What Is Google’s Mobile Friendly Update?

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Google always seems to be creating some sort of buzz in the media.  These days they have been getting more and more media coverage about their frequent search engine algorithm updates.  In layman’s terms, algorithm updates are changes to the rules and factors Google uses to rank your website above or below competing websites.

The new change, one of the most prominent ones in 2015, is the ‘Mobile Friendly’ update, also referred to as ‘Mobilegeddon’. This new website ranking algorithm was feared to be digital ‘apocalypse’ as Google spokesmen stated that it would be one of the biggest algorithm updates yet.

In the aftermath, thousands of companies around the world are still hustling to meet the new mobile friendly viewing compliance guidelines.

Let’s get to the details.

What is Mobilegeddon?

Simply put, Mobilegeddon is the change in Google’s search algorithms that elevates ‘mobile friendly’ websites in search rankings over sites that are not mobile friendly. Unlike most of the updates that roll-out without a prior notice, Google took the unprecedented step of pre-announcing this update and gave companies a 4/21/15 deadline to make their websites mobile friendly.

They are taking mobile user experience very seriously.

Right now, a user who performs a Google search from his or her phone, or tablet will find search results for websites and blogs higher in the search that are designed to fit for smaller devices. This new update has put ‘mobile-friendly’ label on search results for websites which pass the ‘mobile-friendly test’.  According to Google, mobile friendly websites is one that:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

Why did Google mandate a mobile friendly algorithm update?

There might be a lot of reasons for Google to change the algorithm, which we can only guess. We believe that Google is looking to provide better search experience for users and provide them with what they want. The increasing number of mobile device users, particularly iPhones and iPads, might be a big part of the reason.

That being said, Google is also looking forward to expanding its business, and money, of course. With the new ‘mobile-friendly’ labels included for websites, separate advertising campaigns need to be run for higher search result on smaller devices.

How do you know if your website in mobile friendly?

The best way to find out if your website is impacted is by using the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. You’ll only need to enter the domain name and click on ‘Analyze’. Google will answer you if your website is ‘awesome’ with its design or not mobile-friendly.

Google Mobile-Friendly Test

google mobile friendly test

Will it impact my website if it’s not mobile friendly?

Probably.  But if not now, then very soon.  Google has a history of introducing new ranking factors and then ‘cranking up the dial’ on these new updates over time.

The first thing you’ll need to make sure is go to GA (Google Analytics) and find out if you receive a large number of organic search traffic from Google. If you don’t receive much traffic from Google or don’t depend on organic traffic for your business, you’re still good to go.

But for most businesses, Google search is of great value. If it’s the same on your case, you’ll need to check the number of mobile and tablet search traffic on your website. Remember, it’s only the mobile devices (phones and tablets) search results that are going to see a change. If your major source of organic traffic is from desktop searches, you don’t need to work on it.

My website is not mobile-friendly! What should I do?

First thing, don’t panic.

If your website is already affected with the update, you can confirm it with the drop in organic search traffic on your Google Analytics reports. However, it may not have had much impact on your business still.

There’s always a fix. But that last thing you’d do is rush to fix the issue because getting a mobile-friendly design is not that easy. Creating ‘mobile-only’ design can be a bandaid fix but not ideal.  the best long-term solution to to create a new mobile responsive website, or if possible, convert your current website into a mobile responsive website.

Mobile responsive websites are those that are flexible in terms of layout, and they will automatically re-order your page layout based on the width and size of the users computer screen.  This make for easy one-handed thumb scrolling of content that is already easy to read.  In other words, no more tiny web page that you need to finger zoom in order to read.

Kansas City Mobile Responsive Web Design

Think of a proper layout and reconfigure the outlook of how your website is to be coded without affecting the user-experience. Walk (don’t run) to your web-developer and customize the responsive mobile design together.

My website is mobile-friendly. But my search traffic is decreasing?

Passing the mobile-friendly test is not the end to Mobilegeddon update. Even if your website makes the grade today, there can be other factors related with the compatibility of the design on different browsers and devices. Or, other websites might be doing better in design and speed than yours.

You can check if your pages are doing well on Google mobile search by typing ‘site:yourdomain’. If that shows the ‘mobile-friendly’ label intact, you might need to consider writing better contents and perform on and off-page SEO for your website.

The bottom line

Make sure that your website is user-friendly, thoughtful and apt for different search results. This will make sure of a better Google search ranking and increased traffic, regardless of what niche your company/website belong to.