On Tuesday, April 21, Google initiated the roll out of an algorithm update – popularly coined “Mobilegeddon” – that favors mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results, in an effort to encourage faster site load time and easier navigation. As comScore Media Metrix estimates Google to have a 65% market share of all U.S. Internet searches, and with over half of these searches executed from a mobile device, it is important to not only be aware of this roll out, but how it might impact your website and what you can do to effectively respond to the changes.
What Does This Update Mean for My Site?
It’s important to note that this update is a page-level update, meaning that your whole site will not be affected if only some of your pages are not mobile-friendly. Google will assess the pages independently of each other, and only promote the ones that are optimized. Additionally, there’s no sliding scale of judgement. Google will deem the page either mobile-friendly or not, with no specifications as to different “levels” of optimization.
Secondly, the algorithm is enforced in "real-time," meaning that even if your site is not optimized for mobile today but it will be tomorrow, it should be captured in Google’s next crawl and be assessed as mobile-friendly.
Thirdly, your desktop search rankings will be fine, as the update impacts only mobile rankings. It’s important to note that tablets are not considered mobile in this update.
Lastly, while the expected impact is unclear at this time, if your site is currently not mobile-friendly and has a growing percentage of mobile traffic (above 30%), then consider this update to be one that will impact your site fairly heavily.
3 Ways to Check Your Site’s Mobile-Friendliness
1. You can test if your site is mobile-friendly and determine any errors and solutions by running it through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page:
2. Google also has a Mobile Usability Report in Google Webmaster Tools for additional information and recommendations for addressing any issues.
3. Furthermore, you can simply Google search for yourself on a smartphone and see if you have a gray “mobile-friendly” label on your search result listing. If you don’t see that label, then you likely aren’t considered mobile-friendly.
Mistakes That Deem Sites Not Mobile-Friendly
Per Google’s Mobile Guide, here are some common issues:
Unplayable content: This consists of certain types of videos, or other content, that are not playable on mobile devices, such as license-constrained media or media that requires Flash.
Faulty redirects: If you have separate mobile URLs, you must redirect mobile users on each desktop URL to the appropriate mobile URL.
Mobile-only 404s: Some sites serve content to desktop users accessing a URL that shows an error page when viewed on mobile. Instead, redirect mobile users to an equivalent mobile page to avoid 404s.
App download interstitials: Some websites block the view of pages with a prompt to download the site’s native app, sign up for a promotion, etc. Instead, use a small HTML banner at the top of the page.
Irrelevant cross-links: Sometimes, users are linked to desktop-optimized pages from the mobile version of the site, and vice versa. Check your links to make sure that they point to the correct equivalent page.
Slow mobile pages: In order to avoid user frustration, ensure your mobile pages load quickly. You can check your page speed with Google PageSpeed Insights.
Keep in mind that even if your site has a responsive design, it could still have some blocked files per any of the issues above—so be sure to run all the checks to ensure that your pages pass the Mobile-Friendly Test! Additionally, for quick-fix solutions that might help you work around this update, check out Search Engine Journal’s list of strategies to help businesses that are worried about the repercussions for their site.
Contact Red Door if you have any questions about the Google update as we strive to be best-prepared for navigating all future evolutions in search and the burgeoning mobile focus of the consumer world.