The Rocket Blog

Did Mobilegeddon smash your website? Google has changed the rules. Find out if your website will survive the new algorithm. 

Mobilegeddon 101: A Post-Apocalypse Survival Guide for Your Website

Batten the hatches, call out the guards, the end of the (tech) world is near!

Well, not really...but close. The April 21st deadline for the Google algorithm change infamously nicknamed ‘Mobilegeddon’ has passed, but we’re all still online and functioning. While the world hasn’t ended (as far as we can tell), a sharp decline in website traffic could be the next worst thing for unprepared businesses with websites that Google determines to be ‘mobile-unfriendly’ in a decidedly ‘mobile-friendly’ social norm.

Increased mobile internet access

According to the most recent internet usage statistics study compiled by the Pew Research Center, 57% of all American adults are mobile internet users. All it takes is simple observation in restaurants, public places - basically anywhere you go - to see that internet access via smartphone has doubled since 2009. In fact, some analysts suggest that by 2017, around 2.97 billion users are expected to use the internet via their phones. For those of you who prefer statistics like we do, that’s around 91% of total internet users and 58% of mobile phone users.

Added to that, Pew Research Center found that over a third of mobile internet users (34%) mostly use their phone to access the internet, as opposed to other devices like a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer. When you see all those folks out in public buried in their smartphones, you can rest assured that they’re either on social media, or accessing the internet for some other service like banking or shopping.

These statistics show a clear trend in increased mobile internet access, particularly on smartphones.  They also paint a clear picture of the near future - a future in which the smartphone will likely become the primary method most people use to get online.  

Google’s smartphone focus

With these statistics to consider, Google’s focus on website usability for smartphones makes perfect, logical sense. In fact, the new search algorithm will only affect search result rankings on smartphone search queries, leaving search results via PC, laptop, or other mobile device unaffected.  Before you breathe a sigh of relief, though, keep in mind that with a projected 91% of internet users accessing the internet via smartphones by 2017,  having a “mobile unfriendly” website will have negative implications for your website’s traffic. 


Don’t say you haven’t been warned

In an historically unprecedented move to provide details about algorithm changes, Google gave webmasters and businesses several months to prepare for the changes that Mobilegeddon would bring.  Basically, a website that wasn’t mobile friendly would be penalized after the deadline, giving more mobile-friendly sites top ranking in organic search results.  Why did Google do this?  Well, let’s just say that they understood the present and future of mobile internet usage.  

Maybe we’re just overreacting?

So why all the panic?  It’s just a bunch of internet marketing researchers hypothesizing, right?  No, not exactly.  Google is the search engine of choice for most internet users, so any algorithm change in Google will have significant effects for many companies’ bottom line. This is true of any company, but especially true if a company is highly dependant on search engine ranking to draw business. For example, in 2011, another significant algorithm change initiated by Google was estimated to cost $1 billion in annual revenue for companies that were heavily dependent on internet traffic for profit. So yeah, kind of a big deal.

Okay, I’m convinced, but does my website pass the test?

Although the April 21st deadline has officially passed, the good news is that there is no better time than the present to ensure that your website passes the new Google algorithm test.  Here are some of the key factors the “Googlebots” will analyze to determine a website’s mobile friendliness:

  • Does the website contain Flash, or other similar programs that are not on most mobile phones?

  • Can a visitor read and view the content without zooming or scrolling horizontally?

  • Are links and navigational buttons placed far enough apart so the correct one can be easily tapped on a smartphone?

Is Your Website Mobile Ready?

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