If you’ve browsed a tech site recently (and chances are you have if you’re reading this article), you’ve likely heard of Mobilegeddon. No, Skynet isn’t launching, and as far as we know, there’s not an asteroid-sized smartphone on a collision course for earth. Google has merely changed their algorithm to prioritize mobile-friendly search results when searching from a phone. While the recent announcement caused a stir of frenzy and fear, the daunting term is akin to the late 90’s Y2k paranoia. There’s really no need to panic.
Mobile devices are nothing new, but the Internet landscape has shifted, and continues to, after their advent and widespread adoption. Many websites now have mobile-friendly versions, whether responsive or dedicated mobile. However, not all sites have updated to include mobile iterations. The April 21, 2015 alteration to Google’s algorithm affords a higher page rank to mobile-friendly sites, meaning non-mobile websites are downranked. Before you chuck your computer, phone, or tablet across the room, keep reading.
Yes, there’s downranking but only from phones. Computers, and even tablets, aren’t affected. Many users actually prefer navigating desktop sites on their tablets, since it’s a browsing experience similar to desktops and laptops. Desktop page ranks are completely unharmed, only mobile page ranks. Most websites won’t even notice a difference, since they already have some mobile-friendly version in place.
Talk and paranoid ramblings about Mobilegeddon have largely been vague, and Google hasn’t really released the algorithm. Google did, however, make available a test to check for mobile-friendliness. For some perspective, Merkle released a report that found 29% of Internet Retailer Top 500, and 46% of Fortune 500 companies, could fall in their Google page ranks because of this algorithm tweak. Consider though, that sites are analyzed on a page-by-page basis, so a website doesn’t require complete mobile-friendly behavior.
With increased numbers of users searching from phones, Google aims to deliver results that function properly on mobile devices. Luckily, desktop page ranks remain untouched, and websites aren’t even judged as a whole, simply by individual pages. Overall, it’s a fairly lenient update. While not insignificant, this isn’t the end of days that many are purporting has arrived. Could Google’s update disrupt mobile web searches for certain websites? Certainly. Should you freak out? Probably not, but if you’ve been debating adopting a mobile site, now is the perfect time. Smartphone users will undoubtedly appreciate easier to read content being prioritized, and this could serve as incentive for businesses with non-mobile sites to update. Will Bruce Willis still have to save us? Possibly.