It’s Mobilegeddon You Guys! Are you mobile-friendly?

mobile friendly website design

What You Need To Know About Mobilegeddon and being “Mobile-Friendly”

First – you need to know that Mobilegeddon is this generation’s Y2K.  (remember Y2K?!?!)

And like Y2K – you really need to know what all of the hype is about – and what you need to do about it.

Is your site Mobile-Friendly?

Google’s algorithm has changed to reflect the popularity of mobile devices by strongly favoring websites that are mobile-friendly. The update puts such an emphasis on punishing websites that are not mobile-friendly, that it has earned the nickname “Mobilegeddon.”

Google was kind enough to warn us about this change in advance.  In fact they told us that the change would go into effect on April 21st, 2015. They even were nice enough to give us a tool that let’s us test our site to see if it passes muster. Test your site here: Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool

Respond by Being Responsive

A mobile-friendly website is one that can be viewed and used on any device. Many websites are designed for web browsers like Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer, leaving those with mobile devices and tablets struggling with navigation. Having one version of a website for desktop users and another for mobile users is the old approach – but there are many downsides  mostly the fact that you have two sites to maintain – and they don’t look alike. A website with a responsive design has no need for alternate versions. It adjusts on its own – it responds – to the size of the screen – displaying items differently depending on what device is used to view it.

The consistency of responsive designs across different devices brings a certain aesthetic appeal that users find pleasing.Having a responsive website is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury as mobile devices become more popular. For the first time, in 2014, mobile devices accounted for more Internet usage than desktops in the United States. Those numbers have already grown to over 64%. In a society where convenience is everything, browsing the Internet on a mobile device is becoming increasingly popular, especially when the alternative is hauling around a laptop.

Mobilegeddon was expected to do so much damage to non mobile-friendly websites’ rankings that the search engine gave out advance warning  – something that they very rarely do. Google even rolled out tweaks over several weeks to minimize immediate damage to websites’ traffic. When Mobilegeddon hit, responsive websites got a big boost in the search engine’s ranking, burying many websites that had not yet gone with a mobile-friendly design that adjusts for smaller screens. People all over the world had to scramble to meet the search engine’s new rules for what counts as a mobile friendly website.

Adam Bunn, an SEO director, states that the top spot on a page of search results usually earns 20 to 30 percent of the page’s clicks. The second and third positions on the page generate only five to 10 percent of the clicks. The fourth position and those after it receive one percent of clicks. The algorithm tweak may only impact smartphones and tablets, but since mobile makes up roughly half of Google searches, it’s still a considerable impact. When the search engine’s algorithm changed, some of the penalized websites lost huge amounts of their usual traffic.

The SEO adjustments included in the new algorithm also penalize websites for faulty redirects, mobile-only 404s, unplayable media, interstitials prompting users to download apps, irrelevant cross-links, slow mobile pages, and blocked CSS, JavaScript and image files. Flunking even one of the new requirements can result in a severe penalty that could cost a prominent position on the search engine’s front page. However, penalties are not as serious for websites that have highly relevant content for the user’s search terms. Many niche websites with only a few thousand results did not drop much in the search engine’s rankings, but even jumping from the first position to the second or third can be disastrous, let alone moving closer to the bottom of the page.

Where Do We Go From Here?

As browsing on mobile devices continues to grow in popularity, it’s likely search engines will further tighten their rules. Even though Mobilegeddon wrecked havoc on many websites that were not mobile-friendly, it was fairly conservative according to many SEO gurus. The SEO adjustments could have been far stricter, and the search engine’s decision to dish out fewer penalties for highly relevant websites softened the blow for many small business websites. Future updates could be harder on non-responsive websites, and they will likely come without warning. Converting your website to a responsive design could significantly boost your current Google rankings and prevent headaches in the future.

All of our sites for the past couple years have been built using Responsive Web Design methodologies. We can help you decide if building a new mobile-friendly site, or converting your existing site, is a better move for you.  Give us a shout and we’ll help you figure it all out.