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Google's Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Changes

Google's Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Changes

In February, Google announced that it was going to make some pretty serious changes to their Algorithm which would greatly affect some searches.  These changes will take effect on April 21, 2015.  The force of these changes are to the benefit of sites that are mobile friendly.  I thought it would be wise to take a look at what the announcement itself and then answer some made up questions about it.

The Announcement

More mobile-friendly websites in search results

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. 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 Terminology

Everybody got that?  Good.  Before I take some made up questions, let's define a few terms.

Algorithm: (Search Engines) a set of standards for assigning value to website in relation to a search query
This is how a search engine figures out how relevant your website is to what search.

Ranking Signal: anything that serves to indicate certain information to a search engine
These are the actual factors at which search engines look.

Mobile-Friendliness: how well the code of your website is read by and displayed on mobile devices such as phones and tablets
This is a little more than merely how well your site looks on a phone.  It has much more to do with the actual code (how your site was built).  If your site uses the same code for mobile that it does for desktop, it is not considered to be mobile-friendly (by this definition) even if you think it looks just fine the way it is.

Mobile Searches: a search query from a mobile device
These are searches that one makes from a phone or tablet.  The results will be different from a desktop.

Significant Impact: a meaningful influence
In other words, you'd better get ready.

Q and A

So, what does it all mean?
It means that starting April 21, searches that occur on mobile devices such as phones and tablets will be far less likely to find websites that do not have mobile-friendly code such as Mobile CSS or Responsive Layouts.

Will this affect my website?
Yes.  If you have a mobile-friendly site, it will positively affect your site.  If you do not have a mobile-friendly site, it will negatively affect your website.

Ok, how will it affect my website?
If a potential client performs a relevant search for your industry or business from a mobile device, those who do not have mobile-friendly sites will be less likely to rank well in the search results.  In other words, if your potential client searches from her phone while out and about or tablet while relaxing at home, a non-mobile-friendly site will not do as well (whether it's yours or your competitor's).

So, what do I do about it?
If you do not have a mobile-friendly site, it's really time to make the change.  It would be my suggestion to not merely get a site with mobile specific css but to get a site that is actually responsive.  The fact is that almost none of your potential clients will search for or look at sites exclusively from one type of device.  Your website should accommodate all of their devices.