A cat-and-mouse game between SEO experts and Google's algorithm is taking places since ages. We aren’t talking of Black Hat SEO experts, as they don’t last long and get weeded out in due course. Google has gone through many algorithm updates, including the Penguin and Panda updates that were aimed more towards penalizing bad practices – Black Hat SEO practices. Unlike Penguin and Panda, the current mobile algorithm change is focused on improving the web.
The global rollout of mobile-friendly update started on April 21st 2015. As a result of this, the search engine ranking of mobile friendly sites will be boosted on mobile devices. By mobile-friendly, it means that the text should be readable on mobile devices without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling.
Stated briefly, this update will affect only search rankings on mobile devices, search results in all languages globally and applies to individual pages, not entire websites. Despite the two month advance warning from Google, the bigger businesses are still scrambling while smaller business are quickly making changes in many cases. According to Head of SEO at uSwitch.com, Lucasz Zelezny:
“Small businesses tend to be far more flexible with their tech teams able to apply changes far quicker and easier than larger enterprises due to a less complicated infrastructure, also making it easier to roll out new software and processes.”
Jono Alderson, Head of Insight at Linkdex, added:
“In many ways, it’s easier for small businesses to pivot and reinvent themselves and their business strategy based on how their customers prefer to interact with them.”
These thoughts have been shared by many SEO experts across the globe, all agreeing that small businesses are perfectly placed to align their online business and stay ahead of their competitors.
A former senior member of the Google Webspam team, Kaspar Szymanski, offered a more upfront and direct approach by stressing on the fact that site owners should offer the right experience for the right user at the right time for the right device in the right location. He said:
“It’s not rocket science. Bite the bullet, ditch your unresponsive site or your ‘m.’ subdomain and embrace a blend of responsive, reactive, adaptive content and templates. Do it now, or be displaced by competitors who got there – and stopped frustrating their consumers – years ago.”
Moreover, what is important is that website owners – big or small -- can no longer afford to offer a poor mobile experience any longer. How Google treats such sites after the update should be the main cause of worry for business owners, because mobile traffic is growing by every passing day. According to Smart Insights, mobile was all set to overtake fixed internet access by 2014. We are well past this mobile tipping point as the report from comScore below shows:
Many foresighted businesses have already transitioned their sites to be mobile friendly and be in compliance with Google’s Mobilegeddon algorithm update, well ahead of the D day – 21st April 2015. They will always have the first mover advantage.
However, it is never too late even now. Businesses can quickly take a decision to requisition services of experts and companies that have executed such projects and have a real portfolio to showcase instead of discussing it on paper. Do not move in a rush and do not look for some “CHEAP” solution, as the cheapest often doesn’t translate into the best.
Your website is the identity of your business on the web, and most of the time you are dealing with first-time visitors too. The first impression is the last impression, and you will not even have time to convince them about your operations if the website experience turns out to be shabby.
The cost of migration can be anywhere between Rs 40,000 to Rs 75,000 for a database driven site. If your site is not a database driven site, might as well have it done so. This offers advantages as any design change don’t need handling the data all over again. Good companies can finish the migration with an entirely new design within four to six weeks. The sky is not going to fall during this period. As the new site goes online, Google will crawl pages again.
Most important is take the decision and start working on the same. Look for specialists who have executed projects with custom designs instead of picking up some readymade template and then coming up with a band-aid solution.