The rumors you've heard about Google's mobile search overhaul are absolutely true. Today Google rolled out a new algorithm for mobile-enabled search that delivers sites that are better optimized for mobile devices higher in the Google results when people search from their phones.
How has Google redefined optimized?
There is a new definition online for mobile-optimized sites and Google has created a pass/fail system that leaves NO gray area for web designers. Although conflicting reports are all over the internet, Google announced that the algorithm impacts searches from smartphones only and does not impact tablet or desktop searches. If your site is mobile functional and scalable for use on a mobile device, it doesn't necessarily pass the new Google "mobile-friendly" test.
Google released a "mobile-friendly test" that gives website owners a chance to evaluate how their website appears on a mobile phone. While users have grown accustomed to zooming and scaling web content, Google's test fails those sites that that don't wrap and scale to each individual device. If the site doesn't auto direct to a separate mobile database, sites can fail if users have to zoom to read text or if links aren't considered far enough apart to be "easily tapped."
How will content affect mobile optimization?
Pre-rollout optimization definitions taught us that content was king. Search engines valued sites equipped with meaningful content designed to answer visitor questions and with applicable links to additional, related, qualified information. Rather than advising clients to expend the costs and time commitment required to maintain separate mobile and desktop sites, Point A Media has focused on enhancing keywords and content. This still matters for desktop and tablet searches and Google announced that it remains focused on delivering the most relevant results, which means sites not necessarily labeled "mobile-friendly" may still show up in search results.
“While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results,” a Google spokesperson wrote in an email to Re/code. “The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal — so if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query.”
Google is putting mobile users first because mobile users are ranking first in internet usage. Businesses that depend on the internet must comply with “mobile-friendly” standards if they don't want to risk losing primary SERP (Search Engine Ranking Page) positions.
"Marketers with sites that fail to render an easy-to-navigate experience on mobile may lose their top placement in Google’s search results. The implication could be a large amount of traffic loss as some sites show roughly 50 percent or greater skew towards mobile traffic. " -Mobile Marketer 4/10/15
The change in Google's algorithm is happening in real time, so websites can upgrade to "mobile-friendly" at any time to and reap the benefits of ranking higher in Google's mobile search results.
Point A Media has benchmarked more than 40 local sites and we are watching trends to see how the new search parameters affect traffic.
What does this mean for your site?
If you want to hold on to your site rankings in Google's mobile search results, you need to redesign your site specifically for smartphone users.
How can Point A Media help?
NOBODY knows the impact this is going to have just yet, but we are keeping an eye on it and we are prepared to help you adapt to the new algorithm. Point A Media designs beautiful, non-template sites with the user in mind. We understand the coding shift and we are ready to help you maximize your optimization by programming an individual "mobile-friendly" database site or reprogramming your web structure with a responsive design that aligns with the new Google search parameters.