A lot has been said about Google’s new mobile search algorithm. By now we all know that being mobile-friendly is the best way to keep your ranking in mobile search results, and that a surprising number of businesses have already made the change. But what if you’re not one of them? It turns out that Google can just force your site to comply—by making it load faster.
Well, sort of. This is a feature that Google is just testing, and of course it doesn’t actually make your site any faster as-is. But loading speed is the main factor in what’s considered “mobile friendly,” and images are a major part of page load time. So Google realized it could get pages to load faster on mobile devices by just stripping them of oversize images and special formatting.
Not a Win
Don’t celebrate just yet—Google hasn’t handed out a free pass to mobile friendly status. The problem with the stripped down websites is that they look terrible, and they lose a lot of of the content you put on them. This occurs in several different ways:
- Many images are removed, which makes your site visually less captivating and may render some content unusable.
- Stylistic choices like font styling are removed. All the text goes to one mobile-friendly font.
- Some elements of the page, like subscribe boxes, may be moved to the top, effectively shoving real content below the fold.
- Ads may not show at all!
The strip-down works, allegedly using 80 percent less data from the user’s data plan and loading up to four times faster. But that’s no consolation if it renders your page less attractive or less effective, or if it eliminates ads you’re getting paid to run. And oddly, although Google tells users when it trims a page like this, it doesn’t give them the option to switch to the normal view—so if some key functionality gets left out, your customers are basically just stuck.
What To Do
One key question is, if your website now loads faster because of this, does Google drop the penalty for slow load time in their algorithm? Do you get your old search rank back?
Google has not given an answer, but chances are they still penalize you. Google wants users to get the best search experience possible, and a pared down version of a website is still not the best experience, even if it is fast. There are rarely any freebies from Google.
So what should you do? First of all, if your site still isn’t mobile friendly, check out how your page looks when Google pares it down and consider opting out if it looks wonky. Opt out instructions are at the same link.
And then, most importantly, get your site mobile friendly for real. If you’re not sure how, we can help. Drop us a line and get a free consultation today.