What does the Google mobile algorithm mean for my business?

In 2011 Google introduced the Panda algorithm  to deal  with on-page content issues, rewarding sites that possessed unique copy and  added value to visitors.

But this  wasn’t a perfect solution to definitively refine search results –  some sites were still manipulating ranking pages via spammy “black hat” methods of linkbuilding. The next year  saw  Google roll out the Penguin update, penalising these sites by decreasing rankings.

If your organic visibility wasn’t hit by these two updates, there’s a good chance that some of your competitors were.

In the SEO industry, these updates were game changing. “White hat” agencies, championing natural growth through quality content and on-page best practice, saw their clients prosper. Companies employing cheap, manipulative, quick-win tactics had some very difficult discussions about organic traffic disappearing overnight.

On April 21, Google will be rolling out their new mobile algorithm. It’s expected to have a greater impact than both Panda and Penguin  and is  based on one simple question: is your site mobile friendly?

If it is, you’ve nothing to worry about – and you should see some ranking increases in mobile results pages. But if your site provides a poor experience to users, expect to see a drop in organic mobile traffic.

Is my site mobile friendly?

The mobile update is scheduled for release on April 21, with the full roll-out expected to be complete within the week.

If you aren’t sure how Google currently views your site, then simply type your URL into the new mobile-friendly test tool.

“Awesome! This page is mobile friendly.”

If you receive this notification, get ready to reap the rewards in the revised mobile search results pages.

Eagle-eyed browsers will have already noticed the mobile-friendly notifications with which Google has been experimenting. Any sites without this symbol are due to see a rankings decrease from April 21.

If you’ve been neglecting your mobile audience so far, expect to lose it if you don’t embrace  multi-screen. Responsive websites  are a popular solution, providing a quality experience to all site visitors no matter what device they browse on.

We’ve  been focused on the multi-screen experience since 2009 and, after April, ignoring mobile  –  no matter your business  –  is simply no longer an option.

When the average smartphone user picks up their phone 221 times a day, it’s no wonder Google has decided to enhance the mobile browsing experience.

There’ll be those who still don’t consider mobile to be a significant part of their business model; after all, if a site wasn’t mobile friendly it was unlikely to be highly converting, so a loss of mobile traffic shouldn’t be catastrophic, should it?

But this ignores cross-device interaction  –  something which is much harder to track, but is second nature to many.

How often have you looked at a website on your phone, decided that the checkout process was too difficult on mobile and then used a desktop or tablet to finish the transaction later that evening? This could be tracked as a direct conversion, when actually it began organically on mobile.

Businesses failing the mobile usability tests could be in for a rude awakening when they discover just how valuable mobile traffic truly is.

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