So Google announced earlier this year that they’d be introducing further changes to their algorithm to penalise sites that aren’t mobile-friendly, leading many to adopt the phrase Mobilegeddon, in the run up to the implementation on the 21st April. But I can’t help thinking that for all the fanfare and the massess of online discussions about how this could ruin many online businesses, it all ended up being a bit of a damp squib or a latter day Y2K-style issue.
Yes, it was probably more important for high-traffic B2C sites, particularly social media, news and ecommerce platforms that naturally lend themselves to their content being digested on the move via mobile devices. But for B2B sites or even lower traffic blogs (like mine!) I can’t help thinking that the whole impact was over-egged and resulted in significant discussion, research and reworking of websites in the run up to the change.
Having said that, of course it makes sense from a UX perspective to have a website that works in all contexts, orientations and for all screen sizes, but my issue is that the urgency with which many were promoting changes to be made was excessive.
The key issue
But more importantly than that, when you start considering your website traffic in more detail, you’ll see why this mobile-friendly issue may not have been such a big issue after all.
If you think that a typical B2B website, or indeed this blog, may receive anywhere from 5-20% of its traffic via a mobile device. Of that proportion, when you look at Google Analytics, I’ve often seen it further split between tablet devices and mobile devices fairly evenly – so at any one time, a maximum of 10% of web visitors are arriving on the site via a mobile device.
Depending on the design of the platform, it may or may not be a good experience for them – but that’s not the issue here. The key issue is whether an individual has actually searched for your site using Google. Because if they have, and your site isn’t mobile-optimised or responsively designed, then your position in the Google search results may suffer. But remember that the maximum of 10% of web visitors on a mobile device may not be arriving via Google search. They may have bookmarked your site, they may arrive from other inbound links or social referrals – so my contention with ‘Mobilegeddon’ is that the true impact is arguably less than was suggested initially and we’ve been the victim of online scaremongering.
Of course, if your site is based on WordPress (as this one is) then it’s relatively quick and easy to identify a replacement theme that is mobile-friendly or responsive-designed, upload and activate it – and then you’re compliant with the Google algorithm.
But if you’re managing your site using a different CMS or system, then you might need bit more help and direction. And that’s where Google’s Webmaster Tools come in handy. Once you’ve registered your site with the platform, it’ll be analysed and a report on where any issues (from Google’s perspective) will be made available to you – along with a list of fixes and further advice that you may want to implement. Whether that’s easy or not to implement will depend on your technical ability or the ability of the team or person working on your site, but at least you know where you should be focusing your efforts.
Free test of mobile-friendly status
You can test your site, or any of your competitor sites, using this free Google tool here.