Google’s ‘Mobilegeddon’ – Is it really the end of your world?
11 May 2015
Withpr Content Team
The latest big Google update is upon us, and media outlets worldwide are making absolutely sure that we all know about it. Google’s mobile-friendly update was originally announced back in February, but despite advanced warning from the search and advertising giant, businesses are still scrambling to respond.
The update means that mobile compatibility to Google’s search engine algorithm has changed in a big way for the first time. It’s estimated that over 40% of websites today are still not optimised for mobile, and so naturally this has led to widespread concern that those websites will be penalised in the search engine rankings and thus see a massive dip in organic traffic.
Some outlets are going as far as to describe the update as “mobilegeddon”, but is this really the end of the world for non-mobile friendly websites?
To understand the fear factor, we need to turn the clock back to 2011. Any webmaster worth their salt should be able to tell you what a “Google Panda” is, and the impact it had on web traffic. The Panda update – the largest update of its kind at the time – was designed to make search more user-friendly for end users by scoring down any websites found guilty of duplicating content or content scraping. What happened was that a number of large websites, known for lax editorial practices or for promoting a copy/paste approach to content were affected, with some even seeing traffic drop by over 70%.
The memory is still painfully clear for many web businesses; however you can rest assured that Google Panda was a very different beast. It does have one thing in common with Google’s Mobile Friendly update though: they both put user experience first.
For Google’s mobile update specifically, this means making sure that smartphone users are able to navigate your website with ease. Things like text size, navigation and the spacing between buttons on your site will all be considered in Google’s mobile-friendly test.
“Mobilegeddon” is perhaps a bit harsh a term for this update, but the reality is that unless your web presence is optimised for mobile, you will notice an impact. That said, there are three key things to consider:
We live in the mobile age
The first point to make is that this of course is 2015. We live in an age of mobile technology and any company with an online business who haven’t yet embraced this are only doing themselves a disservice. Don’t think of Google’s mobile update as penalisation, but rather as a gentle nudge in a direction that you should’ve gone long ago anyway!
Only mobile traffic will be affected
Another thing to bear in mind is that while Panda impacted all Google search traffic and rankings, the mobile update pertains only to traffic from mobiles – that is, users who search via a mobile browser. Mobile users exceeded desktop users for the first time last year, and so while it won’t impact all of your traffic, you can expect to see a dip.
It could increase your business
As mentioned, mobile traffic exceeded that of PC internet usage for the first time ever last year, and it’s only set to increase. Given that, it’s worth thinking of this update less as Google penalising you for having a website that isn’t mobile friendly, and more them doing you a huge favour by forcing your hand. Get your website in order, and customers will find it easier to use, this should translate directly into an increase in conversion – be it sales, signups or other.
So is this mobilegeddon? Hardly. But make no mistake, you should be taking steps to address this update now, and once your website meets the criteria who knows? You could even be thanking Google for pushing you into an increase in profits!