It's here, the change in Google search we've been warning you about. On April 21, Google's mobile rankings went from merely labeling a site as mobile friendly to now using that friendliness to mobile users as a factor that can rank the site higher in search results.
Google itself says this change in its algorithmic ranking formula will have a "significant impact" in mobile search results worldwide. How will it impact your site? If you're a Blue Fire customer who has already made the upgrade to a responsive site, you will have no problem. In fact, you will have an advantage over competitors who have failed to adjust to Google's new search paradigm. There are several ways to make a website mobile friendly, but Google recommends a responsive site as the best choice that's less prone to errors. A responsive site automatically adapts to the device a viewer's using, rearranging itself for better readability.
For those of you who haven't upgraded your sites to be responsive, does this spell Mobilegeddon? (For that matter, how do you spell Mobilegeddon? Without the first "e"? A hyphen before the "g"?)
Whether this is an algorithmic apocalypse or a minor drag on your website's search results may be hard to discern right away. You should realize, however, that minor drags have a way of sticking around, pulling your search ranking continually downward and undermining your search engine optimization efforts.
How the New Search Factors Work
Google's decision to increase positive ranking factors for mobile-ready websites only impacts searches conducted on mobile devices. Mobile readiness is not a key factor for searches done from desktops or tablets. So if all your customers do their work and searches from desktop computers, you have nothing to worry about, right?
Wait, you don't really believe that last sentence, do you? Using a smart phone for a search isn't just done by someone walking down the street looking for a place to eat. A foreman on the plant floor may take out his phone to find someone who repairs industrial machines quickly. A plant manager may use his smart phone in a business meeting to find options for a new vendor who's more responsive to filling orders quickly. Maybe you're that vendor who's more responsive, but if your website isn't, that manager won't see your listing buried beneath others that do link to mobile friendly sites.
Change Isn't Immediate, But Soon
How soon will you see the changes in search rankings? The changeover occurred on April 21, so if you checked your ranking on April 22, you may not have seen a difference. Google said "it'll be a week or so before it makes its way to all pages in the index." So check again.
Links to a Mobile-Unfriendly Site Ok, But...
If your landing page is mobile friendly, it can still link to a page that isn't responsive or mobile friendly. But Google notes "it's not the best experience for mobile visitors to go from a mobile-friendly page to a desktop-only page, but hopefully as more sites become mobile friendly, this will become less of a problem." That's just some friendly advice from the web giant, right?
So What Are You Going to Do?
If your website is already responsive, you've already made the key move. If you've been waiting to upgrade your site to be mobile friendly, it's not too late. But maybe the wait should be over.