There are various theories circulating online about the “Mobilegeddon”, as it is called – a tweak applied by Google to its search algorithm that will cause websites with a mobile friendly theme and functionality to rise in its search rankings. Lots of websites have spent the weeks since Google made the announcement to update their web presence to avoid disappearing from their leading positions. Let’s try to shed a bit of light on what this tweak actually means.
Google has been working on being better by the year on mobile. It only dominates the smartphone and tablet market, but when it comes to mobile search and ad serving, it has “lost its edge” lately. The update rolled out on the 21st of April will change that. To make things clear: the changes will only apply to organic search results, not ads, and will only affect smartphones, not tablets. Google did not roll out the changes without a warning, like in the case of Panda in 2011 (which made lots of websites with their content not meeting the new requirements disappear from the search results), but notified all web developers, no matter if their website offers daily news or Platinum slots, of the changes to come. They had almost two months to implement the needed changes, and Google even offered them a tool to test their website – and many of them still failed to do so.
Potent, a Seattle-based social media and SEO consulting company, has tested a number of 25,000 websites – top sites according to the Majestic Million and Alexa – for “mobile friendliness” at the beginning of this month. The results were disappointing: almost half of the websites they tested have failed to prove mobile friendly enough to keep their search position in the future. Among them they found Drugstore.com, one of the most popular online… well… drugstores, and the website run by the Department of Homeland Security. So, these two – along with 9,998 others – will be harder to find using a smartphone. An interesting to know information: most websites failed the test because of the incorrect text size and the link spacing, making them unreadable and unusable on mobile devices.
According to some statements made by the search giant (cited by Recode.net) the goal of this tweak is not to destroy websites without a proper mobile optimization, but rather to adjust the weight of the mobile friendly nature of a website in search rankings. “While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal — so if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query.”