The prophesied day has finally arrived. It’s Tuesday, April 21st and the great Mobilegeddon Google update is upon us. So, should John Oliver start playing his end of the world video? Not quite yet.
Okay, what exactly are we talking about? Back in February, Google made an unprecedented move by announcing a major algorithm update favoring mobile-friendly sites months ahead of time.
They claim they did this to gives sites time to adapt before they’re blindsided by the update.
What Mobilegeddon Is and What it Isn’t
There’s a few key facts to get straight right off the bat.
- This update only affects smartphone searches. Not desktop searches, not even tablet searches.
- This will only affect core search results, not other searches like video and news.
- If you’re wondering how Google defines “mobile friendly,” check out this helpful guide.
Don’t fall into the trap of seeing that “only smartphone” label and thinking this isn’t a big deal.
Those smartphone searches account for around 60% of all searches made today. The effects of this change should only push that number higher as more and more sites incorporate mobile-friendly responsive design.
Frankly, this is all a bit like when your older brother (Google) tells you to stop annoying him (neglecting mobile friendliness) or he’ll hurt you (your rankings). You knew this was coming and hopefully prepared.
Personally I sympathize with Google here because I was that older brother. So, how do you know if you’re going to be that little brother getting beaten up by this update?
Who’s Going to be Affected
You may be thinking “Okay, Google let everyone know almost two months ago, so who is this going to effect?”
If you’re talking about the SEO blog reading techy crowd, you’d be right. But the bigger concern relates to small businesses which rely on local searches like “Thai restaurant in downtown Portland.”
Many such businesses likely have no idea this update is coming and are in for a shock when their foot traffic suddenly declines for no discernible reason. It’s another reminder why even small businesses can’t afford to neglect improving local SEO and staying on top of Google updates.
What Kinds of Changes Are Necessary?
First, understand that Google’s mobile-friendly label is binary. You either are or you aren’t, and you definitely want to be in the former category. The easiest way to check is with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
If you don’t make the cut, what can you do?
- Implement Dedicated Mobile or Responsive Design: ensure your website changes in response to the size of the screen on which it’s being viewed or has a unique version just for mobile. This won’t help your ranking, but it is necessary to get labeled “mobile-friendly.”
- Don’t Neglect Pages: The “mobile-friendly” moniker is applied only to individual pages and not to entire sites, so double check that any changes you make apply to every page.
Why Mobilegeddon Is an Opportunity for Some
I mentioned previously the kinds of small business owners who are neglecting their local SEO and keeping on top of Google algorithm updates. Well, if you’ve been diligent about your SEO, this may be a chance to increase your mobile search rankings.
Combining a sudden boost in your rankings with a corresponding burst of good content and other SEO friendly tricks has the potential of solidifying your new position and boosting your business.
So, why not look at this update as an opportunity?
There are some interesting geopolitical elements to all this beyond the simple algorithm update.
Awkward Timing in Europe
The algorithm update comes less than a week after Google was officially accused by the European Union (EU) of systematically favoring its own comparison shopping tool.
This raises questions as to how Google can continue to hold such profound sway over the internet with its algorithm updates while claiming it’s not exercising undue control in European courts.
As The Economist put it, “there will always be winners and losers.”
Then again, that’s SEO. All you need to do is make sure you’re a winner.
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