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Google Mobile-Friendly Update Gives You 2 Options: Optimize For Mobile Or Lose Traffic

Are all of the pages on your website mobile-friendly?

If you’re answering this question with “kind of,” “sorta” or “somewhat,” then you’ll be on the losing end when it comes to search results, according to the world’s largest search engine.

Google Mobile-Friendly Update Gives You 2 Options: Optimize For Mobile Or Lose Traffic

According to Google, starting April 21, your site is either optimized for mobile or it’s not. There’s no in-between.

And the penalty you can expect for not being mobile-friendly is dire: reduced search engine rankings on mobile devices, which means less traffic to your site. Plain and simple.

For years, Google has been incentivizing webmasters to make their websites easily navigated and viewed with smartphones, iPads, and other mobile devices. They’ve sent very clear signals about the direction they’re heading with mobile search. Not only have they developed the tools to detect mobile usability errors, but they’ve also published videos, blog posts, and other content discussing their endeavor to change the mobile search landscape.

Now, the tech giant is rolling out its new algorithm, and with it, there will finally be the little-to-no reason for companies to neglect to have a mobile-friendly website any longer.

As mobile devices are growing into being the resource most used to carry out a Google search, it only makes sense that your company has made the necessary moves to be optimized for mobile.

So, how does this impact you and your business? And what is Google really looking for in a mobile-friendly site? Here’s what you need to know to keep your business up to date and ready for visitors to have the optimum mobile experience.

What Does the Google Mobile-Friendly Update Mean for Businesses?

On Tuesday, Google will roll out this new algorithm update targeting non-optimized websites. If your website is not mobile optimized, you can expect rankings, and therefore your web traffic, to go down. Many are calling this the biggest, most significant, most impactful update that Google has ever made to its search engine results. So, it figures to have massive implications for all businesses’ online presence.

From Google’s blog post announcing the Google mobile-friendly update:

“Starting April 21st, 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.”

If you want your website to rank well, especially on a smartphone, your site needs to be optimized for mobile. Choosing not to will have serious consequences on both web traffic and search rankings. It is estimated that businesses could see a 1/4-drop in their traffic after April 21st as a result of not meeting the search engine’s standards.

The tech company has stressed repeatedly in press conferences since announcing this big change that are no different degrees of mobile-friendliness. There’s no middle ground, no grey area. And not embracing the mobile site update will hurt your search engine results.

That’s kind of a big deal. If we’ve learned anything about today’s marketing landscape, it’s that an organization’s digital presence is the key ingredient to increasing leads and conversions, meeting business goals, and improving the bottom line. Losing out on an opportunity for better search engine rankings would be a cataclysmic misfire for businesses.

So it’s imperative that mobile optimization be done to each of your website’s pages. But what exactly is Google looking for? And what do you need to do in order to meet their standards? Let’s dive a little deeper into how the new algorithm will behave.

What is GoogleBot Really Looking For?

If you’re familiar with Google’s ranking criteria, you know that the company is quite particular about how its formulas and analytics determine where pages wind up on their results.

Most websites that have more pages and quality content than their competition, get higher rankings. Why is it that way? Because Google’s crawlers, bots, and algorithm designers analyze individual pages, not just websites as a whole.

With the Google mobile-friendly update, the search engine will look at your site on a per-page basis. An entire site won’t be affected, just single pages. Although we can presume if one page is not optimized, none of them are.

As noted earlier, Google has stated that either a page is mobile-optimized or it isn’t. There is no such thing as a “somewhat optimized” page.

Here are the guidelines for what makes up an optimized page:

Text Readability

Google will be looking at your text size and how the copy fits onto the screen. If it’s too small to read and process quickly, you’ll lose.


If the entire body of your page doesn’t fit within the confines of the mobile screen, it will fail Google’s test. The user shouldn’t have to scroll left and right and be forced to zoom in and out.

Link Click-Ability

The human finger isn’t built for tapping small links, and if you have a bunch of links close by, navigation just won’t go well. Clear, large buttons and links are essential for meeting Google’s algorithm standards.

Don’t Use Flash

If your site relies on the Flash player or other dated technology like the VCR or the Sony Walkman, it won’t work on a smartphone. That’s a big thumbs down from Google.

So, Does Your Site Pass the Mobile-Friendly Test?

You might be reading this wondering, “is my site mobile-ready?” If that’s the case, Google has made it easy for you. You can hop on over to the “Mobile-Friendly Test” which Google has provided and see for yourself.

This tool takes 30 seconds, doesn’t require any work on your part, and can quickly and intelligently tell you whether or not your site is mobile-ready. Simply enter the URL for the page you want to test.

So we did a little experiment. We ran our website through Google’s test. Here’s how it looked after it ran the 30-second analysis:

Runner's mobile test pic

So we passed! Good news for us. I mean, we better have passed. We’re a digital marketing agency. Looking at the little preview of our mobile site, you can see that all of the information flows down the page in nice, readable font with no need to scroll around or zoom.

Now let’s test a popular brand website. There’s an important takeaway here. This is what happens when a page doesn’t pass the test for mobile-friendliness. Now, I’m feeling in the mood for ice cream today, so let’s go take a look at a very popular Ice Cream chain’s site:

baskinrobbins mobile friendly test

31 flavors of ice cream can’t save Baskin Robbins on this test. As you can see by Google’s report, their text is too small to read on a smartphone screen, the links are too close together to be able to click, there’s no mobile-friendly view and the content goes beyond the edge of the screen, forcing users to have to scroll left and right and zoom in and out; what a pain!

It’s important for businesses to avoid these pitfalls. For one, by not optimizing for mobile, they’re affecting their search rankings in a negative way. But two, they’re also giving mobile visitors of their site a poor user experience, and that’s never a good thing for business.

The Final Word

This is all a part of Google’s desire to reward those websites for meeting their guidelines. They’re doing this because Google recognizes the trends in human online behavior. That’s an important thing to take away here.

According to a popular SEO website, SearchEngine Watch, 60 percent of time online is spent on mobile. And that number is going up.

“Shifting audience behavior is dictating a refocusing of search strategy,” SearchEngine Watch says. “2015 should be considered ‘the year of the consumer,’ and as it stands, the modern consumer demands a mobile-first strategy.”

So get your site ready. As the world becomes more reliant on mobile devices, companies should be prepared to point potential customers in the right direction and climb up the results page as an outcome.

Want help making your site mobile-friendly and optimized for web search? RUNNER offers leading services for web development and search engine optimization. Not happy with your rankings on mobile OR a computer? We’d love to chat about an opportunity for inbound marketing with you…

CONTACT US today for a free consultation.

Reagan Judd

Reagan Judd

Co-founder & CEO

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