Responsive web design--
What's worse than Armageddon? Well, If you've listened to some marketers recently, the answer may just be "Mobilegeddon." That's the nickname the industry has given to Google's newest algorithm update, one that has the potential to be more wide-reaching than any of the search engine's algorithms since the introduction of PageRank.
To say it came out of nowhere would be an exaggeration. For months, Google has emphasized the importance of a mobile-friendly website, and for good reason. The search engine's stated goal is to show the most relevant and accessible content to its users. And because the majority of internet users now browse on a mobile device, it only made sense for Google to emphasize mobile-friendliness - for the same reason that ALT text became so important a few years ago, when not all browsers could display images.
Still, the news came as a shock. On February 26, Google announced that beginning on April 21, a new algorithm update would begin to penalize websites that weren't optimized for mobile devices in its search results. As the blog post put it,
This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices
The message is clear: If your website isn't optimized for mobile devices, then beginning on April 21, you will have a serious SEO problem. The only problem with the announcement was that Google didn't specify just how your website should be optimized. So allow us to help.
1) Responsive Web Design is a Must
Google did not explicitly mention responsive web design as the perfect way to make your site compliant with its new algorithm, but that's because they didn't have to. For a few months now, Google has been pounding the responsive design drum, rightfully emphasizing that a responsive website is the best and only way to make sure your site functions properly on all mobile devices. If your website is not responsive, you should probably make the update as soon as possible to be sure your SEO doesn't suffer.
2) Complying with Google Beyond Responsive Design
Of course, it doesn't stop there. While responsive design is essential for success, it is not a cure-all for your website and SEO needs. Accessibility matters beyond the basics; currently, the rumor is spreading among marketers that Mobilegeddon will include a way for Google to determine just how well and intuitively your navigation functions, meaning you should ensure that there are no hiccups or dead links within your navigation.
Chances are, Google's update will also heavily draw on its mobile guide to determine what sites are optimized for mobile devices. You can find these guidelines on Google's website, and the checklist includes a free mobile-friendly test as well as several tutorials to ensure you comply with Google before April 21. Which brings us to the final point:
3) Prepare for Mobilegeddon
In preparing for any of Google's algorithm updates, from Panda to Penguin and now Mobilegeddon, being proactive is key. The internet is littered with stories of businesses who failed to see what was coming, only to suffer severely in search results and sometimes never recover. On the other hand, knowing what to expect can be the key to ensure that once April 21 rolls around, your website won't be blindsided (and downgraded).
Reading through Google's Mobile Guide and checking your website for mobile optimization with the search engine's free tool is a great start. Another is to contact us. We specialize in responsive design, and would be happy to help you ensure that your website is ready for Mobilegeddon.