On April 21, Google is set to roll out its latest, and potentially most impactful, algorithm update. With a somewhat less friendly name than the Panda and Penguin updates of the past, ‘Mobilegeddon’, as it’s been dubbed by SEO experts, could see rankings plummet for brands who do not have mobile friendly websites.
Historically Google has been fairly secretive when it comes to roll out dates. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to pick up on a hint dropped at a conference; sometimes they don’t confirm an update until after it’s happened. This latest update is a little different in the sense that Google has been warning us for a little while now that a change is imminent. They first made this announcement in February, which should have been plenty of time for Webmasters to start taking action. However, I anticipate it will come as a shock to many businesses, especially those in the SME sector who perhaps do not have the resources to a) be made aware of what’s to come, and b) to tackle it when it does happen.
What does ‘mobile friendly’ mean?
Mobile friendly simply means the site renders to fit within any mobile or tablet device. However, if your website contains lots of text or links too close together, this could still prove to be a poor user experience. What businesses should ultimately be aiming for is a mobile optimised or responsive site, where the site reformats itself to provide a better experience.
You can find out if your site is mobile friendly (and what you can do to improve it) by inputting your website’s URL in the Google Developer Mobile Friendly Test.
What will happen if my site isn’t mobile friendly?
First of all, try not to panic. You will not be removed from Google entirely for not having a mobile friendly site. However, sites that do adhere to the update will be ranked higher, meaning your site will slip down the rankings resulting in less traffic. Fortunately taking steps to making your site mobile friendly is fairly straight forward and should be actioned as and when your business is ready.
When will I see the effects?
Experts are predicting that the roll out will take anywhere from a couple of days to a week, so if you don’t see an immediate impact, you should still keep an eye on your rankings for a few more days to check for a slip in rankings.
What if I survive Mobilegeddon?
In the event your website stays mobile un-friendly and you manage to retain your search rankings, don’t be tempted to sit on your laurels. Search engine aside, websites that are not mobile friendly provide a far inferior user experience, and with so many saturated markets out there, can you really afford to deter your customers with something that you have the power to fix?