I was recently at a Hubspot meet-up with a group of digital marketers when the topic of “Mobilegeddon” came up. A low level of panic set out across the room as many people started asking what the impact would be to their site and search rankings, and what we needed to do, pronto. As of April 21st, 2015, Google started incuding mobile-friendliness as a significant factor in search engine results. Their goal is to help searchers find readable text without tapping or zooming their devices.
To collect as much information as I could on Mobilegeddon, I quickly jumped on my mobile phone (how ironic—not!) to learn more, then called up our senior mobile strategist & lead developer, Christian Mayer, to get the skinny on what marketers really need to know.
Here’s the filtered results of our discussion on mobile strategy, inter-mixed with the best intel I could collect on the impacts of Mobilegeddon:
Q: What exactly is Mobilegeddon and what do you need to know?
A: Mobilegeddon is Google’s way of telling the world that if your site or mobile app design is not mobile-friendly and responsive, now is your last chance to get into the mobile space before it eats you alive. After all, it’s 2015, and we’ve been talking about mobile and responsive sites for several years. If a company isn’t working hard to get their sites mobile-friendly, shame on them! For mobile searches, Google will be punishing sites that aren’t mobile friendly with lower search rankings.
Q: What should you do for your mobile app strategy ASAP?
A: Take Google’s “Mobile-Friendly Test,” which can be found here. Simply input page URLs (it’s page-by-page testing, not site-wide) and see if your site or mobile app design passes the mobile-friendly test. The results only take a few seconds.
Q: What happens if your site fails?
A: You need to get down to business and get your site mobile-friendly and/or responsive immediately! We recently were playing around with the mobile-friendly test and found a national retail site that failed. Some of the the reasons given were: Text too small to read; links too close together; mobile viewport not set properly. So, if your site fails, you will know why and can get right to work fixing those things. Google has your back and has recommendations for you if you’re using a CMS, whether you’ve built it yourself or had someone else build it.
Q: When and how will my site and search results be affected?
A: Nobody really knows how the algorithmwill play out, but we've heard that the results are binary—meaning either your site is 100% mobile-friendly, or it isn't. It could take a while, maybe a few months possibly longer, for organic traffic and search rankings to truly be affected. While Google hasn’t been forthcoming with many details, here are a few things we found:
- Mobile friendliness is determined at the page level—not sitewide
- Tablets will not be affected by this update
Q: Is Mobilegeddon really worth all the hype it’s getting?
A: I’d say yes—it’s a good way to get everyone hyper-focused on mobile strategy, which is now the most common subject of mobile research. According to Google’s “Mobile Path to Purchasing Report,” up to 48% of users start their search engine research using a mobile device (compared to 33% that start on branded websites; and 26% that start on branded apps).
Google’s algorithm changes always get a lot of hype (you remember Hummingbird, Penguin, and others), and usually for good reason—but Mobilegeddon is earning its stripes as “the Biggest Change Yet to Google’s Search Algorithm.” Some researchers speculate that more than 40% of websites will be negatively affected by Mobilegeddon, due to the lack of a mobile-friendly design.
Q: What else do you need to know?
A: Mobile is here now, and it’s here to stay. Sorry to state the obvious. But if you want to be leading-edge in your industry and beat out the competition, you need to incorporate mobile app design into all your marketing strategies, from web CMS to digital marketing and integrated point-of-service solutions.
If you want to dig deeper, go to Google’s official webmaster blog, where the update was posted on February 26, 2015, announcing:
"Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results."
Other helpful articles you can check out:
Are you in panic mode about your mobile strategy, or do you have it well under control? I’d love to hear how Mobilegeddon is impacting your marketing organization—drop me a note in the space below.