Mobilegeddon: What You Need to Know Most

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Editor’s Note: Mobile is a topic we cover often on Selling Out, because we truly think it’s invaluable to know about. To give you even more helpful information, we spoke with Goldstar’s VP of Product BJ Clark. Clark is responsible for Goldstar’s mobile app and site, and below he offers insight into Mobilegeddon. 

April 21 brings a big change to Google search which, it hopes, will help to usher in quicker adoption of mobile web best practices. The change — called #mobilegeddon — is actually somewhat straightforward and helpful.

How does Google rank search engine results?
Google ranks pages across an unknown number of metrics generating a score for any given page and search term, which they call Pagerank. Going forward, if you’re searching on a mobile device, it will rank websites that work better for you higher than those that don’t, while still factoring in whether that page has the content you’re looking for.

What are the implications of #mobilegeddon?
Until the change actually rolls out, it’s really hard to predict just how much impact it will have. Will non-mobile-optimized sites be completely wiped from results pages? Doubtful. But if someone searches for your address or phone number and a dozen mobile optimized sites have it and your site isn’t optimized, I would guess you’re not going to be on the coveted first page of results.

This change is going to most affect sites which compete for web traffic generated by Google based on SEO. So if your site ranks highly for non-branded search terms, you stand the most to lose. All your competitors have to do is implement some widely adopted best practices, and they’ll have an advantage on you.

What is mobile optimization anyway?
In order to understand exactly what Google is looking for, we need to define mobile optimization in the first place. It’s relatively straightforward: If you go to your website on an iPhone or Android phone, does it look good? Can you navigate it? Can you read the text? Can you use your site search or log in?

Mobile optimization best practices, in their current incarnation, start and end with a single technique: something called “Responsive.” Responsive web design is simply the practice of designing a site to be flexible to all screen sizes, from phones to desktop computers to smart TVs. There are absolutely tons of resources out there on how to convert a design into “responsive,” but I highly recommend going straight to the source.

How do I know if Google thinks my site is mobile-friendly?
As with all things Google search result related, it helps to start at Google Webmaster Tools. There you’ll find, among many other useful tools, the original post explaining mobile on their blog. You’ll also find a nifty little test to see exactly how their bot sees your site. And you can also browse their best practices.

In the end, these changes are really for the better of the whole web. It’s simply giving an advantage to websites that stay current and incorporate best practices. Chances are, as you know if you’re a longtime Selling Out reader, lots, maybe even half, of your customers are coming to your site on a mobile device already. I feel pretty confident saying that that number will only increase in the future, so any resources you put toward making your site perform better on mobile is only going to pay off in the long run. And not just in your Google Pagerank.

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