Google Mobile Update Hype – Do You Actually Need To Do Anything?

“This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results,” the company wrote on its blog. “Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
– Google Webmaster Central Blog

Google is about to launch an update to their mobile algorithm that specifically targets mobile-unfriendly websites. While they have announced that the update is coming, they haven’t given any clear indication on just how much of an impact it’s going to have; we know it’s going to be “significant”, but just how significant and for who?. There is a lot of speculation as to what this really means for businesses, should you really be doing anything?

First of all, check if you’re already green-lighted by Google

It’s simple, copy and paste your website address into Google’s “Mobile-Friendly Test” tool.

If you do, and there are no other reported issues, then you can sit back, feel smug and hope that your mobile traffic gets a nice kick next week.

The alternative is that you see something like this:

And given that the update is coming in a few days, there’s not a lot you can do. While most web designers will tell you you’re stuffed, or that you need to pay a premium in order to not lose business, I’m going to tell you that this update may be completely unnoticeable for you.

Check your data.

Remember that this update only affects mobile traffic, if you have no mobile traffic then you have nothing to worry about. So where can you find your mobile traffic volumes?

When looking at Google Analytics, go to Audience > Mobile > Overview and you’ll be able to see the makeup of your visits. In this instance, we’re pretty mobile heavy.

Given that roughly half of the traffic is coming from mobile this site should really be responsive ahead of April 21st. In fact in this instance the owner doesn’t have a mobile-friendly site, which could make for some pretty interesting data next week!

If your traffic looks similar to this then you may still not need to panic. Assuming you’ve got your tracking in place then you can use this same table to see what your conversion rates are like on mobile. If all of your leads and phonecalls (pat yourself on the back if you’re tracking calls) are through desktop, then the impact is going to be minimal again.

Are you optimistic?

You may know about his update, and you may know that you have an outdated site with no mobile design, but what do you care? “Nothing is going to happen anyway – all just a bunch of hype!”. And you’re probably not wrong; the headlines that you see on this topic are being pushed by marketers, a lot of them who are web designers where there’s a clear incentive to get people moving across to mobile. The reality is that no one knows what the impact will be.

What is known is that Google mobile search will increasingly offer the better mobile experiences at the top of the results. If you’re not fixing your user experience today then you should certainly start thinking about it tomorrow.