By now, you've probably heard about the impending "Mobilegeddon" that will be happening on April 21st. It sounds a bit ominous but, trust us, it's not as bad as you think. Let us catch you up. In February, Google announced that it would begin using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal for the search engine, meaning that mobile-friendly websites would appear higher in search results.
"Starting April 21, 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." — Google
And thus ensued the blitz of doomsday articles warning businesses that their online presence would be virtually dead if they didn't have a mobile website in place by April 21st. While it is not as dire as that, there are certain things you should consider before the April deadline arrives. As Google said, there will be a significant impact in search results due to this change. While it doesn't constitute a freak out, it certainly shouldn't be ignored. Here are three important questions to ask before April 21st:
1. How do I know if my website is mobile-friendly? This is the easy question, since Google provided a mobile-friendly test that businesses can take to determine if their websites meet the mark. After entering the URL you want to test, Googlebots do a quick scan and come back with a grade of "Mobile-friendly" or "Not mobile-friendly". The best thing about this tool is that it will also tell you why your site is not approved, so you know the type of changes that need to be made. Some of the main reasons why a website may not be declared mobile-friendly include:
- Text too small to read
- Links too close together
- Content wider than the screen
- Slow loading speed
For details on how to fix these issues, Google provides an Insights link that gives longer descriptions and tutorials.
2. What can I do between now and April 21st? There's not a lot of time left until the April 21st deadline, but that's no reason to panic. The good news is that most businesses have been moving towards a mobile-friendly presence for some time now and Google is just further encouraging that. Chances are your website is already set, if not on it's way to being mobile-friendly. If you don't have a mobile presence at all and are legitimately worried, then take a moment to use Google's mobile-friendly tool and find out what issues need to be addressed. There may just be a simple fix to make your site more mobile-friendly.
3. What happens if I don't meet the deadline? The world, as you know it, will end. Just kidding. Life will go on and the Googlebots will continue to evaluate websites for mobile-friendliness on a regular basis. That's the good news about this algorithm change: Google will not put you permanently in the penalty box if your site isn't mobile-friendly on Day 1. Instead, Googlebots will continue to crawl individual pages on a regular basis and adjust their ratings accordingly. This means that if your website doesn't pass the mobile-friendly test on April 21st, you can still make needed changes and have it re-evaluated later. You've all heard the statistics: 80% of Internet users own a smartphone, mobile search will surpass desktop in 2015, and (the best one yet) 70% of people would rather give up alcohol for a week than their smartphone.
It's no secret. We LOVE our phones, and we're using them to make purchases, find information, and browse websites more than ever before. If you haven't already moved towards a mobile-friendly presence, now is the time. Google is giving everyone the final nudge they need to make the web a better, more user-friendly place.