Google Announces Mobile Search Update In April: Just How Much Traffic Will You Lose?
SEO-pocalypse. Mobilegeddon. I feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger should be walking through the door any moment. Fortunately, the earth is not going up in flames as these new monikers suggest; however, on April 21, Google will start using mobile-friendly compliance as a ranking factor in smart phone search results. And this change will have a huge impact on your site’s ranking in the search results pages.
Beginning in April, Google will reward mobile-friendly sites with better search engine rankings. If your website is not mobile-friendly, it will receive a smaller amount of search traffic, and you’ll need to rely solely on your current desktop traffic. Google states in the recent announcement:
“As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns. We will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
So let’s say you choose to ignore Google’s preference and simply rely on your desktop traffic to bring in new sales, clients and patients. Why is that so bad?
Well, your overall website traffic will drop. And I think we can agree that that’s not good. Mobile search takes up about 30% of total web traffic in North America (certain industries get closer to 50%). Remember, Google is always updating and optimizing its algorithms for the benefit of the user, not your business. If over half of your users are searching on a phone or tablet, Google wants to return their search queries with the best possible content available. That means mobile friendly sites get invited to the ball, and the others are left out in the cold.
Example: Search Engine Land conducted a test on Moz’s site for traffic fallout. They found a shift in 5 positions on the search engine results page (SERP). Come April 21, this could translate into a loss of 41% of Moz’s smartphone traffic and a 3% loss of Moz’s total traffic. That’s significant.
And it’s not simply a trend. That total number of users searching on smart devices will only increase in the future, so we can’t rely on Google reverting back and suddenly deciding to favor websites that are functional disasters on mobile.
Bottom line: it’s time to upgrade. To stay competitive, your business must adapt to Google’s preferences.
updating your website for mobile use: your choices
You have two options when upgrading to play by Google’s rules.
Mobile friendly refers to a site that displays accurately between your desktop/laptop computer and mobile devices such as iPhones or iPads. While it will appear smaller on a phone and may not work perfectly on a touchscreen tablet, a mobile friendly website will be perfectly functional.
A responsive website is a more advanced website. This means that your site reformats itself for handheld or tablet devices. For example, you’ll notice larger navigation buttons, reformatted content, and stacked images on the mobile version. Also, it’s Google’s recommended configuration . . . so we’ll just call that the ultimate seal of approval.
While responsive is better overall, Google has made the announcement as it pertains to mobile friendly. The search engine giant is not (yet) pitting mobile responsive against mobile friendly.
Now is the time to pull the trigger on that redesign you’ve been putting off. Check out our portfolio of mobile responsive sites and let us get started on yours!