Google’s much-publicized #Mobilegeddon or #Mobilepocalypse algorithm update caused a big stir in the digital marketing world when it was first released in April 2015. The aim was to improve the browsing and search experience for the increasing numbers of mobile users who had, by that point, surpassed desktop users when it came to ecommerce searches.

The change resulted in mobile-friendly pages receiving a boost in search rankings done by mobile users but it only applied to individual pages rather than entire websites.

This past March, Google announced that it would be doubling-down on its efforts to “make the web more mobile friendly.” The now fully implemented algorithm change will now be boosting the search rankings of mobile-friendly websites across all devices. Furthermore, entire websites will now be evaluated, page-by-page.  So this means that sites that are still not optimized for mobile use will be penalized with a lower search rank.

Recap of the key differences between the 2015 and 2016 updates

2015 Update

  • Some websites saw a change in mobile traffic
  • Search result changes applied to mobile users only
  • Individual pages were evaluated on mobile-friendliness
2016 Update

  • Websites may see a change in traffic from all devices
  • Search result changes will apply to users of all devices
  • Entire websites will be evaluated on mobile-friendliness

What to do

  1. Test your website

If you’ve already made your website mobile-friendly, you’re probably fine. But if your website requires mobile users to zoom in and out in order to read content, your site is not mobile-friendly.  Google has a page that will test websites for mobile-friendliness. If you don’t pass, look into getting a mobile-friendly website as soon as possible.

  1. Update to a mobile site

If your website uses software packages with built-in themes and templates, they may already be mobile responsive or the software itself may have a mobile-friendly upgrade.  Google has a list of mobile-friendly website software guides here.

If you’re not using content management systems for your website, you may need to hire a developer to build a mobile version for your website. Google recommends opting for a responsive web design rather than a separate mobile website. Additionally, a responsive design will allow for your URLs and HTML to remain the same.

  1. Ensure the content itself is mobile-friendly

Having a mobile-friendly user interface is the first step. It is also important to have mobile-friendly content. Common mobile mistakes that some websites make include:

  • Unplayable content: Flash objects and some embedded video sources are not supported on all devices.
  • Interstitials and pop-ups: Interstitials are pages that are displayed before or after the expected content page. This can include advertisements and age confirmations pages. Proceeding past these pages can be difficult for mobile users. The same can be applied to pop-ups.
  • Broken links and redirects: If your mobile site utilizes separate mobile URLs, be sure to test your links to ensure they all work when browsing in mobile.
  • Slow loading pages: Slow loading pages can be frustrating to users and can cut into their monthly data usage.

Mobile is here to stay

Mobile traffic will continue to grow. Add to this Google’s algorithm updates and it’s clear that all websites need to be optimized for mobile to be successful. But remember that even when you’ve made all the necessary changes for this update, you can’t let up. You have to keep creating excellent content to continue to attract customers and maintain or improve your search ranking.