Justin Cooke

April 13, 2015

Are your websites ready for Mobilegeddon?

In February, Google posted an announcement that there will be an algorithm change on April 21st, 2015 that will “have a significant impact”, affecting mobile searches worldwide. If you haven’t been keeping up with the latest changes, it’s worth noting that the Webmaster Trends team was quoted as saying this new update will have a larger impact than both the Panda and Penguin updates.

Yikes.

Both of those updates had some massive effects on the SERP’s and you should expect similar results here.

Will This Affect Me?

Possibly. The first thing to do is to use Google’s tool to determine whether you’re mobile friendly or not. It’s easy to use and gives you a quick “Yes” or “No” as to whether your page will pass the check.

Keep in mind is that this tool checks one page only. (Not a site-wide check) You may have several pages on your site that are responsive and mobile-friendly while the rest are not. If your design isn’t mobile responsive site-wide, I would suggest checking each of the most important pages on the site to make sure they pass.

The second thing to consider is how much of your website traffic today is coming via mobile? If this percentage is small (i.e. under 10%) and you’re not yet mobile ready, don’t fret too much. While you may see a significant change in the mobile search results, this should only affect rankings for searches on mobile – desktop results and rankings will likely remain unaffected. (For now)

What Can I Do?

If your site did NOT pass the test, you have a few options:

1. Switch To A Responsive Theme

Google has already stated that they prefer responsive web design and feel it’s the best option for users. Check out the responsive WP themes over at ThemeForest or pick up any of the responsive Genesis child themes here. If you’re building eCommerce sites, consider a switch to Shopify and check out any of their responsive templates.

Advantages: Google/User preferred, applied across entire site, updated look/feel

Disadvantages: Time consuming, frontloaded work/costs, may lose conversions

2. Have A Designer/Developer Redesign Your Site

If switching themes is just not possible, you can look to hire a designer + developer to switch your current design into one that’s responsive. You’ll end up with a site that looks much like the one you have now with only a few tweaks/changes.

Advantages: Can continue to use current design, no conversion loss

Disadvantages: Most expensive, time consuming, may miss certain pages

3. Create A Mobile Site On A Subdomain

Rather than switching themes or hiring a designer/developer to redesign your current site into one that’s responsive, you can instead opt to create a mobile-specific site on a subdomain. You’ll have the advantage of leaving your current theme alone completely and still providing for a good user experience for those on mobile. i.e. m.YOURSITE.com

Advantages: Can customize for mobile users, cheaper than a full redesign

Disadvantages: Costs and hassle of updating mobile and desktop sites, adjustments required with browser changes

4. Fix Or Remove Elements That Are Keeping You From Passing The Test

We had an issue where a site was built on a responsive WordPress theme, but the issue that was keeping the site from passing the mobile test was the table being used on the site. We were using TablePress and simply needed to add the extension that made the tables responsive. Alternatively, we could have just removed the table completely to fix the issue.

Advantages: Quick/easy fix, least expensive

Disadvantages: Can’t always tell where the issue is, won’t fix site-wide responsiveness issues

Things To Keep In Mind

1. You should really be building mobile-friendly sites for your users, anyway. We’ve crossed the tipping point – the majority of digital media consumption now comes through mobile. This may have hit you differently and at different times depending on your niche, but it’s clear where we’re headed. As more and more of your customers are looking for your website or business on their smartphone, it just makes good business sense to give them what they want.

2. This is not a penalty. It may feel that way, though, if you find yourself slipping down the page in mobile search results. The good news here is that because you haven’t been penalized or deindexed, you’re in a much better position to fix the problem and gain back your lost mobile traffic.

3. We’re watching seller listings and submissions carefully. There were a couple of listed sites on our marketplace that weren’t mobile friendly and we’re working with the sellers to make the necessary changes. We’re also looking at all new website submissions to make sure they’re either mobile friendly or haven’t seen a significant decrease in traffic with the update.

Here are some more resources to review:

Google’s Mobile Friendly Test

Moz – 9 Things You Need To Know About The Mobile-Friendly Update

SearchEngineLand – How Large Will The Mobile Update Be?

Have you prepared your site for the Mobilegeddon update? What tips or tricks do you recommend?



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Discussion

Leave a comment
  1. Will Ward says:

    Also for WordPress users, there is a very basic mobile theme that you can activate as part of the Jetpack package. I just tried it for a couple of my sites that failed the test. It screwed up a few of the custom design elements, but they both passed the “test.”
    I believe you can then hire a designer to come in and clean up the mobile site with some custom code. That’s what I’m planning on doing at least. Thanks for the post! -Will

  2. Daniele says:

    Perfect timing guys!

    I worked on this today for some Adsense sites, and spent quite some time on it.
    For WordPress sites I choose the ‘WP Touch’ plugin, that serves a dedicate theme for smartphone users.
    The theme included is nice, clean and can be customized to add the ads code.
    I like this solution, having a separate theme allows to test ads placement and see what’s the best for mobile users.

    Cheers

  3. Yaro says:

    This will affect only mobile ranking and it won’t affect desktop ranking. And there will be definitely winners and losers.
    There are some benefits from creating an app for your website because this will increase mobile ranking as well.

    Cheers,
    Yaro

  4. Joe says:

    I’ve read dozens of articles on this topic over the past few weeks (who hasn’t!), and this is probably the most succinct, straight-forward analysis on it I’ve found. I’m going to share it with my email list today. Thanks Guys!

  5. […] Mobilegeddon: Website Owner’s Guide To Google’s Mobile Update […]

  6. […] Google’s Mobilegeddon Update […]

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