If your site isn’t optimized for mobile users, expect to see a major drop in site traffic starting this April. Google just announced two major changes to how content will rank in mobile searches.
This has been an ongoing quest of Google’s for some time, as mobile makes up an ever increasing percentage of searches. The newly announced algorithm changes go farther than any before them, however. One of them affects all web content and the other is specifically for sites that also have their own app.
Change #1: Mobile Friendly Will Outrank Mobile Unfriendly
This is the most important change as it will affect every site on the net. Under the new algorithm, sites that are deemed “mobile friendly” will get a much bigger leg up in the mobile search results. That means that your competitor can outrank you simply by having a site that’s more suited to mobile devices.
This is in addition to the search engine explicitly labeling sites that are mobile friendly. So some users may pass up your site if it’s missing the label, even if they do spot you in the SERPs.
Fortunately it’s not hard to determine whether your site passes the test. Simply use Google’s site analyzer and see for yourself whether you’re mobile friendly, along with tips on how to fix any potential snags.
This change won’t effect web-based search results, but in mobile searches Google says it will have a “significant impact.” The bottom line? Your site could rank drastically differently in the two kinds of searches.
Change #2: App Content Ranks Higher
The second change is much more targeted, but provides a distinct boost to businesses that have their own apps. For some time now Google has been indexing in-app content, allowing them to show it in mobile search results. Now that content will rank higher in mobile search results, and can be opened in-app when you tap on it.
This only applies to searches by users who have the app installed, of course, which may make it sound like a very niche update. But think about it: businesses that offer an app can now outrank those that don’t.
That doesn’t mean it’s time to run out and create an app, certainly not just for SEO purposes. It will only pay off in terms of SEO if your app can attract a large enough base of users to affect a significant number of searches. That depends a lot on your industry, how big of a company you are and, above all, whether your app really delivers value to your users.
If you already have an app, however, it’s definitely worth it to get it indexed. Send your web design team here for details on how to do that.
Expect an Impact
In the short history of the internet there have been several times when an algorithm update by Google completely shook up search rankings and SEO. Based on the signals Google is sending—including sending warnings to webmasters months ahead of time—this is going to be one of them. It is possible that your business will effectively drop out of the search results on mobile devices when the change kicks in.
This is very different from past shakeups, however. For one thing Google has given plenty of notice; although the in-app content boost is immediate, the mobile-friendly boost doesn’t go live until April 21. For another thing, this is not an adversarial update. Google isn’t trying to take down spammers or penalize businesses. They want to work together with website owners to make this change a positive one, and are making it as easy as possible to comply.
From Google’s perspective, content that’s difficult to view on a mobile device is useless to searchers using those devices. From a business perspective, the change is a chance to get ahead of your competition and dominate a major sector of search results. Considering how cheap it is to make your website mobile friendly, this is an opportunity to pull ahead.
If you need help updating your website and making sure you’re mobile friendly, EverSpark is on your side. Contact us for a free consultation today.
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