When Google announces an algorithm change, it would be unwise to ignore it. Their blog on 26th February about a mobile-friendly algorithm roll-out on 21st April certainly falls into that category.
Google and all search engines want to deliver the best results to their users. If they don’t users will switch and their market is gone. Therefore with mobile devices now accounting for an increasingly high proportion of searches, it’s understandable why Google wants to optimise their results for users on these platforms.
What will this mean for you?
We won’t know the exact impact of the algorithm change until it’s rolled out, but we do know that it will only affect mobile search results. However, according to Search Engine Land, Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji was quoted as saying that the update will have a greater impact on their search results than the infamous Panda or Penguin updates. If that doesn’t make you sit up and take notice, nothing will!
What is clear is that if your site is not mobile optimised by 21st April your mobile rankings could take a serious hit. If you have it set up, go into your Google Analytics and have a look at how much mobile traffic from Google searches your site gets. If you’re anything like the sites that we manage, chances are mobile accounts for around 30 - 50% of your Google traffic.
What can you do?
If you don’t have a responsive or mobile-friendly site it would be advisable to get one as soon as possible. As well as assisting with this algorithm change, it will also help to reduce bounce rate, improve engagement and ultimately improve conversions from mobile users.
If you already have a mobile-friendly site, there are some Google tools that will help you resolve any issues you may have on your current mobile site.
- The Mobile-Friendly Test tool allows you to enter URLs of your pages to show how Google sees your site on mobile devices
- In the Search Traffic area of Google Webmaster Tools there is a Mobile Usability report which gives you a full list of issues across the site
- PageSpeed Insights highlights any issues with your mobile (and desktop) site, with suggestions on how to fix these
Why you must act now
With the noises that Google has been making for the last few years, everything has been pointing to a change such as this, so it shouldn’t come as a shock to those following the industry. We’ve been pre-warned. It’s up to us to make sure we’re prepared.