A FAQ About Google’s New Algorithim Update
Yesterday, Google updated its search algorithm so that when you search on a mobile device, you’ll be more likely to get results for pages that are mobile-optimized.
It seems like the most obvious thing in the world, and the only question everyone should be asking is, “What took so long?”
But tech writers, never a group to let a potential crisis pass them by without adding some melodrama, have generated a storm of anxiety about Google’s update. They’ve even created a name. Mobilegeddon.
So, in case you’re on the fence about whether or not you need to freak out about Google’s algorithm update, we’ve created a helpful FAQ.
The Mobilegeddon Freakout FAQ
Q: Is Google Stupid?
A: No. Google hires the smartest search engineers on the planet, to create search algorithms that deliver relevant results. They’re not going to suddenly stop returning relevant results because a site isn’t mobile optimized.
This update is simply adding mobile-friendliness as one factor (among thousands of factors) Google will use to rank results for searches from smartphones and tablets.
Q: How do I know if Google thinks my site is mobile-optimized?
Turns out our website is mobile optimized, which is good, because it would be super-embarrassing to be an agency that builds mobile responsive websites, and not have one ourselves.
Q: Oh no! My site’s not mobile-optimized! I should freakout, right?
A: Maybe. Probably not. If your site hasn’t already been mobile-optimized, it’s still worth remembering that only your mobile organic search traffic will be affected by this switch.
Q: OMG, what if I lose all my mobile traffic?
A: First, you need to find out how much “all my mobile traffic” is. Go in to Google Analytics, click on “Audience > Mobile > Overview” and look at the numbers.
Like you can see, about 15% of Echo-Factory.com’s traffic comes from mobile devices.
Q: OMG, I’m going to lose 15% of my site’s traffic?!
A: No. On that same analytics page, click the “Secondary Dimension” dropdown and select “Medium.” The only traffic that will be affected by this update is Mobile and Tablet “Organic” traffic. That means traffic that comes from organic search engines, on mobile devices.
As you can see, for us, that’d be about 9% of our total traffic.
Q: OMG, I’m going to lose 9% of my site traffic?!
A: No. You’re probably going to see some reduction in your organic mobile search traffic, if your site isn’t mobile optimized. You almost certainly won’t lose all your organic mobile traffic, but you almost certainly will see some reduction in your organic mobile traffic.
Q: So I shouldn’t do anything?
A: Of course you should do something. Everyone uses the mobile internet, and poorly-optimized sites suck on mobile devices. Building a mobile, responsive site doesn’t add too much to the cost of a redesign or new site, and adds tons of usability for mobile users. That’s why every site we’ve built for at least the last couple years has been responsive and mobile-friendly.
But unless your site is highly-dependent on mobile traffic from organic searches, “Mobilegeddon” won’t mark the end of the world for you. Don’t rush into anything shortsighted, but do plan a sensible strategy to make your site mobile-friendly the right way.
Q: If I make my site mobile-friendly, how long will it take for Google to notice?
A: Not long. Google’s promised that the mobile-friendliness of any site is calculated “realtime”, every time Google spiders your site. So if you do see a dip in mobile traffic due to the update, you can fix it the minute you make your site mobile-friendly.
Some testing suggests that the actual time to update from a non-mobile-friendly to a mobile-friendly site in Google is less than 24-hours.
Q: How do I make my site mobile-friendly?
A: When you ran your site through Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool, if there were problems, Google probably told you what the problems were. Unless you’re a web developer, you probably didn’t understand what Google was telling you.
In that case, the best course of action is to talk with a web developer. We’d be happy to help, but here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Redesign. Editing an existing site to be responsive and mobile-friendly can be a lot of work. Designing a site from the ground-up to be mobile and responsive doesn’t add much work to the overall redesign process. Even if the cost is about the same, if you go with a redesign, you’ll have a new, fresh site design to work with.
- Use a framework. There are several frameworks that make building a mobile-friendly, responsive site easy. We usually use bootstrap, but there are other good options like foundation, skeleton, gumby and more. Which framework you choose mostly comes down to personal preference, so let your developer chose their favorite. The important thing is that you’ll save tons of time and money by using one vs. building a responsive site from scratch.
- Test it Out. When you see your first beta version of your new responsive mobile-friendly site, test it out on your phone. It’s one thing to make Google think your site is mobile-friendly, but you also want to make sure you’re giving actual visitors a good experience while they’re there.
Q: Thanks. I feel much better.
A: That’s not a question, but you’re welcome.