No, the Internet sky is not falling and the search engine optimization end is not near, but you might think it was if you read some of the technology news headlines this week. Don't let the so-called "Mobilegeddon" fool you.
Playing off the theme of Armageddon -- a biblical end-times battle between God and evil -- some are calling Google’s latest wave of algorithm changes Mobilegeddon. Indeed, some headlines are asking if your site is ready for Google’s Mobilegeddon. Others are offering a Mobilegeddon checklist. Still others are sharing "everything you need to know" about Mobilegeddon.
There's plenty of hype, but what's the reality? In a nutshell, Google is working to highlight more mobile-friendly Web sites and more relevant app content in its search results. That seems to make sense in an increasingly mobile-driven world, but are the death knells ringing for organizations that don't have a strong mobile presence? We'll soon find out because this so-called Mobilegeddon begins today.
The Mobile-Friendly Scramble
"Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal," Google said in a February blog post that struck fear in the hearts of some Web site owners. "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."
Google gave Web sites owners a heads up nearly two months ago, along with instructions on how to create a mobile-friendly site. Indeed, Google equipped webmasters to get ready for the change by offering a Mobile-Friendly Test to see how the Googlebot views their pages. Google also offered a Mobile Usability Report in its Webmaster Tools to give webmasters a rundown of mobile usability issues.
Back in February, Google also said it was already starting to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed. The bottom line: Google searches will bring up content from apps that are indexed, giving them higher rankings in the results alongside mobile-friendly sites.
Is Mobile Less Useful?
In response to our story yesterday titled, "Webmasters Face Google Mobilegeddon," reader Kristen S. shared her perspective. She points out that mobile apps are not always as useful as their full-blown Web counterparts, and she believes Google is making an elitist move because companies need to be large enough and have enough money to invest in making their sites mobile-ready.
"I am sure it will be painful initially, and that the most mobile friendly will survive, but that is not how I like to judge the overall quality of something," she writes. "I will be searching for more legitimate search results elsewhere, and urge others to do the same."
She makes an excellent point about some mobile apps being less likely to have everything a user needs.
"If you only access your info from one of these sites, you may have no idea what is actually available on the more comprehensive, though less mobile-friendly site, or even how to find that information." For example, she writes, "I have to make sure I don't use the Domino's [pizza ordering] app if I want to access the Free delivery I have paid for. I need to go off my Bank of America app in order to access more detailed info like a list of bills to pay, and recent amounts. And my iPad keeps on wanting me to choose the more mobile-friendly versions of multiple sites, although these sites give me a very limited menu."
She ponders whether users will eventually be able to do much of anything on mobile devices due to a hyper-focus on mobile-friendly design over actual content. Instead, she suggests users should be allowed to choose what kind of info and sites they need -- shortened mobile apps vs. their full-site counterparts. "Mobile-friendly is nice, but it is just one piece of the big picture."
What Is Google’s Motive
We asked Greg Sterling, Vice President of Strategy & Insights at the Local Search Association, for this thoughts on the so-called Mobilegeddon. He told us Google is clearly catering to a mobile world in which a "meaningful percentage" of web sites still don't render well on smart phones.
"Google is doing this to motivate publishers to adopt mobile-friendly sites or responsive design," Sterling said. "The primary reason is to improve the mobile search experience. Presumably a better mobile search experience will encourage and increase usage, which has financial implications for Google."
So, is Google concerned about mobile users or its own search engine market share and the dollars that follow? Based on Sterling's take, it seems to be little bit of both.
"Google's search market share is greater in mobile than it is on the PC," Sterling said. "However, mobile search is not used as extensively on smartphones because the experience has been awkward or suboptimal. This is what Google is trying to address."
Former AdWords Customer:
Posted: 2015-04-23 @ 10:19am PT
Why not? We have "dumbed-down" everything else . . . why not search too?
Why don't you "Twitter-ize" it too while you're at it Google and determine for all of us that no search may be longer than 1.17 words?
The biggest data company in the world and yet, did they ask any of their actual customers to get data on what their actions might be. No, they believe they are God - if they can, they do if they desire. Why ask peon customers?
No customers were asked. Instead we see tyrannical rule. You can do that as a business, but for every action . . .
I turned off our $2K a year ad program yesterday. For good. It's not much, but you don't have to lose much over time to negatively affect everything that was built on good will. In age of information, good will has more value than ever because of how quickly it can turn to bad will.
Don't be evil is now, quit being tyrants. See you later --much later -- like, never.
There are many alternatives to Google for everything now. And almost all do just as good a job at customer-related tasks. If you want high-level tasking go buy good software and don't trade privacy for free software.
Also, anyone can go to sites like Odesk.com and see that there are programmers and buyers all looking for and offering artificial clicks, likes, friends, etc. (log in and see) -- all you have to do is pay the offshore outfit and you, too, can claim reality is anything you want it to be.
Boycott? No, they'd actually have to be selling a real product that wasn't manipulated by click-monkeys to do an actual boycott.
Facade-Boycott. Yes. Boycott the facade known as Google.
Posted: 2015-04-23 @ 9:29am PT
Thank you Kristen S. for your insight. Agreed...not all web sites translate well to a mobile platform. Much is lost when you dumb down a site. Also, as a very small business site owner, I wonder why I am being bullied by Google into spending monies that cannot be found, let alone be spared, to create a mobile friendly site...or be tossed into the Google search abyss. My site sadly remains mobile unfriendly as Google's fixes didn't apply to my platform. I am a Yahoo store built with the dreaded Yahoo Sitebuilder. Not even the Yahoo techs can give me a solution as to how to make my site mobile friendly (they only know how to make the Yahoo Store Editor mobile friendly). Well, I do remain thankful my customers have found and purchased from my unfriendly mobile site by using that most difficult tool: the two - finger zoom action. Yep, I have intelligent customers who do not require a dumb downed site, however now they'll need a GPS to find me.
Posted: 2015-04-21 @ 10:40am PT
In India and in the U.K. where we work, mobile presents an exciting customer engagement opportunity that is ignored by various Web sites. Google, which observes a lot of this consumer behavior on its Web sites, is sending a loud and clear message to all Web sites - mobile, or else.