From 21st April 2015, Google will overhaul the algorithm to penalize sites that are non-mobile friendly. The extent of penalties are unknown, but it has been suggested that this change will be ‘significant.’
The news about Google using mobile responsiveness as a signal for ranking is nothing new. In 2012, it was announced at the iSEO panel that Google preferred a mobile responsive website whenever possible. Arguably, the mobilegeddon of 21st April is nothing but a reminder by Google to make that transition to become more user friendly for smartphone owners.
Many websites are still not optimized for mobilegeddon
Many websites are still not optimized for mobile. They include: Versace, Nintendo, Windows Phone, The European Union website, the British Monarchy’s page, American Apparel, P&O Cruises, Cotton Traders, RyanAir. What this indicates is that the user experience is not great for visitors to these sites through their smartphone. Since mobile phone traffic to websites is second only to laptops and tablets, websites that do not have mobile friendly websites will lose many potential customers. Their profits are likely to dip after Google’s mobilegeddon.
What businesses can do to prepare for mobilegeddon
Updating to a mobile responsive website cost money and effort, which is why some businesses are willing to assess the effect of mobilegeddon on their search rankings before calling in the website developers.
Some of the actions that businesses can take include:
- Use the Google Mobile Friendly Test to determine if your site is mobile friendly
- Plan your website’s design around being more mobile responsive. For example, thinking about the clarity, aesthetics and user friendly layout of your new website should inform you about how you would like your new website to look.
- For smaller websites it is worth comparing different website developers and deciding what design and fee to go with.
- For websites that were created using software such as WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, it is best to refer to the respective guides about mobile optimization.
- For websites that were created by an outsourced design agency, ask if they are familiar with responsive web design (RWD) and inquire about their past client’s portfolio to see examples of previous work.
When the mobilegeddon catches you by surprise
There are many businesses out there that are not aware of mobilegeddon and the implications for their bottom line. Even if these businesses were aware of mobilegeddon, they may not take any action. Here are some reasons why:
1. The business in question do not rely on smartphone traffic or internet traffic at all. They rely on other forms of advertisement.
2. The business did not see drastic changes to their page rankings since Google implemented the Panda, Penguin, Pigeon and Humming algorithm changes. They assume there to be no drastic changes to their search engine ranking page (SERP) after mobilegeddon either.
3. The business finds it too bothersome and costly to change their entire website.
As you can see, reasons (1), (2) and (3) may all cost the business loss in future profits if they do not adapt with consumer use of mobile devices.
At the same time, there are many businesses that are panicking about the impending changes in Google’s algorithm. A fine balance should be struck between inaction and action towards making changes!
Panicking about mobilegeddon will not change the fact that your business website will rank a little lower than competitor websites that have mobile responsive sites. Google will still rank your website, only this time less favourably than before.
Instead of worrying about your website dipping in popularity, you could hire mobile responsive website developers to redesign your website to fit different screen formats, or design a separate mobile friendly site altogether. Businesses still have time to do this after April 21st and they should be thankful that Google has given them this reminder. The future of internet traffic will be through smartphones and other smart device so this is the direction businesses should be heading for their future marketing.