Published On: April 16, 2015
Author: Eric Oliver

Preparing for Google's Mobile Friendly Update on April 21

Are you ready?

Google has decided to make another huge algorithm update that will effect more websites than Penguin and Panda combined.  If you remember, Penguin was released in 2012 and it targeted websites that were over-optimized for keywords and used spam tactics to get traffic…it impacted about 4% of the entire internet.  Panda was released in 2011 and targeted content farms and and websites that had barely any content…it impacted about 12% of the entire internet.

This one will be worse for websites that are not keeping up to date with current standards and or that have not been updated within the last year.

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What Does This Mean To Me?

Basically, it means that if you have not been standardized or have not kept up with content on your site, you are in trouble.

Here is what you need to know:

  • The algorithm is being applied page-by-page. Pages that are mobile friendly will receive the boost. Pages that are not will not be boosted until they are re-crawled and are showing to be mobile-friendly.
  • The algorithm is rolling out world-wide and in all languages. Everyone on the Internet will be affected by it.
  • This is a real-time algorithm. If Google’s crawler visits your previously non-mobile-friendly web page and discovers that now it is mobile-friendly then the change in the mobile search results will be immediate. Typically when sites are crawled after algorithm changes it can take up to 3-6 weeks for your site to be reindexed.
  • As per Google, if you have the mobile-friendly tag in the search results you are Good To Go.
  • Non mobile friendly websites will not be penalized. The algorithm is boosting mobile friendly sites.

For a normal user, this means that all of the mobile-friendly pages you are competing with will instantly jump ahead of your non-mobile friendly site. For websites that do not conform, that could mean a 35-65% instant loss of organic search traffic for your outdated website.

What Can I Do?

Go responsive now! Not a mobile redirect, but a fully responsive website that will pass Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool with flying colors. Time is running out to get ahead of it. You have heard from us and probably every other agency you have talked to that responsive design is important, but this does not begin to cover how important it is.

If your website fails this test, you are among the millions of other websites that will be hit when this update is pushed out.  If you are overwhelmed, we can help.  Let us make your website responsive.

Site speed matters as well! Mobile devices are the reason behind this change and a poorly performing mobile website will not help you in Google’s favor. Typically, they have slower internet connections than your desktop and will take longer to load…you need to fix that as well.

If your website takes forever to load on a mobile device, having a responsive site may not help you much.  If you are loading to slow, we can help.  Let us speed up your website.

I Have A Mobile Site, It Is Just A Mobile Sub Domain!

Having a separate domain displaying the same or close to the same content as your primary domain is not much better for your SEO.  Not only do you get hit with a potential for duplicate content but your primary website will still be negatively effected by this change.

Responsive design is still a newer technology, but any developer worth his weight in gold knows how to do it.  Not having a responsive website is literally biting the hand that feeds you.  Google has expressed for years that they prefer responsive design over mobile redirects.  Here, lets weigh the pros and cons of each:

Cost: Mobile redirects are typically cheaper (or at least used to be, but now frameworks exists to help speed this process up).
Advantage: Mobile, unless you are having a new site designed, then it is usually a requirement of design.

SEO: Mobile sites lack most if not all SEO considerations and are difficult to optimize. Responsive sites use what your desktop site use plus has the advantage of incorporating OpenGraph data for easy sharing.
Advantage: Responsive

Design: Mobile sites are designed for 1 screen resolution unless they are manipulated with JS ot show for different devices, but not every device is considered since there are so many to keep up with.  Responsive design use media queries built into the stylesheet to work with every resolution available on the market now and in the future.
Advantage: Responsive

Link Building: It is more cost effective to build links to one site then to two.
Advantage: Responsive

Maintenance: Mobile sites tend to require you to maintain multiple code bases and updates.  Mobile sites need to be maintained in order to keep up with new resolutions and devices made available on the market. Responsive design responds to a device so it is always up to date and only requires you to maintain one code base and content base.
Advantage: Responsive

Preferred Method of Search Engines: Responsive websites have been mentioned multiple times by multiple search engines as their preferred method.  Just look at what Google says about their recommendation.
Advantage: Responsive

The Winner: Responsive by a long shot.

If your website is not responsive, then you must upgrade it immediately or you will lose your mobile rank.  We can help.


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Posted In: Business, Design, SEO, User Experience, Website Design, Website Development


About the Author

Eric Oliver

Director of Website Development

With over a decade of experience designing and developing websites, Eric has worked in every position of the agency ladder. He is fluent in multiple backend and front end programming languages and has written multiple international best selling plugins for WordPress. He has been part of or is still part of many startups. He is the Director of Website Development for Future Design Group and one of it's founding partners.