Whenever Google changes its algorithm, it’s a big deal- after all, they represent 67.5% of all internet searches1. But their recent announcement will have wide sweeping ramifications, especially for older websites and particularly small businesses.
Here is the official announcement from Google:
“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 on our search results.”
Google is striving to reward mobile-friendly websites with better mobile search engine rankings, with the new initiative starting on April 21. If your website is not mobile-friendly, it will likely experience a negative impact on mobile rankings. In short, you will receive a smaller slice of the mobile search traffic pie and have to rely mostly on desktop-based organic traffic.
The mobile rankings for your website have historically been tied to the ranking strength of your desktop site. If you ranked well on the desktop SERP (Search Engine Results Page), you usually ranked well on the mobile SERP as well. But Google has always alluded to the fact that the mobile-friendliness of your website could impact your organic rankings.
On April 21st Google will be following through with that promise.
It is safe to assume that mobile-friendly sites will see a dramatic boost in rankings, especially in competitive situations where the competition has not taken the time to get their website optimized for mobile use. Just to be clear, this paradigm shift will not impact your site’s search results desktop rankings, just it’s mobile ones… for now, anyway.
The Google Seal of Approval
We have referenced the importance of responsive design of websites in many of our articles, and firmly believe it is a best practice to design a site that provides a one-to-one relationship between desktop and mobile pages, because they are one in the same. As Google’s preferred method of serving content to mobile users, we can assume that responsive sites will be favored by Google in search results going forward, and this is the first real step in that process.
It is far simpler and easier to manage one website than two, anyway!
Is This Really Such a Big Deal for my Website?
Many small business owners don’t know the answer to this question, but it’s a great place to start if interested in understanding the degree of impact an update like this will have on your business. Within Google Analytics, you can get a measure the overall mobile traffic to your site by navigating to Audience > Mobile > Overview and looking at the breakdown of desktop / mobile / tablet.
In a recent analysis of a client’s website, mobile represented 34% of all of their traffic.
You have the ability to create a custom report and look solely at mobile traffic, applied to the metrics that are important to you.
The Bottom Line
In early 2014 Internet usage on mobile devices exceeded PC usage. Should updating your website be a priority for you? If you’re getting 5% to 10% of a limited amount of organic traffic from mobile search, and if most of that traffic is branded and directed at your home page, you might not need to dive into this immediately.
However, if you’re getting 30% of your site’s traffic from mobile, and that traffic is going to various pages on your site, and organic traffic is a key revenue driver for your business, you may want to act quickly.
The good news for Zen Marketing clients- if your business is dependent on organic search for mobile users, we can provide a cost-effective method for migrating your non-responsive website to a new responsive one. The process only requires about a week, with no down-time for your existing website.
How do I know if my site meets Google’s requirements for mobile friendliness? Use the tool found at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
1Google holds a staggering 67.6 percent of the U.S. search engine market share (tying their own record, which was set in January of this year), according to the latest search engine market share figures for April, released by ComScore. Bing remained a distant second with 18.7 percent.
– May 20, 2014 – Search Engine Watch
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