Leila Badyari

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‘Mobilegeddon’ – Google algorithm update

on April 24, 2015

Google algorithmThe latest Google algorithm update went live on 21st April 2015. This update puts the focus on mobile phones and alters how Google will rank websites in mobile searches. The ranking system is now based on mobile-friendly criteria. It has been termed “Mobilegeddon” by the internet community because of its projected impact on businesses and websites. As the nick-name suggests, the event is causing tension in the SEO industry, since many feel their businesses will suffer as a result of the changes in ranking. Moreover, Google has clearly stated that it expects the update will “have a significant impact in (our) search results.”

What is the Google algorithm update?

Google has a history of updating algorithms in order to optimize website viewing and ranking. The new Google algorithm update will favour sites that work well on mobile devices. This means that businesses which are not mobile-friendly will suffer. Also, sites with good mobile experiences will be ranked higher than those with no mobile or poor mobile sites.

This update is likely to penalize many websites and has been construed as discriminatory by several companies. Nevertheless, Google has been quick to point out that the algorithm update is not meant to discriminate. Instead, the intent is to demote sites that are not deemed mobile-friendly in Google’s mobile-search results.

“As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns,” Google wrote in a blog post in February. However, Gary Illyes from Google cautioned people that the roll out might take weeks and would not witness an immediate impact. In addition, Google estimates that around 50% of searches are conducted from mobile devices, through mobile browsers, hence the new algorithm update is aimed at improving the user’s experience.

Mobile-friendly tests and toolsmobile devices

“Have you ever tapped on a Google Search result on your mobile phone, only to find yourself looking at a page where the text was too small, the links were tiny, and you had to scroll sideways to see all the content? This usually happens when the website has not been optimized to be viewed on a mobile phone.” This post appeared on the Google Blog in November 2014. It was a prelude to an article that highlighted the concept of mobile-friendly web pages. Google provided a list of “Dos & Don’ts” to make the web more user-friendly. The list included a link to the Mobile friendly Test which analyses a URL and reports if the page has a mobile-friendly design.


mobile friendly test


Enter your website’s URL into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and it will inform you whether you have a mobile-friendly page on your hands. If the URL you entered passes the test, a green banner flashes to indicate the website is mobile-friendly.


Mobile friendliness


If the website does not pass the test, Google will let you know the page is not mobile-friendly and provide a list of reasons. Furthermore, Google recommended the use of the Mobile usability report in Google webmaster Tools, which highlights major mobile usability issues across your entire site, not just one page.

An effective mobile website design

Google has made it clear that mobile friendliness will have a significant impact on search results. Their justification is that since many people increasingly use their mobile devices for internet search, they want to ensure that consumers find only relevant content which has easy readability. The criteria includes

  • The amount of space between links
  • Text size
  • Whether content fits across a mobile screen

In addition, it’s important that your website has a simple design so that users can easily find what they are looking for. Make sure that you highlight your most important information on the homepage. Essentially the goal is to make the website engaging while retaining maximum functionality.


Examples of Great Mobile Websites


Adidas has done an impressive job of extending their home page to include detailed options that might interest users. Their mobile website mimics the desktop website while retaining optimum design elements.


Adidas mobile website



The Zomato mobile website is elaborate and has successfully incorporated all of the elements of the desktop website.


Zomato mobile website


Google Maps

Google maps is striking in terms of interactivity and use of technology. It integrates various important facets into the mobile website creating a user-friendly experience.


Google maps mobile website




It’s important to remember that the ‘Mobilegeddon’ will not affect results on searches from desktops or tablets. Furthermore, not every website will be affected by this update. Some goods and services are better suited than others to be searched, reviewed and potentially purchased through a smartphone. Many commodity items and services (unlike high value purchases) tend to fall into that category, hence users will benefit from a website optimized to cater to mobile devices. However a large number of companies are moving to so-called “responsive” design, wherein a site scales dynamically based on the size of the browser window or device’s screen. This provides an optimum view for various screen sizes.

In addition, unlike previous Google algorithm updates, the new changes are not aimed at downgrading or elevating entire sites. In effect, any individual pages that are easily visible on a smartphone will rank the same as before. Also, they will not be affected by other pages on the site that are not optimum for mobile viewing. Furthermore, keep in mind, mobile-friendliness is not the sole factor in determining search result ranking. Especially in the case of large sites that are relevant for a particular search term in other ways, the new algorithm change may not have a significant impact in spite of ‘unfriendly’ mobile sites.

Be that as it may, many leading analysts propose that within a few years, mobile devices will overtake desktop computers as the most common medium to access the web. Thus, it is beneficial for owners to make good use of the unique opportunity provided by mobile phones for connecting with the target audience. Optimizing your mobile website is a part of this opportunity and is necessary if you want to progress with the ever-changing technology! What do you think? Have you encountered any changes in your website ranking as a result of this update? If you have any questions or concerns regarding the new algorithm update the Google blog includes a plethora of useful information.

Posted in: All Articles, Google Algorithm, Google+, Web development

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