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Googlegeddon is HERE. Are you ready?

On April 21, Google rolled out a new indexing algorithm that affects the way websites are ranked in mobile search. Word on the street is that these changes are not affecting desktop searches YET – but my feeling is that will come in time – probably within the next year – because internet activity is moving so rapidly onto mobile. Some sites will lose ranking as a result of these changes while others will exploit the opportunity to be the first in their competitive environment to make the needed changes – beating everyone to the punch and improving ranking as a result.

Google has a tool to test your website for mobile-friendliness. The Mobile-Friendly test results are binary, meaning that your page is either Mobile-Friendly or it is not. There is no 50% or 70% Mobile-Friendly result possible—no middle ground. The most common reasons I see for failing the Mobile Friendly test are:

  • No viewport tag
  • Fonts are too small
  • Design is not responsive
  • Page loads slowly or is not using compression.

Test your site one page at a time here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ or do a “site:” query for the domain in question on your phone. That will allow you to see all the pages indexed to the domain, and evaluate which ones are considered Mobile-Friendly and which are not, without having to submit them to the tool one at a time.

Google has expanded the types of information that they scrape and pull from a site directly into an answer box, especially in mobile. They have also increased and diversified the number of aggregator-style “Sponsored” results that show up in mobile—especially on Android. The top mobile search result for most flight, hotel, music, and TV show queries are now specially designed, sponsored, aggregated results that push the old organic results below the fold. Whenever you see a little grey ‘i’ in the upper right hand corner of a mobile search result – especially a specially formatted list of results that Google has aggregated for you, that means that Google is probably getting a small portion of any related transaction, even if it is just the website paying for the click. Simple blue-link search results may soon be a thing of the past—especially above the fold. There are obviously a lot of goals in the mix here, but SEO experts believe that Google is making these changes primarily to provide a better mobile experience for searchers, and give people exactly what they want. That said though, they are also in it to make money.

The gist is that you are now competing with your competitors AND with Google. You want your website to be informative enough that content gets pulled into the ‘answer box’ where relevant and to make sure you are on the first page of results. Beyond the purely technical issues of responsive design and page speed, there are bigger questions about the quality of your content that you should be addressing as part of a mobile-friendly overhaul.

Here is an article with a lot of somewhat-technical information about the changes: https://moz.com/blog/9-things-about-googles-mobile-friendly-update

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