By Fred Shramovich
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Chris Hughes from Facebook. He is one of the founders of the company and gave a presentation at Navy Pier in Chicago. Mr. Hughes started his presentation out with “Mobile, mobile, mobile”. He went on to talk about how 4 billion people on the planet do not have access to the internet, but as cellular service grows across the globe, they soon will. Combine efficient infrastructure growth for cellular data with the boom in smartphones, and we will have exponential growth for internet usage; namely mobile traffic.
Fast forward three years and these days are upon us. In the last several months, Google has given us hints that they view mobile the same way Chris Hughes did many years ago. They sent warnings of potential mobile issues to administrators via Webmaster Tools and launched a mobile-friendly testing tool. They have even tested elements in the SERP (search engine results page) to identify websites that are “mobile-friendly”.
The Big News
Google has announced that on April 21, 2015 they will be updating their search algorithm to take mobile into consideration while ranking websites. As long as your website is mobile-friendly, you will either stay in the same position or even potentially improve your ranking if your competitors are not mobile-friendly.
What Does Mobile-Friendly Mean?
In basic terms, this means you either have a separate mobile website or your current website was created with responsive design to adapt to any device you may be viewing the website on. The purpose of a mobile-friendly website is to deliver a positive user experience to the visitors to your website, regardless of device. You can easily check if your website’s design is mobile-friendly by using the Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
The question you may be asking is: which type of mobile friendly site should they have, a separate website or a responsive design-based website?
While both types of mobile website can help you in this situation, Google and many other web design and SEO gurus believe a responsive design website is the best way to go. The major reason for this is that you only have to manage one website. The problem with a separate website is that you are susceptible to many issues like duplicate content, having to update each site separately, and many other potential problems.
How Big Is This Google Mobile Algorithm Update?
This is a great question to consider, and some information has been leaked. Recently, a Google employee stated that this algorithm update could affect the SERP more than other large-scale updates like Panda and Penguin. These other updates impacted around 12% of queries. If you get a large chunk of your traffic from mobile devices, you could see this dry up if you do not have a mobile-friendly version of your website.
It is also rumored that Google may be creating a “mobile index” on top of their current search index as part of this update, and this could really shake things up in the next several months.
In another example of how Google is emphasizing mobile design, Google is strongly encouraging websites to adopt autocomplete on forms for mobile websites. They are not saying this will affect rankings, but that it will improve conversions and user engagement.
All of these recent revelations from Google clearly show the emphasis they are putting on mobile-friendly design. It is essential that you prepare now for the coming changes in order to avoid any negative impacts to your website’s search ranking and traffic flow.
If you would like more information about these algorithm changes and how to prepare for them, or if you need help with your website and/or paid online advertising, please contact Lever Interactive today. We would be happy to help you make sure your website and advertising continues to succeed as the search landscape innovates and evolves.