On April 21st, 2015, Google rolled out updates to its website and page ranking algorithms to tip the scales more heavily in favor of mobile users. The reason for this is simple: Taken as an aggregate total, mobile and tablet users have far and away eclipsed PC and laptop users as the driving force in the modern Internet. 51% of all Internet usage comes from mobile devices, and users of mobile devices as a whole are more likely to fuel conversions than PC users. Google recently announced that it will be giving a “signal boost” to its more mobile-friendly search functions in May, a move that Klemen Kloboves of Google says will not affect sites and pages that are already optimized for the mobile Internet.
Kloboves also said that query intent would remain one of the driving factors in how Google ranks and delivers information, so even a page that isn’t mobile-optimized could very easily retain a higher page ranking as long as the information the page presents is relevant to the query string used to access it. While at first blush this may seem to send a signal that those who have not yet optimized their websites and pages for mobile consumption don’t have anything to worry about, Kloboves’s statements send a somewhat mixed message to webmasters and site administrators.
The Potential Chilling Effect
By assuring users who have already optimized their websites for mobile usage that they will not notice any difference from the signal boost, the underlying implication is that those sites that haven’t caught up to cross-platform optimization may be penalized with lower page ranks. The vagueness of Google’s assurances is very much typical of the Internet giant, which has been notoriously reticent about publicizing the KPIs by which its algorithms, including Penguin and Panda, rate, rank and present information to end users, mainly in efforts to prevent gaming the system by working around the intended functions of the algorithms. While the move sounds like a further refinement of the mobile-friendly algorithm tweaks initiated last year and not the “mobilegeddon” that many doomsayers suggested when the first iterations rolled out from Google, there is still reason for webmasters to be concerned.
Because of how the first iteration of the mobile-friendly algorithms was implemented, the implication is that Google is drilling down further into the Internet to favor cross-platform browsing, seeking out quality sites that either missed the first-round upgrades to mobile optimization or have largely been left out in the cold against larger, better-known sites with bigger production budgets but less user-centric information and offerings. The result may well be a shakeup in how page ranking across mobile devices and PC or laptop appear to users, as sites that are still not optimized may see their rankings suffer a significant drop.
Do I Need To Optimize My Site?
Google’s algorithms are heavily slanted toward delivering the best possible user experience. They take into account how websites present information, allow users to navigate within the site and the quality of the information and query matching as just a few of the criteria by which pages are ranked. With the signal boost and the implication that sites that remain unoptimized may be penalized with a lower page rank, there are only a couple of ways to resolve the quandary for most website owners.
The first and most obvious is to move to cross-platform optimization, if needed. Google offers an easy web tool that can tell you in seconds if your site is optimized or not. This will help ensure that current page rankings stay the same or improve when the signal boost rolls out, avoiding the obvious risk of penalties that may otherwise accrue from failing to do so. Second is to ensure that the site delivers real authority and value on its base topics for users. While the second should always be an ongoing process of improvement anyway, it becomes doubly important for web admins who are concerned about the time and expense that cross-platform optimization may require to achieve compliance. However, relying solely on content is a risky gamble, because of Google’s clearly expressed preference for mobile-optimized content.
Online Advantages can help you assess your site’s current performance and how it interacts with various platforms. We can also help you develop a responsive design optimization strategy that incorporates the latest mobile-friendly methodology and white-hat SEO tactics, giving your customers a better end experience and allowing your site the freedom to improve your site ranking naturally and organically. For more information on how the signal boost may impact your site, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (408) 645-7102. There’s no reason to risk your website’s ranking getting lost in the shuffle when the new algorithm updates roll out. Let Online Advantages show you how easy and affordable it can be to deliver a great cross-platform experience for your visitors, wherever they’re starting from!