Due to the massive rise in the use of mobile devices, it was just a matter of time before Search Engines tweaked their position on mobile ratings. On 21 April 2015, Google finally announced that they would make groundbreaking changes to their algorithm, to downgrade the rating for sites that are not responsive and show preference to those that are mobile friendly.
More than half of Google’s searches are from mobile devices which are still expected to grow more and more. Website operators that are ready and equipped to deal with the algorithm change will benefit from it, while others might lose out.
To those that have not made arrangements to weather the storm, the prevalent questions are: How will the algorithm change affect my website’s position and is it too late to do something about it?
The good news
Google has announced that changes would be rolled out over a few weeks. It would only affect smartphones. Desktops and tablets are not included in the algorithm. If your site was ranked well on desktops before, it should still retain its position. Moreover, one could effect changes to a website to make it mobile friendly long after the actual roll-out and still enjoy the benefit of having a website that meets the criteria.
The bad news
For those that don’t have responsive websites that conform to the new algorithm criteria will suffer. A large portion of searches on Google are from smartphones. Approximately 30% of the click-through is generated by the position one on search results. While position 2 and 3 account for about 10% of the click-through.
If your business relies on spur-of-the-moment decisions, your potential customers are more likely to use a smartphone to find you. Afterall, a phone is a customer’s networking portal. Chances are, the customer received a referral on their mobile device in a link, like or text message.
For now, a site that isn’t optimized will still be ranked if it is considered to be relevant. Mobile-friendliness is just one of the numerous criteria whereby a site is judged. But, let’s be honest. This is only the beginning. Everyone carries a mobile device of some sort. The question will soon be: What can you not do with your mobile device? If a website is not geared for the mobile revolution, it should be, sooner than later.
If web owners are unsure on their sites mobile friendliness, there is a solution. Google has developed a very tool to check for optimization criteria. The tool can be found in the webmaster tools section on google.com, or search for “Google Mobile-Friendly Test”.
Enhance your responsiveness
The most important criteria is the responsiveness of a website. If your site is responsive, it will resize according to the width of your screen. One doesn’t have to scroll sideways to read content. Certain images will resize according to the screen size, while others will remain large, but never beyond the width of your screen. Responsiveness impacts links and text on websites when viewed on a mobile device. Text should retain its size on a mobile device and not shrink even smaller. When links shrink smaller, they tend to be too close to each other, which might prove difficult for the big thumbs out there.
Once a website is responsive, one must ensure that the mobile site does not contain images that are blocked or unplayable videos. This could slow down the pages. Mobile Networks are generally slower, which is why Google shows preference to sites that have faster download speeds.
However you look at it, with the way the mobile revolution took off and is rapidly moving forward, it is hard to ignore the impact it could have on your web presence. If the big “MobileGeddon” announcement does not prompt you to re-define your online strategy, don’t forget – this was just a push in that direction and you have been warned.