Over the next few weeks, millions of sites worldwide could start seeing a massive reduction in traffic from smartphone search results – an event nicknamed “Mobilegeddon.”
Why is this? One word: Google.
Two months ago, Google announced that it would soon be overhauling its search-ranking algorithms to give significant smartphone search preference to websites that are “mobile-friendly.” That means that sites whose content is more easily viewed and usable on mobile devices will have greater visibility in smartphone search results. (Tablet search results will not be affected.)
Google recently predicted that the number of search queries performed on mobile devices will soon outnumber those done on computers, and they want to ensure these users are seeing content they can easily digest. Now, content and link building are no longer the only cool kids on the SEO block, but usability as well.
If your site currently ranks on the first page of results for a search on Google, and your site does not pass Google's "Mobile-Friendly Test", then your site will disappear and be lost in the mass of millions of other search results on mobile devices. Considering that 92% of all clicks happen on the first page, that's a huge loss in traffic.
The overhaul happened recently: April 21, 2015. If your business or blog relies on Google search traffic to attract users, and your site isn't "mobile-friendly," it will be affected by these changes. Here is the full FAQ from Google.
How do I fix these problems?
You need to make your website "responsive," specifically in the areas listed in the test results. Responsiveness is the term used in web design to describe the process of making a website "respond" to the device its being viewed on, and changing its content and styling to best suit varying screen sizes.
The steps you need to take to make your site responsive vary in complexity and difficulty depending on what's wrong, and how your site is hosted. If your site was custom built by a developer, and there's significant issues, this could cost you weeks, and thousands of dollars in developer time. Making a website responsive once it’s already built is not always easy.
What's involved with making a site responsive?
The overall goal in making a site responsive is ensuring that it is usable on a variety of devices. This can mean modifying your site by: increasing text and button sizes, adding additional space between clickable items, having the page width match the screen width, changing the layout of elements, and speeding up the page (for those on slow 3G connections).
Screen sizes used to access web pages can vary from 3" all the way to 30" and above, and can be in landscape or portrait mode. Having a one-size-fits-all site is definitely not going to work across the board.
Quite often, when a site is not responsive and is loaded on a phone, the content is extremely tiny, and the user has to pinch-zoom and pan to find what they need. This is not an ideal user experience. The first step is to make the site width match the device width.
After doing this, elements that are normally adjacent to each other may become visually cramped. Consider stacking elements vertically on smaller screen sizes: if you have three article summaries side-by-side on desktop, try having only two adjacent articles on tablet, and down to one article per row on mobile, giving each one enough room to breathe.
Mobilegeddon demonstrates that Google is truly one of the most powerful companies in the world. A simple change in their search algorithms can affect hundreds of thousands of businesses and blogs overnight,
As outlined above, to adhere to the new requirements, it comes down to making your website responsive – prioritize the user experience above all else. Don’t treat responsiveness as an afterthought or a “nice have.” Treat it as a pivotal component of web design, as we do at Webflow.
Whatever way you proceed, act quickly as Google’s changes are live and you could already be losing mobile search traffic.
NOTE: All of our websites are now RESPONSIVE!