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Google Mobile Friendly Website Algorithm Update

By Kostas Giannoukaris

Google Mobile Algorithm

We already know that mobile friendliness is an important ranking factor considered by Google for a long time now. On 26th February 2015, Google announced through its Webmaster Central Blog, that the importance of mobile friendly website optimisation will increase from 21st April 2015. Although this might seem like short notice for businesses whose websites are not mobile optimised, the truth is that Google warned webmasters a long time ago.

There have also been signs outside Google’s ranking factors that should have alerted businesses to think about how to make their websites mobile friendly.

You should not need Google to tell you

In January 2014, analysis from intelligentpositioning.com showed that in the UK, the share of traffic coming from mobile devices and tablets had increased during 2013 from 22.8% to 37%. In June 2014, Ericsson published a mobility report that predicted mobile traffic will increase tenfold by the year 2020. A statistical analysis by statista.com has shown that by 2019 the global amount of monthly mobile data traffic will increase by almost 1000%! A recently released study on ranking factors which came out towards the end 2014 from searchmetrics.com has shown that time spent on the web through smartphones and tablets in the USA increased by 298.6% during the period December 2010 and December 2013, while desktop time spent on the web for the same time period only increased by 7%.

We appreciate that you might not be following as many blogs, news websites or statistics sources as we are, but any company that has a dedicated person monitoring web traffic data on a consistent basis should have noticed an obvious increase in traffic coming from mobile devices. If mobile traffic is still not greater than desktop traffic for your website, then at the very least the growth rate of this kind of traffic should be closely monitored - especially in a B2C environment. 

Even if mobile traffic was not a ranking factor for Google, all of the trends clearly indicate that businesses should make their websites mobile friendly. If not, then businesses are doomed to lose web traffic as mobile usage grows and people prefer the experience they receive on mobile optimised websites.

Google has increased the importance of mobile friendliness as a ranking factor, not because it believes that non mobile optimised websites are worse than mobile optimised websites, but because what Google professes to care about the most is the user experience.

How will the mobile friendliness update affect my website?

What Google has announced is that this algorithm update will “directly” affect searches occurring on mobile devices. The reason we highlight “directly” is because it will probably also affect searches occurring on desktops “indirectly” in the long run.

For example, let’s assume that after the 24th April, your website ranks on the first page of Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS) on mobile devices, despite the fact that it is not mobile optimised. People will continue to visit your website from mobile devices, but probably will not have an enjoyable, engaging experience. Eventually visitors will bounce more and more as they spend less time on your website because they will find other, more responsive mobile optimised websites that provide a better experience. Engagement expressed in bounce rate and time spent on the website is a ranking factor in both mobile devices and desktops. Therefore, if your overall website performance deteriorates due to the lack of mobile traffic you receive, it is possible that your Google rankings will drop over time on both mobile and non-mobile devices. 

Now that Google has announced the increase of the importance for this factor, companies will rush to mobile optimise their website if they have not done so already. If you work in business that has not yet mobile optimised your website, you are at risk of your competitors ranking higher than you do for key search terms. This means that you begin to lose out even if you have never received, and will never receive, a visit from a mobile device – but let’s be honest, the chances of that being the case are very slim.

Is my site mobile friendly?

There are cases where people do not know if their website is mobile optimised, maybe because they were not involved with the website development or because they use a different Content Management System (CMS) for the main website and the subdomains or landing pages etc. Do not worry, you are not alone. Google has very kindly provided a Mobile-Friendly Test and for those of you that are using Webmaster Tools, there is a link for a complete Mobile Usability Report.

What should I do to make my website mobile friendly?

Google has also provided instructions for what to do to make your website mobile friendly through the guide to mobile-friendly sites. In this guide you can find instructions for almost every kind of situation there is.

Obviously there will be cases where businesses will be unable to act on their own and will need third party support with website mobile optimisation. But be careful! After the announcement by Google, many web development companies increased their prices as they started to receive more requests for mobile optimisation. We have experience of recent quotations to mobile-optimise a website for upwards of £18,000 - which is obviously outrageous. For that amount of money (and possibly even less) you could develop a brand new website which is completely mobile optimised from the outset. Do not rush in and hastily accept any price that you are quoted. Mobile optimising a website does not require spending a small fortune. There are different ways to mobile-optimise your website and some of them are more expensive than others.

For example, we provide an easy, affordable solution to migrate your website on to a CMS where it will be mobile responsive and which you can use to effectively track the performance of your website, especially when you are using it for online lead generation campaigns or online purchases.

You can find out more about our core services by visiting our main website and further information on how we build websites to increase lead generation can be found by clicking here.


by Kostas Giannoukaris

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