Understanding Google’s Not-so-Friendly Mobile Search Update

Google Mobilegeddon

By now, you might have heard that Google updated their search algorithm with a change that people are calling mobilegeddon. Although some claim it’s the most significant update that Google has ever applied, associating it with doom, death, and destruction might be over the top.  But the point is if your website design isn’t “mobile-friendly”, you might soon be losing a chunk of traffic from search.

Let’s cut through the hype and take a look at what this change really means for you.

What Did Google Change Exactly?

In a nutshell, Google updated their algorithm so that if your website isn’t easy to navigate and/or doesn’t display well on mobile devices, your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking may plummet.

It’s no surprise really. More people are using mobile devices than ever and a majority of them use Google to search for stuff on the web. Google is simply “adapting to these usage patterns” according to the official announcement on their website.

Google has essentially expanded their use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor and will favor mobile-friendly web pages in search results. If your website is NOT mobile-friendly, it may just drop off the edge of the earth when it comes to mobile search results (thus the Armageddon reference?).

It’s important to note that this change is supposed to impact mobile search results only. It reportedly doesn’t impact searches done on desktop computers or tablets.

What is Mobile-Friendly?

Responsive Web Design is at the heart of a mobile-friendly website (also referred to as mobile-responsive). This basically means that the layout of your website adapts to the device that it’s being viewed on.  So it would look one way on the bigger screen of a laptop, another way on an iPad, and yet another on the smaller screen of a mobile phone.

Here’s an example of our website displayed on 2 different devices. Notice how the text, images, and even the navigation menu re-aligns automatically based on the screen size?

Mobile-Responsive Web Design

But wait, there’s more … more than just responding and resizing automatically, a mobile-friendly website also considers things like the size of buttons (easy to “tap”), size of text, clickable phone numbers, and all things that contribute to easy navigation and use of your website on smaller devices.  Try visiting an older website on your mobile phone and you’ll probably discover unreadable tiny text, pages that are slow to load, and excessive scrolling from side-to-side because the page doesn’t fit your screen.

How Mobile Friendly Is Your Website? Try this Google Mobile-Friendly testing tool online. If you want to test more than 1 page at a time, your Google Webmaster Tools dashboard provides a site-wide report.

Example …

Google Mobile Friendly Test

Another way to tell if Google thinks your website is mobile-ready is to search for it on a mobile device and look for the new mobile-friendly label that now displays (or doesn’t!!) in search results.

Mobile Friendly Search Display

What To Do Next

It’s pretty clear that going forward, Google is increasingly going to favor mobile-friendly websites when serving up search results.  If traffic from search is important to you (and it should be!!), it’s time to take action.

Really Old Website – If your website is fairly old and/or hasn’t been updated in years, you probably need to consider a complete website redesign. Trying to patch up an older site to get more mileage out of it might just be more costly and time-consuming than migrating to something like WordPress where you can leverage a pre-built template that’s not only mobile-friendly, but provides an updated look, cleaner navigation, and better performance.

Fairly Current Website – If you’re already running your website on something like WordPress, Joomla, or HubSpot, you should probably double check to make sure that the design template you’re using is mobile-responsive.

Already Mobile-Friendly – Even if your website is already “mobile-responsive”, it’s not a bad idea to review some of the other elements of a mobile-friendly site including font size, proximity of links and buttons to one another, incompatible plugins, or use of software like Adobe Flash that won’t render on iPhones.

Need Help With Your Website?

Whether you need a complete website makeover or just a little support for your existing WordPress site, we can help. Click below to learn how we apply expertise in the ERP software and technology industry to give your website more than just a pretty new face!

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