Google’s April Algorithm Update: Mobile Search Gets Its Due

It’s coming this month, and it’s not going to be pretty.

Most current website owners are very pleased – and often surprised – by exactly how much smartphone traffic they’re getting. If you’re one of them, and your site in not in compliance, you’re in for a disappointment. If you’re really making money only off of mobile traffic, you’re facing a disaster.

Google has announced that they’ll be updating the algorithm that determines how your site is ranked on April 21, 2015.

If you’re site is optimized for mobile traffic, you should experience no problem. If it’s not, then you’re in for a bumpy ride, or at least, you’ll likely see less traffic than before. You can check what Google thinks here.

mobile search

Why is Google Downgrading My Site?

The short answer is that Google has an interest in showing mobile surfers to more mobile-friendly sites. If you’re site is cock-eyed and weird looking on a cell phone, it’s just not where they want to send their traffic.

Remember, this big April 21 algorithm update is just for searches begun on smartphones, not tablets, and just affects the search results shown on them. If your analytics are showing less than 10% mobile, maybe you can take your time with responding. Maybe…

But, while the whole internet is being surfed about 30% of the time from mobile devices, that traffic is also, importantly, some of the most engaged and lucrative traffic out there. Even if you’re not necessarily sure that you’re currently making money from mobile searchers, if your site depends on any kind of local or place-based sales or marketing, your customer base – and your actual sales – may very well be coming from local searches done on smartphones.

Some business will find that only 25% of their traffic is from mobile – but 50-60% of sales come from that traffic. That’s because people search by mobile for far more specific and focused reasons. “Surfing” is actually far from the right term for what people do with their smart phones.

What Can I Do if My Site Is Not Mobile-Friendly

This can depend a lot on the type and age of your site. Newer CMS templates, like those on WordPress and Joomla are already Mobile Friendly and their owners can rest easy. But older sites on the same kinds of platforms can also usually be brought into compliance without too many headaches.

The oldest solution is probably still just as good, too. Building a mirror site that’s a little lighter and a lot more mobile friendly is still a valid option. It’s actually a lot easier than “building a second website” sounds. But this can be especially troubling for non-professional website owners who really suffered through the past few years of SEO ups and downs. Getting your website how you want it is not always easy, especially if you’d rather be concentrating on your core-business.

We write here, and work for, people whose core business is not websites or even marketing, but who can really use support with the technology behind a good website or an online marketing campaign. Some of them are running “ye old website” and there will be cases where coming up to compliance is going to take some work. In many of these cases, it will be simplest to just migrate to a new platform, but of course, you can make it as complicated as you like.

A mirror site can be better and more easily customized to the specific needs and wants of your mobile traffic.

It’s generally a little cheaper than trying to make your regular website into a “responsive” website.

But then again, you may find yourself maintaining two websites, and there’s no telling how long these two sites will fit your current needs.

Migrating, or starting over on a Responsive site, on the other hand, let’s you work in an environment that is ready for whatever kind of traffic comes its way. That lets you maintain just one site, instead of two, and Google has said they prefer this method and it’s likely that you’ll be good for the known future.

Now a shiny new website built with a responsive design may cost a little more upfront, though the costs on most platforms are coming way down. If you’ve got a ton of old content that needs to be reworked to be imported or re-used in your new site, it can get more time consuming, but in most cases we’re finding that most business are easily able to adjust.

If mobile-friendliness has never entered into your range of plans and thoughts, it probably should now. The reasons for re-designing and re-launching are more pressing than ever, and that’s going to be especially true if you’ve been enjoying some success with mobile traffic in the past. If you’re not sure, then we’ll almost guarantee there’s some gold in them hills.

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