As most us of have heard, (or perhaps been put into a panic by the trending hashtag #Mobilegeddon), this week Google rolled out its latest algorithm update for mobile. While this update is merely meant to help mobile searchers access mobile-friendly sites easier, the reaction online has been slightly more dramatic, featuring photoshopped images of bomb explosions, raining fire, and warnings of caution to “survive” this update.
Okay, admittedly, we might have made one too.
However, what most articles I’ve seen about this update fail to point out is that this update isn’t designed to hurt websites! This algorithm update is NOT targeting web spam—it is only meant to highlight mobile-friendly sites on the mobile SERP. For sites with a mobile-friendly site implemented, this is actually great news! Mobile-friendliness is now a key ranking factor on the mobile SERP, connecting you with your mobile users better than ever before. To check out the positive impact having a mobile-friendly site can have, check out our whitepaper on Mobile Traffic Trends!
So, what’s the truth about this update?
While there’s a lot of misinformation out there making this update seem scarier than it is, here are the key things you need to know about the mobile update (and why you don’t need to fear it)!:
- This update is not a surprise: Actually, it’s pretty much the opposite. This mobile algorithm update was the first time ever Google has formally announced an upcoming algorithm update, as well as the exact date it’s going live (this past Tuesday, April 21). Google has also been bombarding sites with emails alerting them if they have pages that are not mobile-friendly for months. Google has also been stressing the importance of mobile-friendliness for years, most prominently by their addition of “Mobile-friendly” banners added on the mobile SERP.
- This update only affects the mobile SERP: Let me repeat that—this update does NOT affect desktop or tablet search results! *cue a giant sigh of relief throughout the internet*. This update solely affects mobile search results on mobile devices. Mobile-friendliness of your site will NOT affect your ranking on desktop or tablet search results.
- This update will affect only Non-Brand searches: This means that when users are searching for your website with a branded term, such as someone trying to find us by searching ‘NetElixir’, our site would still show up in top of the SERP, even if it isn’t mobile-friendly. However, if someone was to search for us by typing in ‘search marketing agency’ and we didn’t have a mobile-friendly site, we wouldn’t show up. Users who are searching for your site directly will still find you in the SERP, even if you aren’t mobile-friendly.
- Using a separate mobile site design or using responsive design both count as ‘mobile-friendly’:While it would be ideal to have a separate mobile site set up, this algorithm update accepts sites implementing responsive design (a design where your normal site is automatically resized to fit the screen it’s being accessed on) as being mobile-friendly as well. Both of these design types are accepted and weighted the same.
Okay, got it. So how can I reap the benefits of this algorithm update?
In order to be as optimized as possible for this mobile algorithm update, here are our recommendations to implement right away (if you’re not already):
- Have a mobile-friendly site, already! (Preferably a separate mobile site design): If you didn’t know you needed a mobile friendly site by now, consider this your formal invitation—please, for the love of Google, implement some kind of mobile-friendly site! While responsive design is totally fine for the sake of this update, we recommend having a separate mobile site designed with mobile users in mind to give your mobile users the best experience on your site possible.
- Have an informative and intuitive site navigation: On April 16, Google announced their updated URL display in search results. This change shows real-world naming conventions for the levels of your site, rather than your long URL structure in the search results (check out a screenshot of the update below). This change will help searchers figure out the structure of your site easier, and how the page they’ve arrived at fits into your site’s greater navigation. Google is also releasing support for schema.org structured data, where you can let them know the real-world name of your website (i.e. “NetElixir” vs. “netelixir.wpengine.com”), and your URL breadcrumb structure (i.e. “NetElixir > Blog”, vs. “www.blog.netelixir.com”).
- Consider offering a mobile app: While not a factor in this mobile update, I would guess the next step forward for Google’s mobile SERP would be favoring sites with a mobile app as well as a mobile site, so getting started on a mobile app now couldn’t hurt!
All in all, we promise the weather forecast today does not feature any raining fireballs, and “Mobilegeddon” will not send your website into the tailspin the internet may have made you believe. As long as you have some kind of mobile-friendly site in place, you have nothing to fear from this algorithm update.
If you have any more questions about Google’s mobile algorithm update that weren’t covered above, let us know in the comments below and we’ll be happy to help ease any nerves you may still have!