The end of search as we know it?
Well, not quite, unless you haven’t adapted your website to shift with the ever-growing mobile consumption rate. Beginning on April 21, 2015, Google will begin including mobile friendliness as a ranking signal within its search algorithm. Word on the street is that this new ranking algorithm will have more impact on Google’s search results than the previous Panda and Penguin updates ever had. Pages that are not mobile-friendly may experience a loss in rankings and subsequent traffic. Alternatively, websites that are created for mobile, via WAP, or adaptive or responsive designs will potentially benefit from the update based on their priority in Google’s results and the updated sort order of their competitors.
Is this a surprise?
Not at all. Not only has mobile search been on the incline since 2007, it’s also forecasted to surpass desktop search this year in both volume and ad spend this year. Google has also reported that more than 50 percent of searches are done on mobile devices, thus they want to create the best user experience for searchers. Search marketers have forecasted this change for a while, since Google announced that the “mobile-friendly” label and weighting had been integrated into mobile search last November.
Essentially, you need to think like your consumer because what is good for the searcher is often good for improving SEO. This update will impact Google’s mobile searches, specific to smartphones and will now be separate from Google’s desktop searches. You will not see a sitewide ranking improvement or drop, as rankings will be applied on a page-by-page basis. This provides the opportunity for you to provide a mobile alternative for users without having to redesign your entire website to be mobile friendly. The update will actually take several days to a week before it completely takes affect. This is a great time to adapt your website accordingly, while also gaining an advantage over competitors that may not have mobile-friendly versions of sites. You may also potentially lower your mobile SEM costs since your overall quality score and ranking will naturally exceed others that have not prepared for this change. In summary, be mobile forward; consumers continue to be a driving force of its growth and the customer is always right.