04/29/2015

10 Questions You Want Answered On Google’s Mobile SEO Changes

By James

It’s been a little over a week since Google officially changed its algorithm that dictates search results on mobile phones. Now that the dust has cleared, I’m sure questions are looming! I wanted to share the ten questions (with answers, of course) that we’ve been hearing at Figmints. It’s important to understand what changed and how it will impact where your company appears in Google’s search results.

First off, why is a change to mobile search engine optimization (SEO) relevant? Well, according to an article in the Huffington Post, more than 20% of Google searches are performed on a mobile device. Moreover, 25% of Internet users only access the web from their mobile phones. Most importantly: mobile web access is expected to exceed that of desktop computers this year.

Without further adieu, here is what you really need to know:

1. HAVE MOBILE SEARCH RESULTS ON GOOGLE REALLY CHANGED?

Yes. Forever and ever. Regardless of your search ranking on a desktop computer (if your company shows up as #1 or #4 on a Google search), your search ranking in Google on a phone is now different. Unless your website is mobile-friendly, your company may be entirely absent from search results on a mobile phone.

You’ll now notice Google provides a “mobile-friendly” classification beneath search results on your phone. More importantly, websites that don’t have this classification are not at the top (or even near the top) of search results.

2. WHAT ABOUT SEARCH RESULTS ON TABLETS OR DESKTOP COMPUTERS?

This change only impacts mobile devices. Any Google search completed on a desktop computer or on a tablet will not be affected in any way.

3. WHAT EXACTLY IS A MOBILE-FRIENDLY WEB PAGE?

In order for a web page to be mobile-friendly, it needs to either be a responsive website or be a separate, mobile-specific webiste. Essentially, the web page should fit appropriately to appear on a phone screen & provide acccessibility for a touch screen. Google also has additional classifications that you can check out here.

The best way to provide a mobile-friendly website is to have a responsive website. A responsive web page responds to different screen sizes (desktop, tablet, & mobile) and scales appropriately. Alternativley, you could also have a separate mobile web page with a URL that is different from a desktop or tablet site (for instance, you’ll often see a URL change to mobile.url.com). Having entirely separate websites for desktop computers, tablets, and mobile devices, however, is far from ideal. Instead, responsive web design, is industry standard in web design & development.

4. HOW DO I TELL IF MY WEBSITE IS CLASSFIEID AS MOBILE-FRIENDLY?

Google created a mobile-friendly test. Enter your webpage and see what GoogleBot thinks here.

5. CAN I SEE CHANGES IN SEARCH RESULTS YET?

Yes. Definitely. It has been a little over week since this update to Google’s algorithim took place on April 21st. GoogleBot has had plenty of time to scan all of your web pages by now.

6. WHAT IS RESPONSIVE DESIGN AND HOW DO I GET IT?

As I started to explain above, responsive web design means that a web page scales to respond to a change in your screen size (check out step 3 of our web design process for a video demonstration). For instance, if you take this browser window and make the window full screen, half screen, or even a quarter of your screen, the page should respond to that change, consistently fitting the size of your window.

7. IS ADWORDS EFFECTED?

Nope. If you pay to appear at the top of search results, you will still be there.

8. WILL I GET DELISTED ON GOOGLE?

Technically, no. Your web page will still exist & be accessible on a mobile phone, even if it is not mobile-friendly. Nonetheless, don’t be surprised if your web page doesn’t show up on the first or even the second page of Google search results. Content will still dictate relevancy in search results, but not to equally offset the value GoogleBot attributes to having a mobile-friendly layout.

9. WAIT — SO WHAT’S THE REAL, LONG-TERM IMPACT OF THIS CHANGE TO GOOGLE’S SEARCH ENGINE ALGORITHM?

Google estimates that 11% of all search results (out of billion on billions) will change. That’s a lot! You don’t want to have your SEO on mobile phones negatively impacted by this change. The time is now to make sure you have a mobile responsive website!

10. BUT WHY WOULD GOOGLE DO THIS TO ME!?

If you have a mobile responsive site (which is standard for all sites built by Figmints!), then you are totally okay. Nothing will change. In fact, you should support this change! It will help boost your rankings if your competitors do not have mobile-friendly sites. Ultimately, Google scans every single existing web page on the Internet. It’s more efficient for GoogleBot to scan a site that uses responsive design since all URLs are the same across devices.

The bottom line is that Google search results on mobile devices have permanenlty changed. It’s time to ugprade to a responsive website, if you haven’t already.

Have any other questions? Please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at lynsey@figmints.com.