Web developers and SEOs often lament the idea that Google is “only in it for the money.” While this is certainly true of most companies, it doesn’t change the fact that many of the changes pushed by Google are good—good for business, good for search results and good for Internet users.
Most of all, these changes are good for Internet usage. The motivation behind Google’s drive for quality is not altruistic. The more useful the Internet is, the more people use it. And the more people use the Internet, the more money Google makes.
For example, over the last 3 years Panda and Penguin algorithm updates dramatically reduced the ability of webmasters to game the system by pushing poor-quality content to the top of search results. Most would agree that these changes have forced a systematic change in SEO strategy. Savvy marketers have abandoned attempts to gain rank with link spam or shady on-page tactics, acknowledging that quality content and improved website usability are the keys to success. As a result, the Internet is easier to search and inherently more useful.
Google’s latest move was a bit different. Unlike most algorithm changes, which by nature have to remain somewhat mysterious, the search engine giant telegraphed their most recent change. Google was quite clear in an announcement made in late February of this year: all things equal, websites that are not responsive to devices of all sizes will not rank as well in mobile search results.
Long rumored, the announcement was made official by Google on their blog for webmasters:
“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
Starting this week, Google will favor mobile-friendly sites in mobile search results.
Consistent with algorithm changes in the past, Google is using their clout to force change. A good mobile experience is crucial for Google earnings going forward. As mobile search grows, sites that don’t work well in a small format, are likely to convert at a lower rate, diminishing the value of Google’s core product.
In all likelihood, this change will improve the web experience and, not coincidentally, help ensure Google’s revenue stream moving forward.
If your site is not responsive, now is the time to make your move. Contact Mark D’Amico at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609.466.9187 ext. 132 for a quote—you may be surprised by how little it costs to make this important change. With mobile usage continuing to rise on a sharp curve, improving the mobile user experience should pay for itself in short order.