Will April 21st be an Armageddon for your website’s mobile SEO traffic?
The countdown is on. We’ve been warned. On April 21, the search engine giant, Google, will be turning the switch up on its mobile search algorithm. This expansion of using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal will have a significant impact on how websites rank in mobile searches. If you haven’t made the change to a mobile-friendly website, time is running out.
Google rarely announces algorithm changes. That fact that they made such an explicit warning only adds to the anticipated magnitude of this update. The official Google Webmaster Central Blog announcement, Finding more mobile-friendly search results, states,
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.
Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?
This past week, one of our clients received an unsolicited email from a design company that was a classic example of shock email marketing. The email used some very gripping sales copy about the doom that will happen on April 21st for all websites that are not mobile friendly. Our client contacted me immediately, and I assured that his website is mobile friendly.
My intention with this article is not to bring undue alarm, but to present the facts. Before you read any further, if you are unsure if your website passes Google’s definition of a mobile website, please go to Google’s tool at:
Why Would Google Make this Huge Change to Mobile Search?
Google’s quest to provide its users with the best overall user experience isn’t new. With the growing use of mobile to conduct searches, Google has made it a goal to offer mobile users “the full richness of the web.” According to Google,
In the USA, 94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones. Interestingly, 77% of mobile searches occur at home or at work, places where desktop computers are likely to be present.
In June of 2013, the company announced that it would be making changes in rankings of smartphone search results.
The announcement of the April 21st deadline comes as the final wake up call for those who have put moving to mobile on the back burner. Google wants to serve “relevant, high quality search results that are optimized” for user’s devices. The wake up call is clear: provide a mobile website or see a sizeable loss in organic mobile search traffic.
Facts about Google’s Mobilegeddon
Jennifer Slegg, founder and editor of TheSEMPost, published an article about a question and answer session with Gary Illyes, a Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google, about the upcoming mobile ranking changes. Here are a few key factors from this Q&A session:
- Responsive does not have a ranking benefit. *
- Mobile friendliness is analyzed page by page.
- This update will not impact desktop searches.
- Google will discover mobile friendliness on a URL by URL basis after a website has been made mobile friendly.
* Although a responsive website is not a ranking factor in this mobile algorithm update, Google recommends responsive website design.
How You Can Determine How Much Traffic You Might Lose
There are a lot of predictions on how much traffic will be lost after the April 21 mobile ranking factor algorithm update. You can determine how much mobile traffic you are receiving with Google Analytics.
David Kutcher of Social Media Today suggests the use of metrics to guide our decisions in his article, How Much Will the Google Mobile Armageddon Affect Your Site Traffic? He created an extremely helpful Google Analytics dashboard that you can add to your Analytics dashboard to show organic mobile traffic.
Below is an example of this dashboard for one of our clients.
In the example above,
- 74% of the site’s total traffic came from Google Organic Search
- 36% of the site’s total traffic came from mobile Google Organic Search
- 49% of the total Google Organic Search came from a mobile phone
It is clear that the website in this example would have a significant impact in mobile search results if it was not mobile friendly after the April 21st deadline.
To add David Kutcher’s dashboard to your Google Analtyics account, please log into your account and go to:
Google has made it crystal clear. On April 21st, the search engine Goliath will be dialing up the mobile ranking factor on mobile search results. This is a result of the company’s overall objective to offer the best overall experience for mobile users using mobile search.
If you do not have a mobile website, the time is now before the Google Mobilegeddon on April 21st. If you are not sure how to go about doing this, we are here to help. Please contact us or call us today at: