21st May 2015

‘Mobilegeddon’? More of an SEO Storm in A Teacup

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A few months ago, rumours began to circulate of a new, asteroid like Google algorithm update that promised to devastate certain websites. Not long after, an official announcement set a firm date for those worrying about their imminent online doom: April 21st – the day the non-mobile friendly website would die.

Or, so we thought. While April 21st came and went, and the update (we were informed) did come in to effect, there were a lot less explosions and screaming webmasters than many had expected. ‘Mobilegeddon’, it seemed, was more of an SEO storm in a teacup.

So, what happened? While I like to imagine Bruce Willis did, in fact, load the internet with nuclear bombs and divert the dreaded update toward Mars (all to the theme of ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’), it seems more likely that the whole event was blown out of proportion to begin with.

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We can see this from the frankly underwhelming impact the update had on the majority of sites: the rollout was slow, with only a few sites being affected in the first few days and most of which only seeing a minimal shift in their page rankings. There were a few examples of high profile sites that were penalised for not being mobile friendly, such as Vogue, Reddit and SongLyrics, but these were the exception rather than the rule. And from looking at the search rankings again now, these sites seem to have recovered.

What can be learned then from the hysteria and hype of ‘Mobilegeddon’? Firstly, it would appear that the Hollywood-inspired headlines around a lot of Google updates can be taken with a pinch of salt. Naturally, it pays to be ready for these things, but a good agency with an understanding of SEO will be able to advise and prepare you for these.

Secondly, it’s clear that mobile is important, at least in Google’s eyes. This is probably because last year, mobile-internet access overtook desktop access for the first time and there’s no sign of that trend changing. This means web designers and SEO experts need to cater for the mobile screen or risk not just being penalised by Google, but irritating their users who can’t see their website properly.

Lastly, it’s worth remembering that, like Bruce Willis, Google wants what’s best for us (as much as a multinational technology company can). The changes and updates aren’t designed to destroy your website, but to make the experience for users as good as it can be. Did you ever try to look at online train timetables on a ‘smartphone’ circa 2010? Then you’ll know what I mean. Google is just trying to make the search universe better for us all, so we can live out our days in a dreamy online version of Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler’s asteroid free future.

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