A woman using a cell phone illustrates the importance of being mobile-friendly

Google is set to begin ranking mobile websites higher in just over three weeks’ time – starting April 21.

The company’s algorithm updates always focus on ensuring that websites provide the best user experience and while improving upon the mobile experience has been important for some time now, but it’s never been a ranking factor. That will change next month.

In their blog post, Google wrote:

This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

How significant will these changes be?

Zineb Ait Bahajji, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, shared some insights on the rollout at SMX Munich last week. According to Ait Bahajji, the mobile rollout starting on April 21 will have a bigger impact on search results than the Penguin and Panda updates did.

This may explain why some people are referring to the update as “Mobilegeddon.” Many businesses are worried about the update and are scurrying to get their websites mobile-friendly.

Mobilegeddon is Near - Is your Site Ready?Click To Tweet

Should you be worried about your site?

It really depends. Before undertaking what can be a huge project, you need to evaluate what your users want. Review your Google Analytics, what are the traffic trends for the last 3, 6 and 12 months? Is most of your traffic coming from mobile devices? If so, then you should definitely be taking note of the April 21st deadline.

Even if your current traffic isn’t coming from mobile devices, you need to think about the future. It’s predicted that 2015 will be the year that mobile search will surpass desktop.  Think about 6 or 12 months from now. How will new and existing customers be searching for you or finding you? If the trend is moving towards mobile, then that’s something you’ll have to give some serious thought.

You can rebuild your current site so that it is responsive or create a mobile-friendly version. Google doesn’t care which you have so long as you have a mobile-friendly site, as that is what users want.

It can be difficult to keep up with Google’s search algorithm changes, but there are some tools available to help:

  • Mobile-Friendly Test – This tool from Google will let you test a few pages on your site. Remember, it’s important to test multiple pages. Just because your home page is mobile-friendly doesn’t mean the other pages on the site will be.
  • Mobile Usability Report – Using your Webmaster Tools account, you can get a full list of mobile usability issues.

Do you have any questions about the April 21 ranking change? Leave a comment below or send me a note.

Top Photo Courtesy of Wilfred Iven