Google Sets April 21 Deadline for Major Changes
Dubbed “Mobilegeddon” by one commentator, Google has slated April 21 as the deadline for website owners to sharpen up their acts on Smartphones or face rankings oblivion.
In stark contrast to tradition, Google has given webmasters weeks to prepare for the switch – recently announcing that the algorithm update will have a “significant impact” on search results.
“As more people use mobile devices to access the Internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns,” The Google Webmaster Central Blog says.
Late last year Google introduced new labels on Smartphone search results giving “Mobile-friendly” websites major rankings advantages over websites that weren’t configured properly” or were not “viewable on mobile devices”.
Errant webmasters began receiving warnings from Google to “fix mobile usability issues” or risk sliding down the rankings.
However, the latest announcement draws a line in the sand and leaves businesses no choice but to optimise websites or risk falling off a cliff in mobile search results.
What We Know
Google Webmaster Trends analyst Gary Illyes has shed some light on how the algorithm update will work. In a recent Q&A he said:
- Search results on tablets will not be affected
- Mobile rankings will be determined for individual pages – not whole websites.
- Just making websites Responsive may not be enough; other mobile design factors (such as click-to-call buttons instead of web forms) will also impact Smartphone search results.
Why Mobile-friendly is important in Australia
The latest Australian statistics show that the volume of data being downloaded on mobile device surged 40% in the first half of last year – much faster than fixed data.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics also found that mobiles now make up 48.5% of all Internet connections, up from a meagre 1.7% in 2006.
How To React
Google has developed a Mobile-friendly Test, an extensive Mobile-friendly Guide and a detailed Mobile Usability Report (Google login required) to help plot a path through the maze to Smartphone-ready websites.
Businesses have two clear choices:
- Develop a separate website with mobile-specific features.
- Maintain a single “Responsive” website that displays well on devices of all sizes and incorporates mobile-specific features.
We recommend option 2 to contain the costs of maintaining multiple websites and to improve long term returns because Responsive sites won’t require as much future maintenance to comply with browser updates.
If you are technically-minded and want the best mobile search results, read Google’s Recommended Configuration Guide.
Are you confident you’ve done everything possible to avoid being slugged by the changes when they go live on April 21? Read our blog about The Google Fetch tool to learn how to quickly get your website re-indexed by Google.
Of course, if you aren’t, we can handle the entire conversion project.