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Should I Update My Website for Mobilegeddon?

By Richard Foulkes

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past three months, you’ve probably heard Google introduced a mobile update on April 21, coined “Mobilegeddon.”

Sounds terrifying right? In actuality, it’s been far from it – at least for now.

I won’t dive into much detail about it because it’s pretty straightforward. Basically, Google is rewarding websites that are mobile optimized and look consistent across all platforms and devices.

The update all comes down to quality control.

Google doesn’t want to penalize sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. What it actually cares about is providing its 3.5 billion daily Googlers with the best user experience possible, so searchers keep using it.

To be Responsive or to not be Responsive… That is the Question.

Should you make a responsive website or not? That’s the million-dollar question right now.

There’s no definitive answer, but here are a few factors that may help you decide.

First, try this tool out: Google Mobile Test. If it’s as bad as this…

Then you might need to look at your options.

Next, dive into the Analytics of course.

You can find this data or information in more than one way. Here’s the first. Jump onto the “Channels” section of Google Analytics:

Acquisition >

All Traffic >

Channels.

Next up go to the segment that’s labeled “All Sessions.” Click it, and remove or untick the all sessions’ box. Scroll down, and you should see “Mobile Traffic.” Simply tick it, and click apply.

Once you’re looking at the data you can assess which channels send you the most mobile traffic. If organic search is right up there then I’d advise you keep digging.

Analyze the bounce rate, exit rate, entrances and all of the other metrics to see if there is a strong argument for a mobile site.

Here’s another way to check it out. Jump into Analytics again and go to:

Audience >

Mobile >

Overview.

Here you can see the mobile traffic as a whole, with no additional channels or further data.
It shows you how much mobile traffic your website is actually receiving.

If you do the same path again, but this time visit “Devices,” you’ll see which devices perform well.

This is incredibly useful for businesses who might be debating if they need an iPhone or Android app.

I’d begin with these tools because it provides you with fantastic insights into the channels mobile searchers are using, how many of them there are and what devices they’re searching on.

Your site(s) is also tracking events, conversions and ecommerce clicks, which allows you to attribute a monetary value to it as well. Pretty handy when you’re debating whether to go responsive or not.

The Burning Question

Clients and site owners have been asking me the following two questions repeatedly.

  • If I’m not mobile friendly will I lose any traffic?
  • If I’m not mobile friendly will it affect my desktop rankings?

According to Google at the recent SMX Munich Zineb event, no and no.

In fact, there’s a fantastic article on Moz which covers nine valuable points that might answer some of your lingering questions. You can find it here. It’s worth a read.

So to answer your question on whether you should update your website so it’s responsive, my answer is: I honestly don’t know. I would need to analyze some of the data first.

If you choose to ignore the warning signs then you’re probably not going to do so well. But if you’re making an effort to serve the best experience on your desktop site right through to your mobile site you have no reason to worry.

The first point on Google’s Ten Things We Know to be True states: “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”

Comments
JohnAlmighty

Thanks. Very useful.

DrQuincy

This is a decent article, much more balanced and helpful than most I've read.

It makes me cringe when people refer to it as “Mobilegeddon”. I didn't realise SEOs were so desperate for work that they need to use such overly-sensationalist terms.

  1. It's not a penalty
  2. It only applies to mobiles, not tablets or desktop searches
  3. By Google's own admission, it's one of many factors used to determine position

Yes, it's worth doing, but “Mobilegeddon”. Give me a break.

foulkesr

Thanks for reading!

foulkesr

It's a shame that sometimes, SEOs will scare businesses with these terms. I'm all about honesty and transparency and the truth is it's too hard to tell what this update has done. At least for now.

Glad you enjoyed!

DarthGuido

When I first read about this, I was wondering why Google would care about mobile when I do a search on my desktop. And I'm glad to hear that they don't. IMO it wouldn't make sense.

It does make sense when I use my mobile. What use is it to me if Google offers me sites that, when I open them on my mobile, are completely unreadable/useless?

joshuajacoby

I will definitely give credit to Google. This was one of the first penalties that they really marketed in an effort to effect change in the web design and search engine optimization industry, and really a change for more optimized websites for mobile browsers, which makes the web more usable overall. Really a pretty great thing for them to have done. Of course there may be more than just an altruistic motive at hand. Consider the cost of crawling nonmobile optimized webpages using a mobile spider, this is quite expensive when you think of all the data across the entire Internet, and consider having to recall it periodically. By forcing optimization and reducing page load time for mobile devices, and reducing the amount of JavaScript and super large files including flash files, crawling has become more economical for the search engines themselves. Though that's probably just conspiracy theory talk, Google by and large does seem to be pretty goodhearted.

zinist

Hi,
Thanks for sharing. Very useful article

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