Will Google's mobile-friendly update affect your website?

On April 21, Google finally launched the mobile-friendly algorithm update it has been warning about for the past two months. Although there will inevitably be websites that lose a significant amount of traffic, this update is not intended to punish any single site. Instead, the primary motivation is Google’s desire to improve user experience for all mobile users.

Google feels mobile users’ pain when they click on a Google search result and are unable to interact with the website. To counteract this negative experience, Google is simply removing these results from mobile search in favour of websites that give users a better experience.

While this update has been named “Mobilegeddon” in the press, it’s still very unlikely to be a true Armageddon for any website. However, if you have been negatively impacted by the algorithm update – or are worried you might be – here are a few things you should know:

  1. 1. Google is the ultimate arbiter of mobile-friendliness, and is very clear about what is required in order to be considered mobile friendly. To see if your site or pages are up to snuff, Google has an easy testing tool that will tell you exactly what the issues are with any non-mobile friendly page (which we have provided below).
  2. 2. This algorithm update only impacts results shown to users on mobile phones. Results for users on tablets and desktops are not impacted, and therefore your level of concern over any negative changes you experience should reflect how much mobile phone traffic you typically see from Google. If your site only has a fraction of mobile phone users referred by Google search, it may not be worth the investment required to make changes on your website.
  3. 3. The mobile-friendly update is run on a page-by-page basis, so even if you are not able to make your entire site mobile friendly, any page that you do make mobile friendly will still benefit.
  4. 4. The algorithm is a real-time dynamic update, which means that if you missed the cutoff date of April 21, you can still recover any lost traffic whenever your site or pages do become mobile friendly.

Regardless of whether you are impacted by the update, it is still always a good idea to improve user experience by making your website more mobile friendly. Finally, even if your non-mobile-friendly website has not seen its traffic plummet over the past month, that doesn’t mean that it won’t still drop later. Google has said this algorithm update will take many weeks to roll out – so it will be a while before we see how things shake out.

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