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Why ‘Mobilegeddon’ Is Not the End of Mobile Search As We Know It

ssterner

Scott Sterner, SVP-Search & Performance Marketing

Fire and brimstone coming down from the sky, rivers and seas boiling, 40 years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together … mass hysteria!!!

Otherwise known as Mobilegeddon.

As tends to happen whenever there are any significant changes to the Google algorithm, the initial wave of panic puts the World Wide Web on full alert for the worst-case scenarios.  While it’s hard to deny that this hasn’t spawned a cool nickname, this week’s rollout of Google’s more mobile-friendly algorithm update isn’t the end of search as we know it.  The two main changes will be using more mobile-friendly factors in its mobile search results pages, and improved ranking of more mobile apps that are indexed for signed-in users.  These enhancements have begun to roll out as of April 21, and will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide.

For anyone asking why Google is making such a dramatic change, the quick answer is improved search-experience, but the hard reality is that Google needs to hold onto web search (and the accompanied advertising revenue) that is threatened by the shift to mobile search, where the user experience hasn’t always transitioned flawlessly to smaller screen size.  So while this isn’t the altruistic approach that Google tends to make it out to be, it is a necessary improvement for consumers and marketers alike.

bill murraySpeaking of marketers, those who have been keeping up with the trends over the past few years in terms of the prominence of mobile vs. desktop search, this comes as no surprise at all.  Google’s update, first announced in February, should reward those who have made investments and enhancements towards device responsive sites.

We at Beeby Clark+Meyler are staunch advocates for mobile-first approaches to digital marketing and expect to experience lifts in mobile SERP listings on behalf of our clients.  On the flip side, sites that have not been mobile optimized will turn up less often if they aren’t compatible or user-friendly on mobile devices.

Under this change, Google now states in mobile searches which sites are “mobile friendly,” directly in its search results. To determine whether Google considers your web pages to be mobile friendly, it has provided tools and tips, including the recently rolled out Mobile-Friendly Test tool. However, some mobile-optimized sites may still not pass Google’s mobile-friendly test for a variety of reasons, the most common one being that “Googlebot for smartphones is blocked from crawling resources, like CSS and JavaScript, that are critical for determining whether the page is legible and usable on a mobile device,” states Google’s official blog. To combat this, check if the mobile-friendly test shows blocked resources (often accompanied with a partially rendered image), and allow Googlebot to crawl the necessary files. Additionally, sites won’t be able to definitively determine whether their rankings are impacted by the mobile-friendly update for another week or so, when it makes its way to all pages in the index.

There are no shortcuts if you are scrambling to adjust at this point. Focus on mobile user-experiences and be sure your site is mobile-friendly and/or device responsive, expect the massive growth of mobile to continue into the long term, and invest accordingly if you expect to continue to connect with your audiences.  Remain calm, all is well, BCM is here to help!


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