Don’t take the title as fear-mongering. I simply see the coming iceberg (because Google told us about it) and want to prepare all of you that might listen. And honestly, ‘Kind of Doomed’ didn’t have the same cache as the definitive ‘Doomed’. Indiana Jones and the Temple of [Kind of] Doom sounds just a bit less exciting, right?
For many years I have discussed the necessity of crafting a mobile friendly or responsive website. I was not alone in this but there were still companies that didn’t understand the importance. On April 21st, those companies will have their reckoning in the form of a likely significant decline to their website traffic. Why April 21st? That is the day Google has designated a new major ranking factor based purely on mobile friendliness will go into effect worldwide. You can read more about it here.
It is important to note how unusual Google’s preemptive (nearly 2 months before the update) message was to all webmasters that this would be done. Google rarely speaks directly about ranking factors and when they do discuss them, they usually say it will ‘only affect a small percentage’ or ‘have minimal impact’.
That is not the case with this announcement. In fact, they specifically write, “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.” [The bolding and underlining are mine].
Why are they being so specific? Because I believe there will be a HUGE drop in keyword rankings for companies that have a website that isn’t mobile friendly. How huge? My guess is you could see companies drop from the first page of results for a keyword phrase to the 3rd or 4th page. In other words, they will be deemed irrelevant. To be fair, Google says this will only happen when people are searching via their mobile devices. So the good/bad news is, it will only happen 50% of the time.
So what can be done? The easy answer is that if you have a website that isn’t mobile friendly/responsive, it is time to get it done. Unfortunately if you have a website that is purely HTML, Flash-based, Dreamweaver, numerous proprietary CMS’s, or any number of other combinations – you will likely need a complete re-design to have something even close to what your regular website looks like on a desktop. If you have a WordPress website, you can install a new responsive theme and begin working on customizing it or you can install a plugin that will at least make your existing content responsive (but it won’t look like your regular website).
If you need help getting your company’s website by April 21st, we can help.