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It Will Be The Biggest Google Update In A Decade

Google has pre-announced that in April it will be updating its mobile algorithm—which has the potential to be Google’s biggest update since Florida in 2003!

In late February, their Webmaster Central Blog posted the following:

Google Mobile Update Announcement

Zineb Ait Bahajji—a member of Google’s Webmaster Trends team—was quoted as saying at SMX Munich that Google’s mobile update would have a bigger impact than both Panda and Penguin.

Google Mobile Bigger Than Panda Or Penguin

Google update coming April 21

While we all know that Google’s big update will have a significant impact on how Google ranks mobile websites, you may be have a few more questions like—why is Google updating their mobile algorithm? What will the update really mean? And, what can you do about it?

The answer as to why Google cares about mobile usability is because users do:

  • 61% of users say they are unlikely to return to a mobile site that they have had trouble with previously
  • 40% said they’d visit a competitor’s mobile site instead of returning to the original troublesome mobile site

Will you be affected by Google’s mobile update? You can see if your website is mobile friendly here.

What does Google’s update mean for you?

Over last couple of months, through Google Webmaster Tools, Google has been notifying website owners that their sites no longer meet Google’s mobile usability criteria. These notifications look like the following:

Google Mobile Notification

Google is giving website owners three options to fix any issues that are impacting the fastest growing segment of search (mobile).

Option 1. Respond by not responding. Keep everything as is.

The downside to a response of no response is that according to Google’s notification, “These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”

This likely means that when you search for something on your mobile device after April 21st Google will have some sort of notification next to any site that is not mobile friendly, virtually killing any sort of mobile search traffic to that site from Google.

And it looks like Google is not waiting until April 21 to roll this out. I saw this result last night. Note the “mobile-friendly” text before the description. How long do you think it will take the average user top realize what that means, and if a website does not have that tag, to not click through to it?


With over 50% of all Google searches being mobile (a number that increases every day), what do you think the impact to your business is of losing 20%, 30%, 40%, or more of your traffic from Google?

Option 2. Have someone make a mobile-friendly version of your website that retains the current look and feel.

If your website is built on a CMS system like WordPress there are plugins like the WP Touch, WP Mobile Detector, and Mobile Press which will make your website meet Google’s new mobile standards. The challenge here is that not everything converts perfectly from a blog to a mobile friendly site.

Option 3. Redesign your website completely, making it 100% mobile and Google friendly.

This would obviously be the most expensive option. Mobile first web design, a growing movement in the design world, is the opposite approach of option two. The basic idea is that mobile sites should be designed first then expanded into pages for tablets and desktops.

What will be the impact of Google’s new algorithm?

I don’t believe that this being the biggest update to Google’s algorithm in more than a decade is hyperbolic. The reason why is that we have passed the mobile Tipping Point as this report from comScore shows.

Mobile v desktop internet users

Demonstrated via the above graph, U.S. users are now spending more time consuming digital media on their phone and tablet than they are on a laptop or desktop computer. And that gap is only going to grow.

April 21st will see the biggest Google update in more than a decade. Companies that do not have a mobile friendly site or a mobile strategy will find themselves left behind as website traffic from mobile devices will drop. To keep your site’s traffic from declining, contact us today about setting up a mobile strategy!