For anyone who has followed Google’s updates through the years, it should come as no surprise that an algorithm change is on the way. This change, which rolls out on April 21, will significantly favor mobile-friendly sites in search rankings. While many of Google’s past changes have been somewhat inconsequential, this change promises to have a big impact on SEO for businesses.
People are becoming more dependent on mobile search every day. The millennial generation especially relies on mobile; according to a recent Corporate Insight study, 18% of millennials are mobile-only users, compared to 5% of Generation X and 3% of baby boomers. It is no secret that mobile is the future, and with the new Google update, businesses cannot afford to ignore it. In fact, businesses can expect to see their search rankings plummet if they don’t optimize their sites for mobile. The biggest piece of the mobile-friendly puzzle is responsive design, which ensures that website content and images are optimized for all devices. With responsive design, users will get full views of a website whether they are on a desktop, mobile phone or tablet. For examples of brokerages that have adopted responsive design, check out our recent blog post.
So, which sites are in danger? It is important to note that Google’s new algorithm will analyze website pages individually, instead of the entire website as a whole. This means that some pages from the same website may appear higher in search rankings than others. Therefore, every page of a website needs to be optimized for mobile search. According to this Stratus Interactive guide, pages can lose rankings for small or disorganized text, non-responsive landing pages, calls-to-action that are too close together and more. The first step to avoiding a significant drop in search rankings is to address these issues. Google also offers a test that analyzes URLs for mobile-friendly design, but this tool does not account for every aspect of a page. For a more comprehensive review on mobile usability for a website, Google published a mobile usability report in its Webmaster Tools.
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test
While the ultimate impacts of the update are unclear, Google suggests that it will be more significant than Penguin (2012) or Panda (2011). Businesses should keep this in mind when deciding on their mobile optimization strategies.