Starting April 21, if you’re website isn’t a mobile or responsive site, it’s likely it’s going to be harder to rank in Google’s mobile search results. The reason is because Google has announced its new algorithm updates will have a “significant impact” on mobile search results worldwide for mobile searchers. Websites that provide a mobile-friendly experience to searchers on mobile devices will take higher ranking over sites that don’t. I discussed this issue in a previous blog, but because this is such an important topic that affects all of us and because I received so much feedback on my last post about it, I thought I should cover the topic again in more detail.
Here are what I think are some of the important takeaways:
- These changes only apply to mobile search results, like those done on a smartphone or tablet. So, searches done on a desktop or laptop computer will not be affected.
- This new algorithm affects mobile searches worldwide and not just in the US.
- Each page of your website is judged for its mobile friendliness separately. So, the unfriendly sections of your site won’t cause your entire site to be ranked unfriendly.
- Once you make your website mobile friendly, your ranking will improve immediately as Googlebot crawls your pages and determines that they are newly mobile friendly, and your ranking will improve.
- If you make an update to your website that causes it to become unfriendly to mobile searches, then your ranking will go down the next time your site is crawled.
- Searches done on Google through an Android app on a mobile device for content that has been indexed on Android apps will now be ranked in search results. iOS apps will not be included in this.
Why the Change and What Exactly Does It Mean for You?
This update from Google is in response to the growing number of consumers who do Internet searches on their mobile devices. Anyone who has ever done a search on their phone knows how frustrating it is when a website doesn’t load onto your mobile device properly. Google’s new algorithm rectifies this situation for the searcher. Looking at the situation from an e-commerce perspective; however, isn’t quite as smooth a transition and could potentially lead to costly updates and lost mobile traffic and revenue. The question that is on everyone’s mind is exactly how this change will affect SEO. Will the current #1 search result fall to a listing on subsequent pages if it’s not mobile friendly? Will the current #10 search result now rank much higher just because it’s mobile friendly? We won’t know the answers to these questions for sure until the launch on April 21. For searches that are done specifically for a brand (like “Footlocker Nike running shoes”), I’m guessing Google will honor the searcher’s e-commerce brand navigational search intent and bring up the requested website first in the search listing. I’m also guessing that for searches for specific product brands (like Nike running shoes) the new algorithm will rank higher those sites that carry Nike running shoes that are mobile friendly; however, for answers to these, we’ll also have to wait and see.
What You Need to Do Today to be Ready April 21
You need to determine if Google sees your pages as mobile friendly. It’s not enough to just think your website is mobile friendly or assume your agency is handling it. You have to know what Google determines algorithmically because Google has total control over how your website ranks.
How Google’s new algorithm affects your e-commerce business depends in part on what your mobile search performance looks like now. Remember that the only traffic and sales at risk here is organic searches done on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. Know what percentage of your visitors is on these devices and you have insight as to the impact on your e-commerce business if you don’t make the necessary changes.
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