Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update, dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by the media, has been in effect for almost six months. And there is little doubt that in the run-up to its initial launch back in April, there was a lot of concern regarding the degree to which it would have a negative impact on the search engine optimisation efforts of millions of businesses.
This algorithm has just received its most recent update, with Google rolling out an updated version on November 2nd. And there is still much debate around its positive and negative aspects, as well as over the extent to which its impact has lived up to the hype. So what is mobilegeddon, how has its impact been felt and did it really deserve to be seen as such a cause for concern?
The Origins of Mobilegeddon
The decision to make its search algorithm more useful for mobile users was an
easy one to make, since more people now carry out searches via Google using smartphones and tablets than on desktop PCs and laptops.
With a vast audience of people browsing the web for content from portable devices with screens of between four and 10 inches in size, sites designed solely for desktop machines are no longer fit for purpose. And rather than sending people through to pages that are unwieldy to use on mobiles, Google chose to automatically promote mobile-friendly sites to higher positions in its mobile SERPs, while penalising those that have not adapted to cater to new browsing habits.
Although there were a lot of questions about how search rank would be impacted in the run-up to the roll-out of the new algorithm, Google tried to assuage fears by claiming that this algorithm would be a little more subtle in its workings than the likes of Panda and Penguin in the past.
The amount of coverage given to the mobile-friendly algorithm update may not have been reflected in the subsequent impact of its rollout, but the flurry of activity it prompted certainly had a positive impact. Within just two months early in 2015 there was an almost five per cent increase in the number of mobile-friendly sites.
Many sites made the leap to embrace responsive design, enabling any page to automatically resize content and interface elements to fit devices of all types. This meant that there was also a shake-up in terms of content marketing, with businesses aiming to ensure that the text, images and media embedded on pages would also stand up to the scrutiny of Google’s new algorithm.
In reality this was a wake-up call for sites which had for too long ignored the need to address the growing popularity of mobile search and smartphone browsing habits. And conversion rate optimisation as since hinged on ensuring that landing pages work well on desktop PCs and mobiles alike, rather than solely targeting one audience at the expense of the other.
The Rise of Apps
Mobile-friendliness in web design is not the only concern for businesses wishing to succeed in the modern e-commerce market. A comScore report revealed that browser activity accounts for just 12 per cent of the time users spend on their smartphones, with apps consuming the other 88 per cent of their attention.
Transactional apps offer the opportunity for businesses to engage customers in an immersive manner not achievable via a website alone. And Google has been making in-app content easier to search for some time, giving retailers a further opportunity to boost conversion rates. So when it comes to the mobile-friendly update, this is only a piece of the puzzle that businesses must assemble in order to succeed.
If your website has been effected by one of Google’s algorithm updates, get in touch for expert advice on penalty recovery and getting you back into the search results, #LetsTalk