Google’s Mobilegeddon Apocalypse 2015: The Reckoning

I wanted to take some time to talk about search results and SEO. Maybe a footnote about sensational headlines, but mostly about online content strategy as it applies to digital sales and marketing.

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about the latest search engine update from Google. The officially titled “mobile-friendly” update seeks to provide more relevant search results for users on mobile devices.

Since the introduction of the original iPhone in 2007, the Internet as a whole has been forced to create and adapt technologies for delivering relevant data to users on mobile devices. Similarly, Google’s mission has always been to deliver the most relevant results within the context of an individual user. In the past, search patterns, location and semantic text have always been a part of this mission. Google has been giving altered results to mobile users for a while now, but this latest update is the next logical step.

Simply put, if you make a Google search from your mobile device, a result that has been formatted for display on mobile will be given preference to one that has not. Personally, this is a welcome update for me. I can’t count the number of times I’ve searched for a restaurant location or business hours from my phone only to be greeted with a website that barely functions on my device. I’m sure everyone has had similar experiences.

As a consumer, this sounds great. However, this is Mobilegeddon. It’s going to destroy my SEO. No one is going to be able to find my site anymore. Rampant panic and fear strike business leaders everywhere.

Before you hit the panic button on your new website, it’s important to truly understand how this update affects you. At HCK2, we’ve always been very strategic about how we approach the need for responsive design or other mobile specific websites. The key is to understand your traffic. If you don’t already have an analytics package (such as Google Analytics) installed on your site, it should be your first step. These tools can tell you exactly how many people are visiting your website from a mobile device. We’ve seen a number of B2B clients who have less than one percent mobile viewership. In many cases, the cost-benefit does not exist for one percent of their traffic. Similarly, we’ve seen some clients with more than 40 percent mobile viewership. In that case, a mobile-friendly site is critical to your overall website health and optimization. So when considering this new, mobile-friendly update, you need to ask yourself if the traffic numbers justify the business need.

Before we go any further, I want to make it clear that this update affects only searches from mobile devices. As stated directly by Google, “this update has no effect on searches from tablets or desktops.”

Once you’ve determined that this mobile update could potentially affect you, it’s time to determine the best course of action. First, you should absolutely use the Google provided tool to see if you pass the mobile friendly test. If your website fails this test, give us a call and we can talk about next steps. Google has confirmed that sites without mobile friendly layouts will not immediately lose traffic on April 22. Similarly, your site will be retested every time the new ‘Googlebot for Smartphones’ crawls your website. Once it detects a mobile friendly view, you should quickly regain your previous ranking.

Regardless of your need for a mobile theme or not, the greater benefit here is that changes like these are forcing everyone in the interactive space, and marketing executives as well, to take the mobile web seriously. Mobile Internet use is quickly overtaking desktop browsing, and it’s time to decide what your mobile online strategy will be.