The sky is (not) falling from Mobilegeddon7/8/2015
If you happen to be a website administrator, the last few months have probably driven you to drink. You’ve spent years building up recognition as a source of quality content or a website with a specific utility, and then the winds of web change blew, and everything you’ve worked so hard for evaporated. This common narrative is popping up in offices across the country following a major search update by Google, an update that has quaintly been dubbed “mobilegeddon.”
For more than a decade, the No. 1 web search engine has been Google. Every day Google runs billions of web searches, scouring the Internet for every kind of information imaginable. The exact algorithmic wizardry Google employs to perform its web searches is the tech equivalent of Coca Cola’s secret formula. But, unlike Coke, Google has been modifying its secret sauce over the years. The reason for these modifications is simple: While people can’t decode the Google search algorithm, they can learn its tendencies.
Every website — from startup businesses to nonprofit organizations to run-of-the-mill blogs — craves a high Google page rank. Being ranked near the top of Google search results means higher traffic, which means greater revenue and ultimately becoming a go-to authoritative site. But reaching the top of a given Google search is a tight-wire act of search engine optimization with criteria that has historically included keywords, metadata descriptions, fast-loading design, quality content, inbound links, high traffic, authoritative author, and the list goes on forever.
Well, as it turns out, all those Google search ranking factors can now officially be backburnered, because mobile-readiness is now the prize pupil. For the unversed, mobile-readiness is the web design principal of building two, three and sometimes four different configurations of a website’s content in order to display faster and fit different screen sizes. Why is Google putting a premium on mobile-ready sites? Because 60 pecent of the world’s Internet traffic is on mobile devices. And if 60 percent of Google users are using its search tool on their mobile device, chances are they are looking for websites that will display properly on that device.
So April 21, Google’s mobilegeddon was released onto the world, but the carnage has been minimal to say the least. Yes, there are some signs that mobile prioritization has impacted some sites negatively, but overall the worldwide web was ready and waiting for this transition. The truth is, Google makes hundreds of changes to its Google search algorithm each year. Sure, the shift to focusing on mobile seems momentous because the web was initially built around desktop viewing, but mobilegeddon was about evolution, not revolution.
Still, credence should be given to those feeling the pinch of this switch. Why should a well-trafficked site built on old-school design be punished for falling behind the times? Because sites that take long to load and don’t properly fit a mobile device’s screen don’t just frustrate users with the site itself, it could also lead them to reconsider Google for future searches.
The big sites don’t end up getting hurt in these situations nearly as much the little ones. Maybe you run a small site on needlepoint and recently saw your traffic numbers drop. Before you start writing off Google as pure evil, you might consider looking at this as a gift from the tech giant. Never mind the business benefits of going mobile, Google’s search retcon actually comes with a transition guide. To make the switch, simply search “Google mobile guide,” and the top result will shepherd you through the transition process. Good luck in this post-mobilegeddon world. CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.