Google is increasing the influence of mobile-friendliness when determining which websites to show in mobile search results. With the May update looming, we look back at the original mobile-friendly algorithm update (a.k.a. "Mobilegeddon") and discuss how businesses should prepare for the sequel.
In February 2015, Google sent the search engine optimization (SEO) world into a two-month panic when it published a blog post containing the following paragraph:
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.
While that might seem fairly innocuous, there are two reasons why it tripped alarms for SEO insiders:
- Google rarely announces algorithm updates before they’re implemented, if at all.
- Any change to Google’s search algorithm is a big event in the SEO world, and the blog post’s wording (“significant impact”) left the door open for a wide range of potential outcomes.
Between the ambiguity and uncharacteristic two-month warning, the message seemed clear: your site better be mobile-friendly by April 21, 2015… or else. The SEO community quickly dubbed April 21 “Mobilegeddon,” which had enough panache to attract attention of mainstream publications, webmasters, and business owners.
But for those expecting an apocalyptic Mobilegeddon, 4/21/15 probably felt more like 12/21/12. After the dust settled, there were undeniable changes in mobile search results, but they was hardly earth shattering. According to Moz.com, the number of mobile-friendly web pages in mobile search results increased by two percentage points (from 70% to 72%) after the update rolled out.
Naturally, there was some confusion and outrage. Was Google pulling a fast one on us? Where were the four horsemen?
by Jack Thumser