April 2015: Be Aware of Google Penalty Update

If you have a website that receives traffic from mobile devices (which is nearly every website in the world today), you should be aware of the changes Google is rolling out to their Organic search algorithm on April 21st, 2015. This is going to be a significant change – marketers are calling it ‘Mobilegeddon’.

After that date, when Google crawls the pages on your site it will now detect if the pages are “mobile friendly” or not. If the pages on your site are not mobile-friendly, Google will display your Organic search results lower than pages of  websites that are mobile-friendly.

Google uses multiple criteria to determine if your pages meet their standards. Among them:

– Does the content on the page reformat for mobile devices?
– Does the content fit in the frame on a mobile device?
– Are your links easy to access on a mobile device?
– Is the font size readable on a mobile device?

There are many more factors that Google doesn’t sharing publicly, around 200 total in the algorithm.

Why Are They Doing This?!

Google is trying to ensure an optimized user experience for users searching on on mobile devices, which is understandable. It’s frustrating for any of us to search and get directed to a page or site that is impossible to navigate on our mobile devices, especially when you’re interested in purchasing a product or need information quickly.

How Bad Is This Really?

Typically, websites receive approximately 20%-25% of their traffic from mobile Organic keywords, so this change could have drastic negative effects on traffic volume. If  results drop off of the first page of on Organic result pages, the site is likely to lose nearly all of their mobile Organic traffic. Results that are unrelated to the name of your company are particularly at risk. If you depend on non-branded keywords from mobile traffic, and your site is not mobile-friendly, it’s really, really bad.

It’s also important to note that this change only affects Mobile search results – there will be no change to the Desktop search result algorithm.

What Should I Do?

If you’re unsure if your site is mobile-friendly, Google has created a great tool that allows you to easily check:

Google Mobile Friendly Test Tool

If your site is mobile-friendly, great! Next step, check your competitors sites. If they aren’t, it’s a good opportunity for you to gain mobile market share, as long as your site is well optimized from an SEO perspective. If you have questions about the quality of your sites SEO implementation, let us know and we can evaluate for you.

If your site is not mobile-friendly, we can help as well.

Option 1: Rebuild Your Site Mobile Responsive Website (Quickly)

Mobile responsive websites allow the content presented to reformat to whatever device the visitor is using, and meet all of Google’s criteria for being mobile-friendly. The cost, difficulty, and time to develop a responsive site varies greatly based on the platform on which your site is built. For some of our clients, this has been a fairly simple transition to a new or updated website theme. For others, it requires a new Content Management System, and/or a ground up rebuild.

Option 2: Use A Third-Party Tool To Create A Mobile Responsive Version Of Your Site

There are a few third-party tools on the market that will create a mobile version of your website. Our experience is that these tools vary greatly in ease of use, time to develop, and ease to manage in the future. Again, the viability, cost, difficulty, and time to develop vary greatly based on the platform on which your site is built. This option is typically a decent band-aid until your can fully redevelop the site to be mobile responsive.

Option 3: Do Nothing

This is an option, but you will lose valuable mobile traffic very quickly, and as your competitors work to become mobile-friendly, you’ll lose even more traffic. You could consider spending more on Paid Search, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to replace the quality and quantity of traffic you’ve lost without a significant increase in spend, time, and effort.

Can Aidan Taylor Help?

We can! If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, we can develop a new responsive site for you. We’ve build 50+ in the last year alone, and we’ll ensure the site is well optimized to deliver the best Organic search results possible, on all platforms. If redevelopment isn’t something you can do now, we can facilitate the use of a third-party tool to create a mobile version of your existing site.

If your site is mobile-friendly, we can help you to capitalize on the opportunity by creating high-quality, well optimized content, and stealing market share from your non-mobile-friendly competitors.

If you’re interested in discussing further, please reach out to us and we’ll get in touch ASAP. As of this post, there are 24 days until ‘Mobilegeddon’!

Further Reading/Helpful Resources:

Google Mobile Friendly Test Tool

Google Webmaster Guide To Developing A Mobile Friendly Site

If you need help implementing the concepts discussed within this blog post – as always you can reach out to us at marketing@aidantaylor.com. The SEO keyword for this post is: Google Penalty.
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Creative Commons License
April 2015: Make Note of New Google Penalty Update by John-Scott Dixon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.