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Google's Mobilegeddon

  • 5 min
  • April 7, 2015
    • Google
    • Digital Strategy
    • Mobilegeddon

If you haven’t heard, Google is going to be making a major algorithm change on April 21st, and will start promoting mobile friendly sites.  This change will have an effect on every site on search.  Normally, Google Search updates are promoted regularly, and not a concern for sites that play by the rules.  These update announcements are normally vague, affect a small portion of total searches, and are reported first by the trades before a simple confirm and deny by the Big G.

The intensity of this update must be huge since Google itself has announced their intentions weeks in advance. From Google’s lips to your ears, “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.” [1]

For a company that prides itself on the secret sauce of its Big Mac (the search algorithm), this is the big one.

The update is drastic, but to understand search requires an understanding of the market. Increasingly, users hit multiple brand interactions across different devices and channels throughout the consumer journey. According to Pew Research Center smartphone ownership is at 64% and tablet at 42% in the US[2], with adoption continuing to increase.  Android and iOS devices use Google by default for mobile search traffic, and Google also owns almost 84% market share in the US[3], as reported by Stat Counter in Dec 2014.

Keeping users on Google Search by providing relevant results and serving ads is is the largest revenue driver in Google’s portfolio.  The Google Display Network also relies on AdSense space for banner and video ad placement, providing additional revenue for their business model.

For those of us who follow Google’s business, the writing has been on the wall. There have been signs that this change has been coming, and the move is a warning to comply or face the consequences. One of the biggest indicators took place in July 2013, with AdWords Enhanced Campaigns. Google removed the ability of advertisers to bid Search campaigns exclusively on mobile devices, and tablet and desktop bids were combined. 

So how to can you determine if your site will be demoted?   

PageSpeed Insights, Mobile Friendly Test and Google Webmaster Tools:

Make sure that you are set up with a Google Webmaster Tools account. With PageSpeed Insights[4], site speed is measured (another crucial rank indicator) alongside mobile experience.  Google has also added a Mobile Friendly Test[5] site   Over the past year, these two indicators have been increasingly relevant in predicting high-ranking sites in search results.

Google Analytics:

Annotate your Google Analytics profile on April 21st, segment mobile, and compare source/medium (google/organic) before and after for any site effects.  It should be obvious within a few days what the impact is to the site.

How Irish Titan has prepared for this change:

Irish Titan has been preparing for this change by adopting a mobile-first responsive approach to website projects. As part of our Business First, Online Second™ ethos, we realize that not factoring mobile is detrimental to the long-term success of our partners. Mobile will continue to grow, and we want to ensure that our site builds facilitate long-term growth.

This is the end of an era, but the start of a new one.  Looking at the glass half-full, it creates a timely opportunity to businesses with mobile optimized properties.  Remember, an opportunity becomes a missed opportunity when it’s not taken.


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