Imagine that you built up your pizza parlor to the point it became considered one of the best in town. Great reviews on Yelp, Urbanspoon and even mentions on TripAdvisor. An accrual of goodwill to the level that despite your small size and business card type website, a Google search of “Best pizza in town” places you in the top 3 results.
And then one day, a patron tells you something disturbing. When they Googled for pizza parlors on their smartphone, they were surprised you didn’t appear in the search results they scrolled through. You duck into the office and do a search on the desktop and your website is the top result. To double check though, you ask the delivery guy to Google it on his smartphone and sure enough you’re nowhere to be found.
What’s going on? Well, your small business website, along with a multitude of others, has become a casualty of what the search engine optimization community has called “Googlegeddon”, “Mobilegeddon” and the “Google Mobile Apocalypse”. To be more precise, a recent change in Google’s algorithms whereby websites that aren’t mobile friendly will be ranked lower in searches done on mobile devices.
Some in the general public have mischaracterized this as a “Google Penalty” situation. But that’s being a bit too loose with the terminology. A true manual penalty situation is where Google affirmatively de-indexes all or part of your website or discounts incoming links to it. Usually that is a result of “black hat” SEO tactics such as buying links from a “link farm”.
A more accurate description of Googlegeddon is that Google’s algorithms are penalizing websites that aren’t responsively designed to be mobile friendly. And the reason that penalty type language is employed is since Google is indeed trying to shape behavior by using the proverbial “stick” instead of a “carrot”. Some brief background is helpful to understand what is going on.
First, one needs to keep in mind the core of Google’s Search business. Why has Google become a verb as well as a noun? Its because their business is to provide users with the most accurate, up to date and relevant search results when they “Google” something. And as a consequence of having THE search engine, it can charge businesses accordingly for advertising for access to all of those searching eyeballs.
The other item to consider is that in early 2014, Internet usage on mobile devices exceeded that of desktop for the first time. And in that same year, Matt Cutts of Google commented that he wouldn’t be surprised if mobile queries exceeded those via desktop by the end of the year. Bottom line is that Google is well aware of the fact that they need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to mobile search.
In reality, signs from Google regarding the need for websites to be responsively designed and mobile friendly began in 2014 (when they launched a tool to verify mobile friendly design) and in January 2015 (when it became apparent that Google algorithms began to heavily factor it in to search result rankings). It was pretty much inevitable that the stick of Googlegeddon would eventually follow those helpful carrots from Google.
And so in February of 2015 Google announced that mobile ranking factors would go beyond merely labeling a website as mobile friendly (which its “mobile ranking demotion” algorithm had been doing since 2013). An April 21, 2015 deadline date was set for when Google algorithms would also determine just how high a website would rank regarding searches via mobile devices. And Google indicated the stick would be a big one since the changes would have “significant impact” on mobile search results worldwide.
In a realm where the SEO community usually has to engage in a bit of sleuthing to determine the when and what to do about Google algorithmic tweaks (e.g., “Hummingbird”, “Panda”, “Penguin” etc.), the message was clear. Websites needed to be responsively designed to a certain level of mobile friendliness or else they would be relegated to the deepest depth of mobile search result rankings.
What Google aims to avoid is a mobile device search for “Best pizza in town” that brings the user to a site requiring them to spend time fiddling with their mobile display just to find a number that they then have to manually punch in. They understand that mobile users expect better search results and if Google doesn’t deliver them, other search engines will.
That is why a pizza parlor not only has to serve the best pizza in town, but also serve up a website that is appetizing to its patrons’ smartphones. Otherwise, another place with inferior pizza but a responsively designed and mobile friendly website will garner the online reputation for the best pizza in town. And as has become apparent to even least online savvy among us, online perception is reality nowadays.
You can check out whether your small business website has been impacted by Googlegeddon via Googles “Mobile Friendly tool”. LAD Solutions has a team of website development and design experts that can assist in ensuring that your website is responsively designed and mobile friendly. To learn more about our website development services please call (888) 523-2926, or click the button below to submit your request, and one of our representatives will be in touch with you shortly!