It’s official: on April 21st, 2015 Google will launch a mobile-friendly algorithm update intended to favor websites that are well, mobile-friendly. Simply put, this will affect websites that are NOT yet mobile ready. According to Zineb Ait Bahajji, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, the update will ‘significantly’ influence rankings on mobile SERP’s (any rumors of it affecting desktop queries is bogus). So if you have been ignoring the signs of going mobile, expect to see drastic – if not depressing – results as the launch date nears.
The good news is that the system is set to run in real time on a page-by-page basis. This means websites with several non-mobile ready pages still have time to catch up. All webmasters need to do is update their pages (one at a time if need be), and Google will automatically crawl and index them for instant benefits. Users can then enjoy better accessibility because sites who want to stay on top must prioritize mobile-friendliness.
But as SEO experts, we have one question in mind: just HOW BIG will this update be?
Bigger Than Panda and Penguin Combined
When Panda and Penguin made their updates last year, the impact was definitely felt by small and huge sites alike, that it took a few months for some to turn their strategies around and recover. It’s like being hit by a massive storm – only this one costs money. To sum it up, the two algorithms caused the following brunt to SERPs:
- Panda affected 12% of search queries
- Penguin affected 4%
And this upcoming mobile update? Experts say about 50%. But again, this is ONLY for mobile search queries. As Google isn’t talking, no one can be really certain.
There are all sorts of conspiracy theories as to why the search engine giant refuses to share insight on the matter. One: it could be that they themselves have no real numbers because changes are made in real time; OR two: citing figures will whip digital marketers into frenzy. Still, you don’t want your rankings dropping on the most popular mode of search these days. Mobile counts for 80% of Web usage, while tablets are a close contender at 47%.
The algorithm update is set to certainly shake things around the world because it will also include mobile apps. Already app indexing has allowed webmasters to link relevant content from their sites to their own apps. Not only will users love the seamless experience – Google can index the app content, too.
It’s No Longer About The Importance Of Going Mobile
That’s right. Nowadays, digital marketers should instead question HOW their desired market behaves on each device. We all know that if your website is not mobile-friendly yet that you’d eventually be in trouble. With 48% of mobile queries beginning on search engines like Google, businesses can’t afford to turn a blind eye to these statistics. Aside from being tagged with the ‘mobile-friendly’ label, companies have the opportunity to widen the scope of their market. By simply being more accessible on handheld gadgets, you open doors to potential customers, leads, sales, and future profits.
As the new algorithm update is far bigger than anyone has previously anticipated, we might be in for a lot of surprises. Perhaps we have overestimated our own sites. Maybe once the update hits, we could find ourselves disappointed by the ranking system. Or we could be over the moon with joy at seeing our sites on the first page. Who knows? All we could is prepare.
For websites that are not yet mobile-friendly, consider a few tips from your friendly SEO services. Until then, let’s hold our breaths and cross our fingers.