Patterns and trends over recent years made it blindingly obvious that something very big would eventually take place with regard to how Google take any given site’s mobile-friendliness into account. And so it proved, with the search engine giant having rather generously given the world something of a heads-up earlier this year that the single biggest algorithm change to date would soon be made.
But even with Google having gone uncharacteristically on-record to lay out its plans, there are still rather alarming numbers of business owners and webmasters who don’t fully understand the ins and outs of what’s taken place. So, with this in mind, what follows is a quick FAQ on the recent algorithm change by Google which has since come to be known as Mobilegeddon – somewhat overdramatic as the handle itself may be:
1 – When Did the Change Take Place?
The official date for the algorithm change was set at April 21, which saw the new indexation system go live for the first time. However, dozens of more minor changes and refinements are likely to continue for much of the year.
2 – What Was the Point of the Change?
Google implemented the change for the simple yet wholly pivotal reason that well over 50% of all searches carried out by web users these days happen by way of mobile devices. And as the primary purpose of a search engine is to direct users in the most appropriate direction, it simply makes sense for brands like Google to show preference to sites that are fully supportive of mobile devices.
3 – Who Will the Change Impact?
Businesses have been given more than a few gentle nudges over recent years to remind them of the importance of making their sites mobile-friendly – Google on the other hand has taken more of a gun-against-the-head approach. Roughly translated, the move is likely to have a serious impact on the rankings and thus the exposure and traffic of those websites that remain unfriendly to mobile users, which could see their names dropping off the results rankings entirely. By contrast, mobile-friendly sites may experience a climb in the rankings as their rivals take a dive.
4 – Does the Change Affect Desktop Search?
Not at all – the change to Google’s algorithm is 100% mobile-focused and has no bearing on desktop search.
5 – If My Site is Marked Down, When Will I Notice the Change?
In theory, any site that has been adversely affected by the change to Google’s mobile search algorithm should be very much aware of it by now. The change happened in real time and unlike most other algorithm changes wasn’t designed to mount a slow but steady attack on ‘spammy’ sites. So, if by now you’ve noticed no change at all, chances are you’re reasonably safe.
6 – If I’ve Been Marked Down, How Quickly Can I Climb Back
As this is a real-time algorithmic change, there should technically be no delays when it comes to reinstating your site’s prior position. If, for example, you made the necessary changes today for the site to be considered mobile-friendly, this would instantly be picked up on by Google and the imposed penalties would be removed. As such, it’s crucial to acknowledge the problem if there is one and be willing to do something about it sooner rather than later.
7 – What Does Google Mean by ‘Mobile Friendly’?
Realistically speaking there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of things that contribute to a site’s mobile-friendliness or otherwise. However, the vast majority of key points to cover are generally common sense in nature. It’s all about making sure that no matter who visits you site or from what kind of device, they all get the same high-quality experience. This means choosing responsive site design that adapts to various mobile browsers and screen sizes, while at the same time making sure your content is appropriate for mobile users as well as desktop visitors.
8 – If I Choose Not to Go Mobile, How Bad Will the Damage Be?
Technically speaking, it’s impossible to answer this question right now as Google has given no indication as to how deep the penalties may go for sites that continue to operate in a non-mobile-friendly manner long term. However, chances are that as more of the public moves toward mobile web access as a primary platform, Google will continue putting more emphasis on mobile search.
9 – Do I Need to Change my SEO Strategy?
In a word, yes – at least if you want to appeal to mobile users who generally tend to carry out searches rather differently than desktop users. Speak to a professional web marketing company for advice on building and maintaining a long-term mobile SEO strategy.