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What you should know about Google’s mobile updates

by | Apr 28, 2015 | Uncategorized

In late February, Google announced it planned to introduce changes to its ubiquitous search algorithm on April 21 to “help users discover more mobile-friendly content.”

What this means is that if your website isn’t programmed to display responsively on a mobile device, you won’t receive the Google juice you’re used to getting.

It’s now been a week since the launch, and while the results are still unclear — primarily because Google itself says the update will take weeks to roll out — it’s widely believed the change is a good thing for the Internet at large.

The reason is simple: mobile optimization has become all-important. A report from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) predicted that mobile-broadband usage was set to reach 2.3 billion by the end of that year, meaning more people than ever are relying on mobile devices to access the Internet.

And according to a comScore report from August 2014, 60 per cent of all digital media consumption in the US now occurs on mobile devices.

In 2013, 73 per cent of the global online population accessed the Internet via mobile devices; by 2017, it’s estimated that number will grow to 90 per cent. And Google, in its desire to continuously improve the user experience for all internet users, has changed its algorithm to reflect that.

Christopher Mulcahey, Lead Developer at Insight Design, sees the change as necessary. In light of the statistics, he explains, “building a fluid layout that adapts to various screen sizes is the only option.”

If your website is not already mobile-friendly, now is the time to make it so. But before you do, here are three things to know:

  1. The update only impacts results shown on mobile phones: Even if your site is not mobile-friendly, it will maintain its Google rank when the search is done from a desktop or even a tablet. If most of your traffic comes from desktops, a redesign might not be as crucial as you think.
  2. The update will only demote mobile-unfriendly websites for non-branded searches: If someone uses a mobile device to search for your site, it will still appear near the top, regardless of its mobile-friendliness. Google has determined that to omit a searched-for site just because it doesn’t display properly would be a worse experience for the user.
  3. Google has made it easy to gauge the mobile-friendliness of your site: By clicking here, you’ll be able to enter any URL and see just what Google thinks of its mobile responsiveness.

Google has long been known as an Internet trailblazer — with this latest update, though, they might be seen not as necessarily setting the trend, but simply reacting to an ever-changing market.

Marcus Kaulback
Marcus is a content creator and marketer with a focus on branding and communications.

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