Many Internet marketers remember February 2011 very clearly. It was when Google rolled out its Panda update, which instantly changed the way websites were ranked by the Internet search engine giant’s algorithm.
Will Googles latest update – that rolled out starting on April 21 – cause the same amount of angst and teeth-gnashing? Possibly.
Google is finally acknowledging that most people are accessing the web via their mobile devices – such as their phones, tablets and new iWatches – rather than on old-school laptops or (gasp!) PCs. It’s new algorithm, which doesn’t yet have a deceptively cute animal name the way Panda and Penguin did, is expected to radically change the way marketers search results by being more mobile-friendly.
A recent survey by the consulting group gShift found that a majority of marketers expect Google’s new algorithm to change their site’s page rankings. And about two-thirds of the online marketers polled said they already have taken steps to make their websites more mobile-friendly in anticipation of the update’s roll out.
The Rise of Mobile Web Access
It’s a testament to how quickly technologies can improve that the majority of web users now use mobile devices to access their favorite web pages and apps. Increased bandwidth, exponential expansion of memory and data processing, and near-universal WiFi has made mobile the way to go for most Internet users.
Only a few years ago – perhaps not coincidentally when Google was rolling out its Panda update – it was unthinkable for most people to stream their favorite TV shows or play multi-player games from their phones while on the go. But today, it’s as common as having a cup of coffee in the morning or chatting about “Game of Thrones” over the water cooler.
Who the Update Will Effect
About a third of website owners polled by gShift said they get between 11% and 50% of their traffic from mobile devices, and that’s probably on the low site. Another study conducted by the mobile commerce platform Branding Brand found that 43% of all traffic to major retailers comes from smart phones and tablets.
If you have taken steps to make your web page more mobile-friendly in recent months, you’re not alone. An estimated 68% of marketers surveyed by gShift said they have made the move to mobile-centric web pages.
And it makes perfect sense. Digital marketers understand how important it is to provide page visitors with websites that are optimized for the devices they are using to land on them. Having a well-defined mobile strategy today is as important as SEO and link-building were prior to Panda and Penguin: It was simply something that you had to do in order to be successful. Not doing it was unthinkable.
Top Secret Algorithm Update
While Google, as usual, is remaining tight-lipped about what its new algorithm will look like, there are some clues if you know where to look.
For example, in March Zineb Ait Bahajji, a member of Google’s Webmaster Trends team, hinted that the new update will have a more profound impact on search results than either of the previous “Big Two” updates did.
While Panda weeded out websites with poor quality content and Penguin, which came in 2012, penalized sites that used backlinks and other artificial means to boost rankings, the latest Google algorithm update is anticipated to value pages that are most optimized for mobile users.
So if you haven’t already converted your web pages so that they are mobile-friendly, there isn’t much time left. You don’t want to wake up to discover that your top-ranking web pages are now nowhere to be found.