Google updates its search algorithm up to 500-600 times per year. Normally these changes don’t turn heads. However, today Google launched a search engine algorithm update that some are referring to as Mobilegeddon.
The news? Google is giving preference to mobile-friendly sites when running searches from mobile devices.
The search engine giant assigns priority in search results to websites designed specifically to work on smartphones in an attempt to improve the experience when people search from their smartphones. Google wants developers to make their sites look and function better on smaller screens: for example, by using bigger text, and links that are farther apart and easier to tap. According to USA Today, more than half of all Google-based searches now come from mobile devices. With TechCrunch reporting that 44% of the Fortune 500 companies failing Google’s mobile-friendly tests, this is a big deal.
In short: if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it could materially affect your company’s search rankings.
And it’s not just smaller companies that are failing Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Larger companies such as Versace have sites that don’t meet Google’s new criteria. The Wall Street Journal just launched a redesign of its site to make it more mobile-friendly, with a guided tour of the numerous, helpful changes. However, the news giant is still playing catch-up to competitors, according to NeimanLab. Back in January, Bloomberg.com launched its staid website, recapturing BusinessWeek’s emotional covers on the web with a vibrant, responsive design “that pulls you in as much as it spits in your eye.” But good news for Bloomberg: it passes Google’s test.
Here are two things you can do right now to help minimize the chances your company’s website will miss out, thanks to Google’s changes:
- Run your site’s URL through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. You can type in your website’s URL, and in seconds the tool will let you know whether Google views the site as mobile friendly.
- Review Google’s new criteria and additional suggested tips, which include links to helpful resources such as Google’s Webmasters Mobile Guide and Mobile usability report. Quick changes (like fixing broken links or eliminating content inaccessible from mobile devices) go a long way in making your website more mobile friendly.
Google’s algorithm changes are sending the message loud and clear: we are moving to a mobile-centric world, and you had better catch up.
Kawika Holbrook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at @kawika.