Google has announced that as of April 21st, they’ll use mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal in their mobile search results. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering 57% of Americans own a smart phone and 90% of smart phone owners’ access the Internet daily from their phones. In fact, mobile searches (roughly 85.9 billion) are expected to surpass desktop searches in 2015.
The bottom line is people are coming to your website from mobile devices all the time. Google is making this change to so users will have an easier time getting relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for mobile devices. This new policy will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in all search results.
Until now, if your site wasn’t optimized for mobile viewing, you were probably already losing leads, sales and potential customers because your page wasn’t being served correctly. But going forward, not having a mobile site will compound those losses exponentially. Why? Because the Google algorithm will penalize you. A penalty is the consequence of Google objecting to something on or within the code of your site when it is crawled for content. A penalty on your domain can be a hard thing to recover from. In some cases, albeit more extreme, it can get to a point where it’s better to ABANDON your current domain and start completely over.
How do you know if you have been penalized?
There are two types of penalties: automatic or manual. With manual penalties, you’ll most likely be notified. But an automatic penalty from an algorithm change (such as the mobile-site change being implemented April 21st) will be harder to pick up on. These types of penalties can take even the most veteran SEO professionals by surprise.
If you think your site has a penalty, but aren’t sure, look for some of these indicators.
- When someone searches your specific brand name, you don’t come up as number one or at all. This is a sure-fire sign you’ve been penalized. Even if your site doesn’t typically rank well for whatever reason, it should at least perform well on your brand-name keywords.
- When you do eventually find your site through Google, a page other than your homepage shows up. This means Google isn’t showing your homepage but hasn’t yet gotten around to recrawling a more obscure page on your site.
- You start losing your organic position and haven’t made any major changes to your site.
- Running a site search brings up no results.
If you are experiencing one or more of these factors, you can be pretty sure that a penalty has affected your site at some point. Since none of the search engine companies are freely forthcoming with information regarding algorithms, it’s hard to say how deeply NOT having a mobile version will affect you. But if on April 22nd you start having some of the issues described above, you’ll know why.
If you don’t have a mobile version of your site yet but would like to get started, Google has a website full of resources to help. Click here (https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/get-started/?utm_source=wmc-blog&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=mobile-friendly) to get started.