The world’s biggest search engine shakes up its algorithms… again.
Although Google updates it’s algorithms regularly, a revision of this size is rare. The last “big” revision happened in 2012 when Google altered it’s algorithm to weed out misleading websites. Due to the uproar this caused in 2012, Google has tried to soften the blow of this release by announcing it’s plans more than two months ago. They even posted a step-by-step guide for developers to upgrade their site in time.
So why the big change?
Well, as no surprise to anyone, mobile use for websites have already surpassed desktop usage. In fact, more than 25 percent of all search queries are done via a mobile device. There is no denying that mobile responsiveness is huge.
Matters of fact, most companies are making a beeline to go mobile, which is causing massive chaos in the web design work due to the influx of consumers who are wanting responsive websites. Responsive websites take a bit longer to code than a normal website due to the developer having to size the new size for multiple platforms, as well as design the site to properly stack to ensure the site is not only functional, but aesthetically appealing as well.
According to Google Think Insights, NewEgg, America’s second-largest online retailer found traffic improved their visitors by 39 percent thanks to its new mobile website design focused on multiple screens. The Huffington Post reported a 37 percent rise in their mobile visitors after refreshing their design, too, which now focuses on carefully picked content, speed, and an overall social experience.
The infographic at the bottom of the page (click the word infographic to view larger), shows us that mobile traffic accounts for 16 percent of traffic. Yet, more than 66 percent of smart phone users are frustrated by the lack of responsive design and slow load times. Finally, more than 48 percent of mobile users complain that websites were not optimized for mobile use.
So, Google’s “fix” to the massive amount of mobile traffic and the lack of responsive websites is “MOBILEGEDDON.” The new overhaul of its mobile-search algorithm (mobilegeddon as some are calling it) will likely to penalize many websites that are not mobile friendly and in return, reward the websites that are. According to sources, this comes less than a week after the European Union accused the firm’s search engine of systematically giving favorable treatment to Google Shopping, its price-comparison service.
The most recent change isn’t intended to discriminate against rivals, but demote sites in Google’s mobile-search results that are not deemed “mobile-friendly.” It’s as simple as that. If your site is deemed “non-mobile friendly,” the offs are your site has text too small to read on a smartphone screen, or an abundance of links too difficult to open with the tap of a finger, etc. “As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns,” Google wrote in a blog post in February.
The change is actually great news for consumers. It will heavily encourage organizations/companies to make their sites more usable on mobile devices, which according to Portent, a market-research firm, now generates nearly half of website search traffic. However, it’s bad news for many operators. Almost 40% of the leading sites failed Google’s “mobile-friendly” test and may be down-ranked in search, Portent says.
So, what can you do to ensure your website is mobile friendly?
With more than 48 percent of Technorati’s Top 100 blogs and over 74.6 million sites total (and growing) being managed with WordPress, my assumption is that most of my readers will also have a WordPress (or similar) site. Therefore, for all of my WordPress users, Jetpack is the way to go to ensure your website (if it isn’t a responsive theme) is mobile friendly.
Jetpack is a popular plugin developed by the folks over at Automattic, and over the past few years they’ve done a tremendous job improving the plugin by adding loads of useful features which makes managing a WordPress site a whole lot easier!
Although, seeing as how themes range from $40-$65, I would rather my readers just invest in a new responsive theme. Jetpack is great, BUT there isn’t a guarantee that Google’s new algorithm will appreciate a manipulated theme override, which is basically what Jetpack does. And, one of the cons to Jetpack (although it has a TON of pros) is that the load time isn’t all that great and the mobile version of your site will look a bit bland.
However, having a less attraactive mobile site will serve you much better than no mobile website.
Google’s “Mobilegeddon” algorithm (still unnamed) will launch April 21, 2015. I hope your site’s ready!
(Sources: Search Engine Journal, WP Explorer, The Economist)