Google’s “Mobilegeddon” Reinforces Importance of Mobile-Friendly Websites

Is Mobilegeddon going to be the end of most websites?

Google’s recent search results ranking change — stating a website’s mobile-friendliness is a more important ranking factor — is another example of the search giant’s shift towards user-focused search.

Mobile Usage Continues to Increase
Mobile Internet usage is growing at a rapid pace, making it even more critical to consider user experience across multiple screens. eMarketer estimates about 40 percent of the world’s population will be using the Internet on smartphones by 2017 as access to the technology and networks become more affordable.

Consequently, Web design priorities have evolved from simply maintaining a site’s look and feel from the desktop to a mobile browser to building sites with fully responsive Web design. This is a “one-size-adapts-to-all-screens” approach allowing webmasters to create one site that adjusts resolution and shifts content to optimize the device on which it’s served  desktops, tablets or smartphones. The importance of responsive Web design is increasing along with mobile usage. Google’s ranking shift makes a responsive design mission critical for sites to maintain search visibility.

Long-term success will inevitably be won by those who shift their focus to serve users, not search engines, and create an experience that engages, entices and educates.

Google’s Push for Mobile Adoption
An initial correlation between mobile-friendliness and search rankings began to emerge back in June 2013, when Google announced it would begin penalizing sites that offered a poor mobile experience. This update primarily focused on sites offering faulty redirects or were not configured correctly. Google is now rolling the concept out universally. Sites offering good mobile experiences will be rewarded with a possible ranking boost, and sites with poor mobile experiences will be penalized with a decrease in rankings.

While the main concern with this update is the risk of diminishing traffic due to loss of visibility in results, previous algorithm updates suggest it’s possible this will also produce dramatic and unapologetic impacts on search performance.

To ensure the update will not affect their Web page, webmasters can test their sites with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool to identify any issues. Common mobile site issues include JavaScript or CSS crawl errors, broken redirects to mobile URLs and even app download interstitials. Failure to resolve these issues can result in a number of negative consequences for the site, including loss of rankings and visibility in the search engine.

Prepare for the Future: Experience Optimization
It is also important to consider how this update goes beyond mobile optimizations and foreshadows the need for overall experience optimization. Search is multidimensional and user driven at its core. Websites and webmasters should take advantage of this understanding by evolving to better serve the users who drive their business. Long-term success will inevitably be won by those who shift their focus to serve users, not search engines, and create an experience that engages, entices and educates.

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Lisa Mieskoski
Lisa Mieskoski

Lisa Mieskoski is a search marketing specialist at Empower MediaMarketing. Lisa assists in researching, building strategies, and optimizing campaigns for various clients to improve their organic search presence. She comes to Empower from Kent State University where she received a degree in Managerial Marketing.