For nearly two years we have been talking about the impact mobile devices and mobile user interaction will have on search rankings. Only recently has this become more mainstream of a concept thanks to Google.
In Google’s quest to make the web a more mobile-friendly environment, they released a statement last month that announced their intentions of making changes to their algorithm for how they rank mobile search results. They even went as far as placing a date when this would be implemented, April 21, 2015. Seeing as though Google isn’t exactly known for placing dates on key algorithm changes, this news had many scrambling to understand “what’s next” from Big G.
So what does this all mean and how might it impact your site?
1. Google is going to place emphasis on websites that are mobile-friendly over those that are not. Their goal, as they state is that “users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” Remember my point above, we have seen signals for the past two years that the way a site performs on mobile devices was some day going to impact search. The day is now known.
2. Google is going to deliver more relevant app content in search results. Meaning, if you are signed in and have specific apps installed, Google will notice this and serve up content from apps with relevant content that has been indexed and found in-app.
Is your website mobile friendly?
There are a number of ways but we suggest using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test found in the developers toolkit. Drop your domain in the box, select analyze and let the tool do the work.
The rollout is said to start on April 21, 2015 and take a few days to a week to fully rollout.
Pass or Fail – No In Between – But Don’t Freak Out.
In a recent Google Hangout, it was disclosed this shift will be an on or off affect. Meaning your site will either be mobile-friendly or not mobile-friendly. There is no in between at this time. Keep in mind though, there are hundreds of ranking factors that go into Google’s algorithm. While this might be the latest shift toward a mobile-friendly web, it is not the only factor in good SEO strategies. Just one element to be considering moving forward.
Let Analytics Be Your Guide
Utilize on-page analytics to help guide your decisions. Especially if you’re operating a large enterprise size site with many moving components. If you’re curious about your mobile to desktop user ratio, you can easily find this information inside Google Analytics under Audience > Mobile > Overview. Here you can quickly see the breakdown between Desktop, Mobile and Tablet users.
Not to discount the changes that Google is rolling out by any means. However, if you are in the category of sites that are very large and have a very high percentage of desktop users, consider this a strong warning from Big G to get your site mobile-friendly, but certainly don’t freak out.
Who will see the most impact and benefit?
While I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I’d hedge my bets on the following industries as seeing the most impact from these types of changes.
- Restaurants, bars and establishments
- Entertainment and event venues
- Major retailers and b2c e-commerce outlets
- Local and national news outlets