Mobilegeddon. It doesn´t really roll off the tongue, does it? That said, you´d be a fool to ignore it, as it represents Google´s most significant algorithm change to date.
It´s all that marketers – who coined the term – want to talk about. Come 21 April, however, the speculation around what it means for brands will come to an end, with the algorithm having taken effect.
For those playing catch-up, though, let´s take a look at what we do know. Google reckons that the change will have more of an impact than Penguin or Panda, which illustrates the impact it could have on brands.
Here´s what the search engine giant said at the time of announcement: “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”
Basically, what that means is Google´s mobile ranking factors will not only label your site as mobile-friendly (or not), but will also use that to determine if your site should rank higher in the search results.
Beyond that, however, it´s anybody´s guess what the change will mean for mobile traffic. Word is, though, if you have non-optimised content on your site, it could see a significant decrease in search visibility.
How ready are you?
First things first, then, let´s take a look at whether you´re ready. Google has kindly set up a Mobile-Friendly Test page, where you simply need to copy and paste your site´s URL and it is analysed against the search engine´s mobile-friendly criteria.
After what feels like a lifetime, it will hopefully return with the line: “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly”.
Whilst it admits that the test is not entirely comprehensive, Google says the test will generally give you a good idea of your site´s mobile performance and (hopefully) calm you out of panic mode.
If you want to be doubly sure that your site is primed for the shift, Google the site on your mobile device. If you see the “mobile-friendly” SERP entry smiling back at you, you´re in business.
Finally, we´d also suggest running your site through Google´s Mobile Usability Report (in Google Webmaster Tools) which will fire back with any relevant recommendations that will improve mobile use.
If these three checks show that your site is coming up short, hit the panic button. I jest, of course, but it most definitely is time to get a jiggle on, otherwise you could see your website languishing in the undesirable double-digit results pages.
Tips from the horse´s mouth
As I say, it´s not clear how long it would take a website to reclaim its original ranking once the change has come into effect, so let´s just work off the basis that it wouldn´t be an immediate return.
Google is not trying to catch anybody out by initiating the change – proof of such is in the fact it has compiled some advice on how to convert your site to a mobile-friendly design.
As uncovered by the Search Engine Journal, here is what it states to do (WARNING: It gets a little technical):
Unplayable content: Remember there are certain types of videos that are not playable on mobile devices – media that requires Flash being one – so consider some alternatives.
Faulty redirects: Align all your URLs to your mobile-friendly URL, or else some users may still be viewing an untuned design.
Mobile-only 404s: Some content might show up on a desktop but return an error page to mobile users. Therefore, redirect mobile users to an equivalent mobile page to avoid 404s.
App download interstitials: Avoid making it essential for users to download the site´s native app in order to view content. Employ a small HTML banner at the top of the page instead. If you have an Android app associated with your site, get it deeplinked and indexed as soon as possible.
Irrelevant cross-links: Make sure you´re not directing mobile users to the desktop-optimised pages of your site, and vice versa. Check to ensure that everything points where it should.
Slow mobile pages: Utilise Google PageSpeed Insights to determine how quickly your mobile pages are loading. If they are agonisingly slow, look to do something about it or face people giving up.
Social media´s response
As you would expect, social media is rife with all things mobilegeddon. Here´s a selection of our favourite musings on the shift:
One week til Google’s Mobilegeddon. Or as procrastinating SEO’s refer to it, “later this year”.
— Brian Provost (@brianprovost) April 14, 2015
— Kevin Trusty (@KTRedbirds) April 3, 2015
Nick Wilsdon shares our dislike for the name of the update:
Wish Google would go ahead and name this mobile update something fluffy – "mobilegeddon" just fuels the FUD
— Nick Wilsdon (@nickwilsdon) April 1, 2015
Travel industry going all out
Scanning Twitter, it´s clear that all industries are aware of the need to make urgent changes – nearly all businesses have websites these days, after all. Firms within the travel sector, however, showed that they are particularly determined to get it right.
It´s perhaps little surprise given that within two years nearly a third of all online travel bookings by value will be made on mobile devices, according to Euromonitor.
With mobile usage only set to go one way, travel companies, more than most, need to make sure their websites are optimised for mobile. We´d love to hear from any travel firms on what steps they´ve taken to ensure they´re not going to be left behind.
In fact, we´d be keen to hear from anybody on what steps you´ve taken to steer your website away from the abyss. We´ll then incorporate some of those responses into our next piece in a few weeks´ time when we will see how firms have fared since the switch. At that point, we´ll have a better idea of what needs to be done to get your website back to its rightful place. Until then, good luck!…