April 30, 2015

Chances are that by now you’ve heard the news that Google is rolling out a new mobile friendly algorithm for search results. The algorithm update went into effect April 21st and is being rolled out effectively across all data centers over the following week or two. Of course, half the world went into an instant panic about what this means for businesses, what is it going to cost business owners, and a variety of conspiracy theories about how this is going to ruin searches. And the other half of the world calmly took this update in stride and said, yeah, duh! We NEED this!

So how does this new Google mobile friendly algorithm affect you? And do you really need to freak out about it?

Yes, it will affect you. But you probably don’t need to have a panic attack about it. So let’s talk about it!

First of all, what is this update?

Like anything else, Google is always looking for ways to tweak and improve its algorithm to provide users with the BEST search results. This hasn’t changed. And while previous updates to the algorithm (Panda and Hummingbird for example) typically send everyone into a tizzy about how the changes punish people (even though that isn’t the case), this update is not designed to punish anyone either. It’s designed to reward those businesses who have well designed, easy to use, mobile friendly websites.

If you’ve ever tried to read a non-mobile-friendly site on your tiny smartphone screen, you know how annoying it is. Zooming in and sliding the page back and forth to try to read everything crammed onto that screen sucks! Or, good God, trying to buy something (or use a shopping cart) on a non-mobile friendly site. Not gonna happen!

So, yes, if you have the option of choosing to view a mobile friendly website that eliminates these issues for you, wouldn’t you rather have that option?

Ok, so you get it as a consumer. But as a business owner or marketer, you might be saying “yeah… but!” Well, say it. And then realize that A) your argument is about to get squashed based on the example we just talked about, and B) it may not even affect you as much as you think it will.

Here’s some of the finer details to know.

  • The search results are based on pages, not websites. So depending on how your individual pages are set up and how your overall site is set up, this may be less of an issue based on what pages are popping up in Google search results.
  • The “most relevant” search results will still show up in search results. Just because Google has added this factor to their algorithm, doesn’t mean all other factors are ignored or superseded. If your non-mobile-friendly site is still the best answer or result for a search query, it’s still going to show up. So, keep providing high quality, relevant content that performs well in your audience’s searches.
  • This algorithm change only applies to mobile devices. Someone searching on their mobile device will be subject to this parameter but those searching on desktop websites will not be affected by this change. If the majority of your audience is searching for you on their computers, you have less to worry about in regards to this update.
  • If your site is currently NOT mobile friendly, you may notice a decrease in search traffic from Google. However, once you update your site (if you choose to) to a mobile friendly format, Google will “automatically re-process (i.e., crawl and index) your pages” so that you can regain those search results and traffic.

So do you need to freak out about the new mobile friendly algorithm? Based on the information above, maybe you do. But probably you don’t.

If your website traffic is mostly generated by search results and a significant amount of your traffic comes from mobile, then yes, you should be concerned about this update (assuming you aren’t already mobile friendly, of course). But if this is your situation and you haven’t gone mobile friendly yet, can I offer you a word to the wise and tell you to get on that already!?! Seriously. If you’re getting that much traffic from one source and not catering your content to them, you need to be investigating why not. And think about the added benefits of additional traffic and conversions you could generate once you do make that switch!

And for some food for thought… most small businesses are more agile at adapting and updating their practices than large companies (who require time, paralysis by analysis, multiple approval structures, and final decisions to pull out an update). This means you could actually be at an advantage over some larger companies if you make the switch now.

If you’re wondering if you’re mobile friendly, you can contact your web designer and make sure they got you hooked up. If you’re not yet, find out what they charge to upgrade you to a mobile site. You might be surprised to see that it’s not that much of an investment (and a worthy one at that).

You can also use this handy-dandy tool from Google to instantly find out if you’re mobile friendly: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

Just type in the link to your website(s), wait a few seconds, and presto! Full feedback from Google directly! If you’re not mobile-friendly, the tool will even tell you what is not ideal about the site.

And if you’re not mobile friendly, Google has some tips and resources to help you out which you can find here.

If you are mobile friendly, then when your site appears in a Google search, a “mobile friendly” descriptor will be included next to the search result to tell users you are.

To be honest, I hope your site is mobile friendly and that you’re providing the best experience to your online audience. But if you aren’t yet, don’t freak out. Take a deep breath. Figure out why you haven’t added this functionality yet and determine if it’s in your business’ best interest. Then proceed accordingly. Don’t freak out. But act appropriately!

I’m curious, have you noticed a change in your Google search traffic to your site since the roll out – for better or worse? Let me know in the comments below!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Thank you Jenns , great info about the change Google has implemented.
    Use the link to check mobile friendly for my site and Yahoo it is friendly.

  2. I’m glad I’ve read this post. Now I need to make sure the sites I handle will adapt to Google’s new algorithm for mobile. Site’s today should be more mobile friendly since people are mostly using smartphones to surf the internet.

    1. Thank you Leo. I’m glad you found this helpful, and yes, more businesses do need to consider having mobile friendly sites just for the user experience alone.

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