Recent years have seen a phenomenal rise in mobile searches and as per Google predictions mobile searches would have overtaken desktop searches by 2018. But according to latest reports, traffic from mobiles has already superseded that from desktops with 2015 emerging as the year for mobiles and tablets with 40% of the world’s population owning a smart device. Emails, shopping, games, apps, music, downloads, etc. are becoming increasingly popular on all kinds of smart devices leading to this drift that is almost 50/50. This trend has led to the emergence of the new Google algorithm – Armageddon, which is good as well as bad news for websites.
Introducing Google Armageddon
Google is no doubt the world’s largest search engine as suggested by statistics. Google has reinforced its position in the search market by introducing algorithms and upgrading them periodically. Now it is all set to roll out Google Armageddon on April 21st, its latest algorithm that will probably wreak mayhem in the web world and in all probability impact way more than Google Panda and Penguin. This will come into effect in all languages cutting across regions and countries for global impact. Though the official date of implementation has been set for April 21st, it could take up to a week for it to take complete effect during which website rankings could be fluctuating.
What is Google Armageddon?
Google Armageddon will be according more importance to responsive websites. By responsive websites we are referring to sites that are mobile friendly. Come 21st April and you shall see harried websites suddenly disappearing or showing up with dismal rankings. Mobile friendliness and optimization will become a crucial factor to achieve significant rankings in Google. Whether or not penalties will be imposed by the search engine giant in case of failure to comply is unknown as of now. So this is good news for websites that already have mobile optimized content and bad for those who are yet to venture into the mobile space.
Aims at Improved User Experience
We need to understand that over the last few years Google has been stressing on improving user experience in searches across all platforms. To bring this to effect, responsive websites have achieved better rankings that those who were not responsive. This new algorithm simply aims at improved user experience and involvement as users will be directed to high quality mobile-friendly websites. Websites that have been designed keeping in mind smart device users will surge ahead and rise in search results with better rankings and those who are yet to step up to this will unfortunately take a back seat. The introduction of this algorithm may not be instantly noticed by users, but will be of great benefit to Google itself that faces stiff competition from Yahoo and Bing. This will help Google provide useful and precise content to its users as searched by them.
Optimization for Higher Rankings
The new algorithm is bound to bring about significant changes because Google aims to serve users better through highly relevant and timely search results. This will change what mobile users get to see at the top of their searches as they will be served up with content optimized for their device. Websites that have been optimized for mobile searches will appear much higher in search results as compared to those that are not. It could be a game changer for small or middle sized businesses that have mobile optimized content as they stand to gain in the wake of competition from larger players who may not have mobile optimization. Larger businesses or websites often have big and complicated websites that many a time refuse to even fit into a mobile screen, which will now turn into negative marking for them!
Focus on User Experience not Only on Rankings
However, one needs to bear in mind, that mobile optimization is required not only to achieve higher rankings but also to impart a better user experience. The optimized website should be easy to navigate with minimal loading time. Mobile friendliness will be evaluated by Google on several parameters since the focus of this move is enhancing user experience for mobile, tablet and smart device users. What you gain in terms of growth, sales, traffic conversions, etc. is secondary. Google will use Googlebot to analyze the friendliness of websites. Some crucial indicators of mobile friendliness that shall be considered are:
- Use of software in websites that are incompatible with mobiles and other smart devices
- Responsiveness of the website which means the ability of the website to adapt to the size of the mobile or tablet without hampering its quality.
- Readability of content on website is another factor. Text content on a website should be readable without zooming in.
- Workability of links on your website and accessibility are important factors as well.
- Loading time of website on a mobile is also a vital indicator.
Dealing with Google Armageddon
The real impact of Google Armageddon will be felt and understood only after April 21st 2015. It is only after this comes into force that you will realize where your website stands, irrespective of whether it is responsive or not, though responsive ones will be less affected than those that are not. You need to ask yourself a few questions to judge the impact of this new algorithm.
- How shall this affect my business?
Though widespread in nature, the impact may not be equal for all businesses. This is largely dependent on the type of industry you are in. Players in industries like travel, banking & finance, hospitality, restaurant, media, entertainment, retail, etc. are expected to be more affected as compared to others.
- What should be my plan of action?
Check your website for mobile friendliness with the help of Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and access a mobile usability report. This will give you an idea of your actionable areas.
- Do I need to get everything done by April 21st?
If you already have a responsive website you may or may not be required to take some corrective action but if you do not have a mobile friendly website and are in the process of launching one, you need to speed up the process and need to get things up and working by April 21st. If you are not planning for one, then you need to get your act together and get going to build a responsive website.
- How much are these changes going to cost me?
You need to get in touch with SEO experts and find out what needs to be done, get an estimate and act accordingly.
- Does my site have major issues that need to be worked upon?
If you already have responsive website there is nothing much for you to do. However, you do need to re-check the loading speed on mobile, ease of navigation, update CMS if needed, optimize images and text content. You also need to test each page of your website on mobile for responsiveness.
Another thing that you need to verify is whether Googlebot is able to crawl your site properly and read relevant content. If it is unable to do so, your site will not be considered responsive. The content on your website may appeal to Google when accessed by users from a desktop or laptop, but if mobile users do not experience a similar satisfaction your site will run a chance of getting automatically booted from mobile search results.
- What is the percentage of mobile traffic to my site?
The answer to this can be derived by employing Google Analytics that shall give you a detailed insight into the quality, source, etc. of traffic to your site that should help you decide as to how important responsiveness is for your website. You need to make a prudent business decision here as to where you can invest your capital, with a comparative analysis of ROI.
At the end of it, business owners with websites need to understand that this is not a threat but in fact a massive opportunity that offers unlimited potential for growth. The internet is accessed by millions across the globe every minute and making yourself accessible to them is unleashing the power of the internet and opening up new vistas for your business.