Is your WordPress site mobile ready? If not, on April 21st you may find it harder to rank in Google’s mobile search results!
Google changes its search algorithm hundreds of times over the course of a year. While most of these changes are minor, every few months Google rolls out a “major” algorithmic update that affects search results significantly.
For search marketers, knowing the dates of these Google changes can help explain fluctuations in rankings and organic website traffic. Understanding these updates can be critical to search engine optimization for your business.
Why Responsive Design Websites?
Google recognizes the popularity of mobile web browsing. In fact, local mobile searches are projected to exceed desktop searches by nearly 2 billion for this year. That means that 66% of consumers are more likely to purchase from mobile friendly sites.
Is Your Site Mobile Ready?
Here is a great tool that can help you see if your website is responsive, check out Google’s mobile self-check.
How Will Google’s Changes Affect Your Website?
Google announced algorithm updates will have a “significant impact” worldwide on mobile search results. The update improves rankings for sites that provide a mobile-friendly experience to searchers on mobile devices, and, demotes sites that do not provide that.
Please note that the update only affects mobile search results: (searches from smartphones and tablets — not searches conducted on desktop or laptop computers).
The algorithm applies worldwide, page by page, on a real-time basis. “Worldwide” means that the algorithm update affects mobile searchers and search results in all countries at the same time. “Page by page” means that each page’s mobile friendliness is judged separately. That’s good news if parts of your site are mobile friendly but other parts are not. The unfriendly sections will not cause your entire site to be ranked as unfriendly. “Real time” means that you can see mobile ranking results right away if you have taken the steps to make your site mobile ready. The next time the Googlebot crawls your site pages and determines that they are newly mobile friendly, the mobile-friendly ranking algorithm would kick in for those pages.
Beware, though, because real time also works both ways. If an update were made to your site that makes pages unfriendly, the mobile-friendly ranking algorithm would kick in for those pages the next time your site is crawled.
Google’s stated goal is to improve searcher experience. It’s frustrating to do a search from a mobile device and land on a site that is so small you can’t read the content and click on the links without pinching and zooming and scrolling. We have all landed on sites like that and know how annoying it can be.
Google is converting that frustration into an improvement in its search results, so that more mobile searchers will land on sites with positive mobile experiences. It makes sense from the searcher’s perspective, which is what matters to Google.
But from a sale’s perspective, it could be a very costly change, in terms of lost mobile traffic and revenue.
Example of Mobile Impact
Say you use your smartphone to search for something specific, starting April 21, the results on your smartphone will be reordered based on the relative mobile friendliness of the sites. The sites listed on the first page of your search results will be the ones that are mobile ready.
Google will use its new algorithm to identify and label websites that are mobile friendly. If your website is awarded the mobile friendly label, it will rank higher in the mobile search results. Having a mobile friendly website will increase your chances in of appearing prominently in search results.
What If You are NOT Ready by April 21st?
Google’s algorithm acts in real-time, which means that you can upgrade to a responsive design website after April 21. However, in order to reap the benefits on day one, you should prepare beforehand.
The worst-case scenario is that all of the sales-driven organic search traffic via a mobile device disappears instantly when the change happens. That’s the worst case. It can’t get worse than losing it all. In all likelihood, the worst case won’t actually occur, and the decrease would be more like 80 percent, or 50 percent. But measuring the worst case helps you decide if the issue really is significant enough to act on immediately.
Start by measuring the amount of affected traffic and sales today and determine the real impact of losing it all. Remember, filter the visits and sales so that the data only contains organic search-driven traffic via a mobile device. Then determine the impact to your ecommerce business if those traffic and sales disappeared completely on April 21.
That’s how to determine the actual cost. What’s more difficult to measure, however, is the opportunity that this algorithm update represents.
How many of your competitors will be boosted by the mobile-friendly update? How many will be demoted? Can you capitalize on their loss? Is this an opportunity to surpass the competition? I would seriously take this into consideration!
What Else is Google Changing?
Google strives to limit the amount of spam its users experience. Consequently, the team announced last week that they plan to penalize doorway pages.
What are doorway pages? Doorway pages are designed for one specific purpose: to help websites rank higher in search results. These pages typically do not feature any useful information, and they all lead to the same destination.
If you use doorway pages, you may see your ranking results change soon. To determine what Google considers a doorway page, refer to the questions Google mentioned below:
- Is the purpose to optimize for search engines and funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site, or are they an integral part of your site’s user experience?
- Are the pages intended to rank on generic terms yet the content presented on the page is very specific?
- Do the pages duplicate useful aggregations of items (locations, products, etc.) that already exist on the site for the purpose of capturing more search traffic?
- Are these pages made solely for drawing affiliate traffic and sending users along without creating unique value in content or functionality?
- Do these pages exist as an “island?” Are they difficult or impossible to navigate to from other parts of your site? Are links to such pages from other pages within the site or network of sites created just for search engines?
Get Your Site Ready!
If your WordPress site is still set up on an old theme that is not mobile responsive, then you still have time! Contact me today for a site makeover and you will be saved from the upcoming MOBILEGEDDON!
What do you think about Google’s changes? Share your thoughts in our comments box below.
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