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Google’s Mobile Friendly Update – is it a #mobilegeddon?

24 April 2015

On Thursday, 26th of February 2015, Google pre announced a large change to their search algorithm which would introduce ‘mobile friendliness’ as a ranking factor, rewarding mobile friendly website’s in their search results.

The announcement was hit with a lot of controversy – for one, the fact that google representative Zineb Ait Bahajji of Google’s Webmaster Trend announced that the change would see a greater impact than Panda or Penguin sent shockwaves through the entire webmaster community. The udate was quick dubbed #mobilegeddon across the industry.

On the other side of the coin, it only gave business owners less than 2 months to prepare for the update, scrambling for web design help in the mindset they could salvage their rankings before it hit.

What do we know now?

Fast forward 2 months, and we are in a search landscape that isn’t all that different to before the update. While it’s true that the algorithm hasn’t exactly fully rolled out yet (google has noted 1-2 weeks on multiple occasions), those in the industry that claimed websites would fall off the face of earth in mobile search results, may want to re-evaluate their comments.

Here are some things key things you need to know so far:

  • The update has fully rolled out in some data centres, with others close to finishing. This means the search results are currently not fully reflective of the full extent of the update.
  • There has been a demotion of non-friendly mobile websites however in most cases, drops have ranged anywhere from 1-3 spots across a range of different industries for core money keywords we have monitored. Moz posted an interesting study which shows a slight bump (roughly 2.5%) for the % of mobile friendly websites on page 1 of Google553a6e34930ca4.70722629
  • The mobile friendly update works on a page by page level – if you have certain pages on your site which are not mobile friendly, these are the only pages that will be affected
  • This algorithm only affects mobile searches
  • Just because your mobile website looks responsive, doesn’t necessarily means it passes the Google mobile friendly test. You need to pass this test to benefit from the algorithm
  • Being 1 out of 200 ranking factors, your website might not notice much of a change simply because it scores better than it’s competitors across other ranking attributes.
  • Google can assign less or more weight to the mobile friendliness aspect of the algorithm over time.
  • Google can reflect the ‘mobile-friendly’ tag in search results in less than 24 hours, as Moz found out.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth article on aspects of the update, Google recently released a comprehensive FAQ which you can read here.

Should you still have mobile responsiveness at the top of the list?

Yes. Mobile friendliness might only be 1 out of 200 rankings factors, however Google have the power to change this weighting in the algorithm as they please, leading to more severe changes. They also have the power to introduce more specific mobile ranking factors along the way.

Search presence aside, making your website mobile friendly ensures your customers have a better overall user experience. A better user experience normally always leads to increased sales and/or business enquiries – quickly recouping your investment.

For this very reason alone you should consider moving your mobile friendly website project to the top of the list. If you don’t already have a web developer in mind, nimbl are happy to assist in the transition.

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