Perhaps the largest announcement made by Google to affect the search rankings of websites since the initial Panda & Penguin updates, starting on April 21st, 2015 having a mobile-friendly website was not only highly recommended but required. The announcement was dubbed “Mobilegeddon” by many in the SEO community as internet marketers had to scramble in approximately only a month’s time to prepare all of their client’s websites (that didn’t already have a mobile-friendly format) for the update. As of April 21st Google said, in no uncertain terms, that not having a mobile website would significantly hurt your website’s search rankings.
The announcement itself wasn’t as much of a surprise as the bluntness with which Google made such an announcement. Google has been known to release the majority of their updates with either a whisper or no hint at all, leaving SEOs and other analysts to only realize after the fact when they correlate statistically significant numbers of client analytics accounts together to see decreases in traffic occur at the same time. The reason the announcement wasn’t surprising is because user-experience has, for as long as current SEO practices have existed in the fast-changing internet marketing landscape, been at the forefront of how Google determines search rankings.
For instance, the old axiom was always “content is king” and that still remains very true to this day. However, content can be grouped with other user-experience related practices as being “king” because good content is essential to matching keyword queries with pages in search results. When all is said and done, Google is in the business of selling advertising. One of their largest and most successful offerings is Pay Per Click advertising directly above and to the right of search engine results. Therefore, users themselves have always been Google’s primary product – sold to businesses in groups based on demographic information. This isn’t a bad thing as it’s allowed Google to continue to provide a huge amount of terrific services for free to the general consumer and other services, like Google Apps, with huge feature-sets to businesses at a low cost.
But when thinking about Google’s business model logically, it stands to reason that they’d always want to serve the best possible results to users. Better results mean users can be more confident in Google’s search engine, versus their competitors, to serve up the information they’re looking for. Confidence from the general public means an increased market share. And an increased market share ultimately means a larger inventory of users that Google can serve up to advertisers.
That all being said, if you’re reading this blog and you haven’t yet updated your website to include a mobile presence, you’re definitely late to the game but not too late. It’s important you don’t get left behind by your competitors. Google will most definitely begin moving non-mobile friendly websites down the SERPs in favor of sites that better serve the interest and needs of the consumers querying their search engine. After all, Google has outright promised they’d be doing this and when considering this within the lens of Google’s business model, it makes perfect sense.