There is nothing like the threat of a change in the Google algorithm to create a firestorm in small business press and spread fear in the hearts of small business owners across the globe! The change (with press adopted moniker of "Mobilegeddon") taking place right now is no different. If you listen to Business Insider "millions of small business" will be crushed. If you take a look at the Washington Post, they are using the term "apocalypse." So, what is going on? Is this that big of a deal? Let's unpack this.
What is Mobilegeddon?
Simply put Google is changing its algorithm so that on searches made on mobile devices, "mobile friendly" sites will be elevated over sites that are not mobile friendly. So, a user who is performing a Google search from her phone or tablet will be shown search results for websites that are designed to fit her smaller device. According to Google a mobile-friendly site boils down to the following:
- Avoids software that doesn't render well on common mobile devices. (Think Flash)
- Uses text that is readable without zooming.
- Sizes content to the screen properly without having to scroll horizontally. (Vertically is fine.)
- Places links far enough apart so that the correct link can be easily tapped.
Is my site impacted? If so, how bad will this problem be?
The easiest way to check if your site is impacted is to take the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. Just enter your website's domain address in the bar, click "Analyze" and Google will either tell your site is "awesome" and meets their criteria for mobile friendliness. Yay! You can do a happy dance and move on with your day feeling a bit superior to those poor sots this impacts.
But, if you see this image, life isn't as simple...
Question #1: Do you get much traffic currently from Google via organic (or non-paid) search? Take a look at your analytics to see your traffic sources. For many businesses Google search is critical. For other sites, their website is accessed more from links from elsewhere or direct traffic. If Google isn't sending you much traffic, you won't miss the traffic they aren't sending you because of this change.
Question #2: What percentage of your current traffic is mobile? Remember, only searches on mobile devices (phones and tablets) are going to be impacted by this change. Someone performing a Google Search from her home won't have this particular algorithm change applied. One caveat to this question is that as mobile-friendly devices become more ubiquitous, this number will most certainly increase. It just might not be huge for your business right now.
My site isn't mobile-friendly! Ack! What do I do?
First things first, don't panic. As noted above, this may not have a huge impact on your organization in the short term. The last thing you want to do is to fix this issue in haste because getting a mobile-friendly website is not a quick fix. The answer for most organizations will be responsive design. Responsive design simply is a way that a website is coded that renders it to the proper proportions for the size of the web browser. In other words, when a site is pulled up on a phone, a design that is appropriate for a phone is the one that appears. If a site is pulled up on a website, the design is different.
Unfortunately, you can't flip a switch and create a responsive site. A site that doesn't have responsive technology is most likely a site that needs to be rethought, reconfigured, and redesigned. Think of it as an opportunity to step up your web presence in a huge way! So, walk (don't run) to someone that can help you figure out a responsive solution for your site.
Erika Dickstein is a Web Strategist located in the DC metro area. She specializes in working with small businesses on creating strategic goal-oriented websites. You can connect with her at www.springinsight.com.