#mobilegeddon – is your website ready?

On 21st April 2015, Google will change its search algorithm to favour mobile-friendly websites, which has the potential to have a bigger impact on search rankings than we’ve seen with any other algorithm changes in the past. Hence why it’s been dubbed #mobilegeddon.

By some estimations, 60 percent of Google searches are now carried out on mobile devices so it’s no surprise that Google wants to enhance the search experience for its biggest user group.

And this increase isn’t just people like me searching for new shoes from Topshop. B2B buyers have also made a significant jump to mobile browsing. At Fifth Ring, we’ve seen a huge shift in how people view our own website. In the last year, whilst desktop sessions on our website rose by 35 percent, mobile sessions increased by a whopping 158 percent and tablets by 89 percent.

So, how do you know if your site is going to be at risk? The quick way to find out is to Google your website on a mobile, and check if it has the ‘mobile-friendly’ label, like this:

Google has also provided some tools to help website owners check and prepare for the change.

1. The mobile-friendly test 

2. Use your Webmaster Tools account to get a full list of mobile usability issues across your site using the Mobile Usability Report.

Google confirmed last week that sites are being regarded as mobile friendly or not, there is no subtlety involved. Your site either passes the test or fails.

They have also suggested that the algorithm will have a significantly bigger impact than the Panda update, which impacted around 12 percent of all queries. Some speculate that as much as 40 percent of searches on mobile devices will be affected and that over time, desktop searches will be too.

Non-mobile friendly websites won’t be penalised as such, but instead, those that are mobile-friendly will be given a ranking boost. How much? That we don’t know yet, but given the amount of online hype from digital-boffins across the globe, you can bet it’s going to be significant.

Responsive web design has long been recommended by Google as best practice, however, this is a significant move to reward responsive sites. And they have other benefits too. They tend to have better usability, faster load times, and improved resilience – all of which will also improve user experience and search engine performance. We’ve also found that responsive sites have lower ongoing maintenance costs, meaning it's easier to update them more often.

Having a responsive website is no longer a luxury, it’s just about to become a necessity.