On April 21, 2015 Google unleashed an update to their search algorithm that targeted the “mobile-readiness” of websites and scared the piss out of companies around the world. But, like most panics, the reality and the fear-stoking were far different.
Ok, let’s take a look at what was claimed. Google was changing their algorithms and if your site wasn’t deemed “mobile-friendly” by Google’s tester, then your site would be dropped like a rock from the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Pretty straight-forward and terrifying. Damn, better spend a bundle on hiring someone to fix your site right now!! Except, that wasn’t the truth.
First things first, Google’s Mobile-Friendly Tester didn’t work. It reported falsely that a site wasn’t properly prepared. Time and time again, I tested a variety of websites and while there were some legitimate issues found, almost every single time, an issue that had either been fixed or was right to begin with was listed as an issue. So, starting off many people who took the time to test were a bit panicked. But was your site really going to get dropped if you weren’t prepared? The real answer is MAYBE. See, the change to rankings only affected mobile search results, and with good reason. Mobile searching, searches made from a mobile device, make up 50% of all searches and it’s just getting higher. Think of your own behavior. When you’re out and about, don’t you search for stuff? More and more each time, right? So, if makes complete sense that when Google gets you results, that experience should be optimized for mobile. So, now it comes down to your industry. Some are much more frequently interacted with from a mobile device. Restaurants, for example. 77% of restaurant web searches are done from mobile devices. If you find a restaurant on Yelp and go to their site while walking down the street, hopefully not bumping into anyone, you shouldn’t be scrolling sideways and in circles to look over the menu and make your reservation. Same thing with travel sites. Most people interact with airline websites when they’re at or on their way to the airport.
Now, more and more, people are using apps for these kinds of interactions. My iPhone is littered with apps from Yelp to Delta to LinkedIN, so the only time I interact with their full sites is on my desktop. But think about the times you just want to hit that one site. You don’t want to bother downloading the app to hit it once in a blue moon, so you pull it up on your mobile device. If you’re having a hard time navigating, you A. will bounce from the site leading Google to believe that the search result was not a relevant one and B. You’re less likely to go back to that site on either mobile or desktop…a LOT less likely.
So, we see that it behooves websites to be mobile-friendly, but if you’re a small business where people are not generally searching for you from a mobile device, was it really a panic? The answer is a big NO. In desktop impression and traffic results, I’ve seen little to no difference since the April 21 change. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, every website really SHOULD get themselves looking right on mobile devices. Even if it’s one potential customer a month looking at your site on mobile, and it’s probably more, your site should always look it’s best.
How did you fare? Did Mobilegeddon affect your sites? I’d love to know.