The higher-ups at Google have spoken, and it seems that the search giant has made a bold decision to modify its algorithm, placing a strong focus on mobile searches. According to Search Engine Land, the new “mobile-friendly” change will have more of an impact on search results than the past Panda and Penguin updates.
Not sure what the Panda and Penguin updates were all about? You can read more about them here, but in short, they were a complete mess for many businesses. In short, the two updates combined to target, and demote, sites that didn’t offer high quality content or the ones that had thousands of junky links leading back to them.
The problem arose when loads of business owners started to notice search engine demotions, or even bannings from Google, because they weren’t aware that a marketing agency (or the owners of the business) intentionally filled the site with filler content and linked useless or irrelevant sites in order to boost search engine rankings in the short term.
Well, if you haven’t heard of these changes, it’s very possible your rankings went down without you even knowing; but now is the time for you to take an interest in what Google is doing, because the mobile-friendly change is not only simple enough for everyone to understand, but your response to the modification could spell the difference between an abysmal year in sales or your best year to date.
Why is This a Huge Problem for Some Companies and Individuals?
The change in Google’s algorithm takes place on April 21, 2015.
Mark this date on your calendar, because your online business presence requires action before April 21st.
Let’s say you don’t think too much about it. “I haven’t updated my business website in years,” you might say. After all, if the business is still running fine since all of that Panda and Penguin talk, why is it going to affect you now?
Here are a few reasons why that thinking is no longer acceptable:
- The Panda and Penguin updates might very well have hurt your business and you just didn’t know it.
- The primary Panda and Penguin changes seemed to target content mills and companies who hired marketing firms who used shady techniques to build thousands of backlinks to client websites.
- This new change is focusing on mobile optimization, meaning that it affects everyone.
No one has a chance to slide through the cracks on this one, unless of course you have absolutely no competition. Is your hardware store currently listed number one on Google in your area? Guess what’s going to happen when that competing hardware store down the street optimizes their website for mobile devices?
There’s a strong chance you lose that number one spot. Not to mention your margins will take most of the heat.
In fact, a WebmasterWorld member states that a mere three place drop in the search engines has been known to completely destroy businesses.
So, why is this algorithm change a huge problem for some businesses? It’s quite simple, because many business owners will forget about the change. Google will immediately start discounting a site’s credibility on April 21 and the website traffic those businesses have been seeing for such as long time will diminish.
Still not convinced? Google has stated in the past that around 50% of all searches completed through Google are made on mobile devices. Imagine if 50% of your potential customers could not find your website when searching for it?
Even worse, imagine how 50% of your customers had to deal with your silly-looking website on an iPad or smartphone? The chances of them leaving are quite strong. Not to mention, you tick off the loyal customers who decide to push through your website.
Why is This a Huge Advantage for Others?
Entrepreneur Magazine states that 83% of franchises do not have mobile-ready franchise information sites.
What’s more? A report released by BaseKit shows that 91% of small businesses do not run websites optimized for mobile devices.
Those numbers are rather scary for just about every small business in the world. But…a huge opportunity arises as well.
Think about these numbers and how much a simple modification can improve your search engine rankings and boost your sales in the long run. The verdict is still out about how Google will go about scanning and evaluating sites, but we would imagine it’s best to get to the finish line first.
With these stats we can assume that the vast majority of your competitors have been slacking as well. Luckily, you marked down a certain deadline on your calendar and realized the importance of this search engine reformulation.
Think about it. All you have to do is talk to your web designer, have them make the update and you are good to go. You can even optimize a site yourself by looking for a new WordPress theme that has full mobile optimization for laptops, tablets and phones. Even for beginners this would take as short as 15 minutes. Depending on your knowledge you may end up spending a few hours, but that’s not too bad for beating your competitors to the punch and showing Google that you recognize their quest for value on the internet.
How the Experts Assume the Algorithm Changes Will Affect SERPs
SERPs, or search engine results pages, are the lists we all know too well. You navigate to Google, type in “burger joint” and it delivers the most relevant and valuable options in the area. It seems simple enough, but with the upcoming mobile-friendly algorithm changes, experts have been chatting and debating as to how the changes will directly affect all of the websites online.
We wanted to compile a solid list of what you can expect if you don’t take any action, as well as if you decide to optimize your website. Let’s have a look.
If Your Text is Difficult to Read
This is the main reason viewing a non-responsive website on a mobile device is so frustrating. If you open up your Android phone and land on a site (not mobile friendly) it’s nearly impossible to read the small text. You’d have to scroll in to view anything at all, and this makes it a less valuable user experience.
The result? If Google sees that your text is too small to read, your rankings will drop.
If Your Links are Too Close Together
Non-responsive sites also seem to mash together text and links on mobile devices, preventing people from easily clicking on the links. Once again, if the links are too close together on your mobile site, your search engine rankings will falter.
Desktop Search Results
According to Google your desktop search results will not be affected if you choose to not take any action. This is somewhat troubling, because some businesses will assume that most of their traffic comes from people sitting on their desktops.
Keep in mind that Google is always making changes, so this could potentially change. Also remember that, on average, 50% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. So, are you willing to cut out those customers just because you’re satisfied with catering to the desktop users?
Are Emails Going to Affect Your Search Results?
Mobile email opens have seen an 180% increase in three years, and Google has taken notice. They use this information to see what people open up in their Gmail accounts. If the emails are mobile-ready, and the sites that people land on from links in the email are mobile-ready, Google improves personalized rankings for that particular person who made the search.
Therefore, sending out a non-responsive marketing email won’t hurt your overall search rankings, but it can hurt you in the personalized rankings for many of your customers.
Can I Optimize for Certain Devices?
As of now, the algorithm change will most likely affect Android devices a little more. Therefore, if your site is not mobile-friendly, you can expect your Android-using customers to see your company less on the search engines.
Is this going to last? Experts seem to think that this will eventually even out, but it’s another reason to consider making the change to a mobile-friendly site, since so many people use Android devices.
Are You Ready for the Mobile Revolution?
Okay, the mobile revolution has already hit us pretty hard, but this is a whole new aspect of the game, since Google has never come out to say that they are going to really start giving points to those that have the ideal mobile-ready websites.
The time to check on your mobile presence is now, so take a look at the Google Mobile-Friendly Test, paste in your website’s URL and see how Google values the mobile-friendly nature of your site.
If your website is completely optimized, congratulations! If not, pull out your calendar and mark down that fateful April 21 deadline, because it’s time to take action. That said, let us know if you have any questions about the recent Google algorithm changes in the comments section below. Share your thoughts on why or why not you plan on making the jump to a mobile-ready site today.