Google has announced, “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.” This is a big deal. After the last two major Google algorithms hit (Panda and Penguin), many website owners were scrambling to repair the damage done from lost rankings, leads, and revenue. I personally was on the other end of the phone with business owners who were affected and I can tell you firsthand, it wasn’t pretty.
Will your website be affected?
That depends on whether or not your site passes the mobile-friendly test on April 21. Google has provided a Mobile-Friendly Test where you can enter your website’s pages and Google will give you a definitive pass/fail. For example:
The mobile-friendly algorithm is an on/off algorithm, on a page-by-page basis, but it’s not about how mobile-friendly your pages are, it’s simply are you mobile-friendly or not. Basically you’ll need to know IF your website is mobile-friendly, not HOW MUCH your website is mobile-friendly.
How serious is the update?
Google does already consider mobile usability as part of its ranking calculations, so you might wonder why this April 21 deadline, dubbed “Mobilegeddon,” is so important.
Zineb Ait Bahajji, a member of Google’s Webmaster Trends team, was quoted at SMX Munich as saying that the new mobile-friendly algorithm change will have more of an impact on search rankings than either Panda or Penguin, two of the largest and most impactful search algorithm updates Google has ever launched.
What’s going to happen after the update?
For now, we don’t know much about how Google’s search results will change after the update, so it’s not entirely clear what that impact will be. We do know that it will change the way Google evaluates the mobile-friendliness of websites, but we don’t know what new factors will be added or how dramatically these factors will be able to change a website’s search visibility. However given Bahajji’s comments, it’s reasonable to guess that the majority of non-optimized sites on the web could see significant decreases in search visibility.
Also, while we know that April 21st will be the starting point for the update, Google has announced that they plan to roll out the update gradually over a few days and possibly up to a week.
How to prepare.
If your site is already mobile-friendly, you won’t have much to worry about. However, if you’ve not yet implemented a mobile strategy for your online presence, now is the critical time to get it done. Follow these steps:
- Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to determine if you need to take action. If your site passes the test, then you’re good to go.
- If you have a mobile version of your site that exists but is not currently active, contact your website developer ASAP and have them activate the mobile-version of your site.
- If you DO NOT have a mobile-friendly site or a mobile version that can be activated, you either need to build a new site yourself or hire a mobile-friendly web design company (like Ice Nine Online) to build a site for you. “Responsive” design is the way to go – “responsive” design means that your site offers an optimal viewing experience for whatever device (mobile, tablet, desktop monitor, etc.) it’s being viewed on.
If you need to take action.
Do you need a mobile-friendly website? Complete the contact form below for a free consultation to discuss options for making your company’s website mobile-friendly.
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