What Was “Mobilegeddon,” and How Has Mobile Searched Changed Since?

What was “Mobilegeddon?”

Early in 2015, Google made two major announcements regarding changes being made to their search engine. These changes were being implemented in recognition of the growing trend towards mobile device usage for browser searches as discussed earlier. The primary concern that came out of this announcement was that proprietors of websites not optimized for mobile search would be subjected to significant declines in traffic. The date Google chose to execute these changes was April 21, 2015, a date which was quickly dubbed in the media and blogosphere as “mobilegeddon.”

  1. Google Introduces a “Mobile-Friendly” Labelling System

On November 18, 2014, Google announced that it was introducing a “mobile-friendly” label to search results conducted on mobile devices. The goal of the new label is to be a “first step” towards creating a better overall user experience on mobile phones and small screen devices.

Google determines if a page is eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

You can test whether your site meets Google’s criteria by using their analysis tool, visiting the following link.

  1. Mobile-Friendliness Gets Introduced into Google’s Search Ranking Algorithm

“When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps. As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns.”

On February 26, 2015, Google announced that the “mobile-friendly update” to their search engine’s algorithm will boost the rankings of “mobile-friendly pages,” defined as “pages that are legible and usable on mobile devices<’ and that “conversely, pages designed for only large screens may see a significant decrease in rankings in mobile search results.” Google made a point of noting that this will be a “Page-level change”: If ten of your site’s pages are mobile-friendly, but the rest of your pages aren’t, only the ten mobile-friendly pages can be positively impacted.

What is Considered Mobile Friendly? 

Google recognizes three different configurations as “mobile friendly.” You can move your content to any of the following set-ups and be covered under the new algorithm change:

  1. Responsive Design

Responsive design is Google’s #1 recommended design pattern. The reason responsive design is so desirable is that it doesn’t create two copies of the same site. Viewers only have one URL to go to and the website will adapt as they move from phone to tablet to desktop and beyond.

  1. Dynamic Serving

Like responsive design, a dynamic serving approach keeps the same URL — but this time, the HTML actually changes. Dynamic serving uses user-agents to identify what kind of device the viewer is using and then dynamically serves up the appropriate view.

  1. Mobile Website

Creating a separate mobile website was one of the earliest versions of mobile optimization, and it still works for Google’s requirements. Upon a new user arriving, this configuration tries to detect the users’ device, then redirects to the appropriate website using redirects.

Google definitively states that mobile-friendliness is assessed the same, regardless of whether you use responsive web design (RWD), separate mobile URLs (m.example.com), or dynamic serving for your configuration.

Jason Quintal | November 18, 2015

Leave a Reply