Google is like a teenager when it comes to their algorithm. Every month there’s something drastically new. As digital marketers, we all got spoiled when Google was on their “one major update every 18 months” kick. Now, it seems like something major comes down the pipe every quarter. While major spammers were the ones getting hit with penalties, sometimes a digital strategy in the gray area can cause a legit site to start from digital scratch. Before I speak about implications, let’s first look at what we can expect come April:
The experts are calling this Google’s mobile friendliness update. The name is fitting because it is the day Google will start using mobile friendly compliance as a factor in their mobile ranking algorithm. You can read the response directly from Google here, but the key points are as follows:
- More mobile friendly sites in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs)
- More relevant app content in SERPs
So, what makes a site mobile friendly? Well, as usual, Google doesn’t share much, but some things that we do know is that a mobile friendly site will:
- Pass Google’s mobile friendly test
- Has a clean mobile usability report within your site’s Google Webmaster Tools
What’s equally important in the news from Google is that information from indexed apps will be included in the SERPs. I think it would make a lot of sense if I, while searching on my iPhone, saw a piece of Tumblr content in the SERPs and, upon clicking on the result, that content actually opened up in my native Tumblr app. Could this be a sign that Google is investing less in display ads? I’d bet that Google would lose Google Display Network (GDN) revenue if the user was pushed to a site where the GDN didn’t exist.
So, back to the question of how much traffic would you lose by not playing Google’s game? It’s difficult to say, but one area where we can get a clue is to look at your Google Analytics. How much traffic is coming in through mobile? Take a look at this
According to this data pulled directly from Google Analytics, ~6% of my traffic comes in via mobile. If for whatever reason Google decided to penalize me for not being mobile friendly, I could bet that I am going to lose that amount of traffic. It looks even worse if tablets are bundled into what Google deems “mobile”.
However, a smart marketer would see this as an opportunity. Run your competitors through the same tool and see if they are doing everything they can to be mobile friendly. If they aren’t then you should be the first mover. If you act soon enough, you may be able to turn someone else’s 25% loss in mobile traffic into a gain for you.
Some are saying that this will only impact less than 1% of organic traffic, while others are saying that it has the potential to be a lot greater. Rather than try and rehash their data, head on over to SearchEngineLand. They’ve created some very clever ways to estimate traffic opportunity after the April update.