The sky is (not) falling from Mobilegeddon

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If you happen to be a website administrator, the last few months have probably driven you drink. You spend years building up recognition as a source of quality content or a website with a specific utility and then poof, the winds of web change blow and everything you’ve hard for evaporates. This common narrative is popping up in offices across the country following a major search update by Google. An update that has quaintly been dubbed “Mobilegeddon.”

For over a decade the number one web search engine has been Google. Every day Google runs billions of web searches (yes, that’s billions, with a B), scouring the internet for every kind of information imaginable. The exact algorithmic wizardry Google employs to perform its web searches is the tech equivalent of Coca Cola’s secret formula, but unlike coke, Google has been modifying it's secret sauce over the years. The reason for these modifications is simple: while people can’t decode the Google search algorithm, they can learn it's tendencies.

Every website from startup businesses, nonprofit organizations to run of the mill blog craves a high Google pagerank. Being ranked near the top of Google search results means higher traffic, which means greater revenue, and ultimately becoming a go-to authoritative site. But reaching the top of a given Google search is a tight-wire act of search engine optimization with criteria that has historically included: keywords, metadata descriptions, fast loading design, quality content, inbound links, high traffic, authoritative author, and the list goes on forever.

Well as it turns out, all those Google search ranking factors can now officially be backburner-ed, because mobile-readiness is now the prize pupil. For the unversed, mobile-readiness is the web design principal of building two, three, and sometimes four different configurations of a website’s content in order to display faster and fit different screen sizes. Why is Google putting a premium on mobile ready sites? Because 60% of the world’s internet traffic is on mobile devices and if 3/5s of Google users are using its search tool on their mobile device, chances are they are looking for websites that will display properly on that device.

So April 21, 2015 Google’s mobilegeddon was released onto the world and... the carnage has minimal to say the least. Yes there are some signs that mobile prioritization has impacted some sites negatively, but overall the worldwide web was ready and waiting for this transition. The truth is Google makes hundreds of changes to its Google search algorithm each year. Sure the shift to focusing on mobile seems momentous because the web was initially built around desktop viewing, but mobilegeddon was about evolution, not revolution.

Still credence should be given to those feeling the pinch of this switch. Why should a well-trafficked site built on oldschool design be punished for falling behind the times? Because sites that take long to load and don’t properly fit a mobile device’s screen doesn’t just frustrate users with the site itself, it could also lead them to reconsider Google for future searches.

Of course it’s not the big sites that end up getting hurt in these situations but the little ones. Maybe you run a small site on needle point and recently saw your traffic numbers drop, before you start writing off Google as pure evil you might consider looking at this as a gift from the tech giant. Nevermind the business benefits of going mobile, Google’s search retcon actually comes with a transition guide. To make the switch simply search; “Google mobile guide” and the top result will shepherd you through the transition process. Good luck in this post-mobilegeddon world.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


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