“Mobilegeddon is here…”
It sounds as if someone is going to get hurt doesn’t it?
Businesses can relax however as I believe that a fairly major change by Google will actually help businesses that respond effectively (or that already have the right strategy in place) to win new customers and retain existing ones more easily.
Unless you are massively into your technology, then you probably have not heard of ‘Mobilegeddon’. If you own a small or medium-sized business then you need to get up to speed with Google’s latest algorithm update or risk facing the ‘searchpocolypse’.
As of the 20th of April 2015 sites that are not ‘mobile friendly’ will attract less favour in terms of search rankings than those that are deemed to be so.
What do you need to know?
Firstly, only smartphones are affected. Google’s search results on desktop and tablets will not be impacted by the new algorithm. But it’s still a big deal, because mobile makes up about half of all Google searches. The stakes are therefore high.
The top spot on a search page typically attracts 20% to 30% of the page’s clicks. Positions two to three generate 5% to 10% of the clicks, and links below that receive less than 1% of users’ attention.
Next, and take a deep breath, websites can also be adjusted ‘on the fly’. Unlike previous algorithm tweaks, websites can upgrade their ‘mobile-friendliness’ at any time to appear higher in Google’s search results – it doesn’t have to be done immediately but should be a priority.
It is not all about ‘mobile friendliness’ however – ‘mobile-unfriendly’ sites could still get favourable search placements as Google’s algorithm judges sites based on numerous criteria, of which ‘mobile-friendliness’ is just one. The company’s aim is to provide the most relevant results, even if it’s to a site that isn’t optimised for mobile.
Lastly, in order to stay in Google’s good graces, websites must be designed so they load quickly on mobile devices. Content must also be easily accessible by scrolling up and down — without having to also swipe to the left or right. It also helps if all buttons for making purchases or taking other actions on the website can be easily seen and touched on smaller screens.
In the midst of all the talk of ‘mobilegeddon’, one thing might not be immediately obvious, and that is that if Google changing its algorithm to reward good user experience has you scrambling to cope, you likely have deeper problems than your website.
For all the hand-wringing over this change, Google is simply affirming those who have followed best practices and adapted their sites to deliver the best possible user experience. With 60% of all digital media consumption now happening on mobile devices, there’s too much at stake to neglect such massive scale of adoption.
In the past there were no direct major ‘bonus points’ from Google for embracing responsive design or ensuring fast speed of loading. But that’s not the real benefit of doing these things. With users (read: customers), such accommodations have always increased utility, sharing and return visits.
It can take announcements like this from Google to motivate change, often revealing a more significant problem underlying in modern website design: lack of a customer-centric approach to marketing.
Those who’ve always thought of optimum mobile design as a nice-to-have, instead of a core requirement, are in trouble with this update from Google. And the trouble can be traced to not taking the customer experience seriously enough. The breakdown occurs not from Google’s recent change, but when user experience is considered optional rather than mandatory.
The good news is, there’s no need to let this ‘mobilegeddon’ go to waste. It’s the perfect opportunity to take stock, revise your ways of working, and get busy making your site exactly what it needs to be for users.
Finally, you may be interested to note that Google aren’t taking on this ‘mobile friendly crusade’ as a selfless act, there’s potential major benefit for Google. Users are conducting more searches on mobile devices.
However, advertisers typically pay less for clicks from phones, because they less often lead to sales. Encouraging developers to tailor sites to look good on smartphones should lead to more sales and consequently higher prices for Google’s mobile ads.
Rob Aberdein is a Dispute Resolution Partner at national law firm Aberdein Considine, an entrepreneur and a Director of Business for Scotland.
He is a self confessed ‘tech geek’ and is fascinated about how new and emerging technologies, Web 2.0 and social media are changing and will change where and how we all do business.
He was the first lawyer to take an iPad into court in Scotland and has a post-graduate diploma in information technology and intellectual property.