Due to the massive rise in the use of smart phones and 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 ground breaking 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 and it is expected that the trend will continue in leaps and bounds. Those 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 is that Google announced that the changes would be rolled out over a few weeks and that it would only affect smartphones. Desktops and tablets are not included in the algorithm and 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 is that a very large portion of the searches that occur on google are from mobile devices and approximately 30% of the click-through are generated by position one on search results while position 2 and 3 account for about 10% of the click-through.
If you are a business that delivers a product or service that relies on quick, spur-of-the-moment decisions, your potential customers are more likely to use a smart phone when finding a provider. Furthermore, the smart phone is the customer’s networking and portal. Chances are, the customer would have received a referral from a friend or colleague on their mobile device in the form of a link, like or text message.
For now, at least, the site that isn’t optimized will still be ranked if it is considered to be a relevant result. Mobile-friendliness is just one of the numerous criteria whereby a site is judged. But, Lilts be honest. This is only the beginning. We all know where this is heading. Everyone is carrying a mobile device of some sort and the question will soon be: What can you not do with your mobile device? If your website is not geared for the mobile revolution, it will be, hopefully sooner than later.
For those web owners that are not sure how to improve their current website, Google has developed a very handy tool to check for criteria that match a perfectly optimized, responsive website. The tool kan be found in the webmaster tools section on google.com, or search for “Google Mobile-Friendly Test”.
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 and you would not 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 also impacts links and text on your website when it is 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 you have the responsiveness base covered, it is important to make sure that your mobile site does not contain images that are blocked or unplayable videos that could slow down the pages. Mobile Networks are generally slower, which is why Google shows preference to sites that have faster dowload 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.