It has been four years since the update known as Mobilegeddon was released, which Google uses to select the websites developed to be mobile-friendly. More than 75% of searches are done with mobile devices, and those who didn’t get the update might have noticed a significant drop in traffic on their websites.
Soon after this significant change, the SEO’s around the world have faced a new challenge: Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
Thousands of words have been wasted on the matter, but so far, I haven’t found any valid analysis on the subject.
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The Birth of Mobilegeddon As a New Google Algorithm
On April 21st, 2015, web developers from all over the world witnessed the birth of the long-awaited and feared Google Mobilegeddon algorithm. Needless to say, the name comes from the famous and wonderful movie Armageddon, and if you have never seen it, I encourage you to watch it as soon as possible.
We have already heard of this update after seeing mobile-friendly wording which appeared on the sidebar along with the mobile-optimized search results and, for several months, remained as a warning, which nobody had taken seriously until “yesterday”.
You have to know that Google isn’t the only one hunting websites adapted for mobile devices, even Bing from Microsoft quickly moves in that direction as well, so it doesn’t become outdated, and all major online search systems will do it too.
On May 5th, 2015, Google announced that in 10 countries around the world mobile search has exceeded PC search and explained that the increase in mobile searches “represents an extraordinary marketing opportunity, as it allows people to communicate through new points of contact”. Therefore, modulation of campaigns at the device level becomes essential.
That’s the reason for all major Internet sites to adapt their content and form to meet the requirements of the market and Big G and avoid a significant decrease in traffic.
Mobile (-friendly) Ranking Factors
Many people wonder about the importance of a mobile-friendly website and far less about the existence of other factors that may influence Mobilegeddon.
Luckily, I’ve spent multiple days analyzing the results of the research and consulted with other SEO experts, so I can answer your questions.
A brief list:
Of course, optimization of the graphics template is, as expected, the most important factor but there are several other factors that shouldn’t be underestimated.
- Availability of an App
I have noticed that the websites that allow the use of a special app together with this update have an advantage. Often, the forums with particular functions are difficult to navigate on mobile, so they require an application in addition to the mobile version. Think of Adwords which has a separate mobile app for download. Google itself announced in February that this is a ranking factor of the logged users who have a corresponding Android app installed.
- Mobile font readability
The ranking of Mobile characters is also an important factor. If we assume that one of two people uses a mobile search, we instinctively think of the importance of the text readability on smartphones and tablets. The size of an SMS is usually the most suitable and has been proven to be the best size in terms of readability and speed of reading.
Before, the user-friendly factor that includes multiple sub-factors was considered and developed only for the desktop version of the websites. Often, or rather always, you have a website in two versions and not both of them are equally user-friendly. Often, a person used to browsing on PC can’t find all the menus and settings as they can’t be displayed as effectively on a mobile layout. A website shouldn’t require pinch-to-zoom.
- Images optimized for mobile
Another vital factor that shouldn’t be overlooked is the optimization of images and videos to fit mobile resolution. This feature isn’t always particularly beneficial, but for e-Commerce or essentially all the websites containing lots of photos, it can give a significant boost. The loading speed on a mobile device is certainly lower than on PC, and often too “heavy” websites are not visited as much due to the enormous amount of GB use, which is a part of the connection for data transmission. Therefore, Google decided to update especially for the mobile version, considering the “heaviness” of the pages in relation to the content. Moreover, any text in the images should be easily readable on mobile as well.
- Presence of non-Mobile-Friendly parts or pages
Mobilegeddon scans the entire website even in the mobile version and identifies any popups, codes, parts of the site or non-mobile-friendly pages and eventually assigns a minor or zero-score to the pages that don’t meet all the criteria. Surely, the internal and external link building is affected by this update.
- Mobile Link building
As mentioned before, a powerful link building strategy needs external and internal links from websites with a well optimized mobile theme. It would be clear from the bad experience a user would have on a website optimized for mobile but from which the link would redirect them to another site or a non-optimized page.
- Distance between links
Another significant change is the distance between the links, which should be just right to allow a user to “click” them easily. In other words, if you have links that are too close to each other or too short, you may confuse the reader, or they will click the one they are not interested in.
- Inappropriate content
Some contents, such as flash, worsen the mobile display.
- Phone numbers and clickable addresses.
Mobilegeddon and Mobile-friendly: Responsive vs Adaptive vs Mobile Version vs App
After studying and identifying the new positioning factors, I wondered if all mobile-friendly sites were equally favored, or if there was some sort of preference or unevenness.
Theoretically, various options are all on the same level as they provide an excellent experience to the end user. However, as we know, the reality isn’t always the same as theory.
My research has led me to some conclusions that could, however, change over the next months.
- Mobile version
The mobile version designed precisely for the mobile devices is often found with the URL of the type m.website.com.
It’s certainly the oldest type of optimization and often, can be found on the sites with very high traffic, such as porn websites.
The mobile version is, virtually, a separate website in comparison to the PC version and in the past, it has brought some significant advantages especially at the level of range and optimization.
However, this version isn’t the most suitable option for the low-traffic websites as there are other more preferable options.
- App version
Many websites such as some forums or Adwords itself, don’t have a mobile version because all the features would be lost on a small screen.
This version is quite recent and recommended only and exclusively for the websites with the same requirements.
So, there are only two real options left: responsive or adaptive.
In this case, Google informs that it prefers both options:
It is a unique design template, the visualization of which depends on a specific CSS code to modify the display of the website depending on the device that displays it.
In other words, whether you are on a PC or on mobile, the code is the same, but not the display.
Google recommends using this kind of design because it’s mainly simpler and more intuitive for the crawler side.
In the adaptive version, the server picks up and preloads the optimized version designed for the particular device that will run it. The dynamic source displays a different code for each device but under the same URL. Google also recommends this way which is more user-friendly but certainly more difficult to carry out. In general, I would recommend a template and a CMS that use responsive themes like WordPress since they are easier to manage.
How Important Is the Google Mobilegeddon Update that Appeals to Mobile-friendly?
Unlike other Google updates, which penalized inappropriate strategies such as link building, Mobilegeddon doesn’t penalize non-mobile-friendly sites but favors sites with a version optimized for mobile.
If it’s unclear, let me explain better.
Until now, almost all the changes in the Big G algorithm were due to many SEOs using techniques that weren’t entirely appropriate to position a website in the best possible way. Therefore, very often, they willingly penalized these inappropriate actions by compromising their visibility. The lack of a mobile version isn’t an inappropriate action, only neglecting the needs of the users, so a penalty isn’t necessary.
Mobilegeddon is the only update published by Google based on the needs of visitors, not on inappropriate actions, so its effectiveness will gradually be noticed over time.
My own deep conviction is that approval of mobile-friendly websites is a strategy that will lead to the disappearance, over time, of all the websites that won’t adapt to the new requirements and will become the beginning of the new era of Google and other major search systems, like it or not.
How to Deal with Mobilegeddon on WordPress in the Best Way
Many of you probably wonder if there are any precautions you should take to use Mobilegeddon to the full extent.
The answer is yes.
First of all, if you don’t already have one, you need a graphic design of the responsive mobile website and to choose an optimized WordPress hosting to reduce loading time on smartphones.
It is also essential to optimize the code of your website.
Is that it? Not exactly…
Even with an excellent hosting and optimized code, you might have particularly heavy pages that could compromise the positioning of your website over time.
Therefore, we need some useful tools to reduce and optimize the images.
Another vital element I recommend to speed up the mobile website is a premium CDN such as Cloudflare, even though it’s paid, but it is available in a free version.
But what advantages does the Plus version have over a free version?
Polish: Uses two levels of image compression reducing the dimensions of it and speeding up the upload.
Mirage: It boosts the speed of your website even more by reducing the images according to the resolution and size of the device from which the user is visiting the site and uploading an image only if the user gets to the part where it’s actually displayed.
SPDY: is a protocol that binds HTTP within it to reduce the latency of web pages. The transmissions are encrypted with SSL and compressed in gzip (unlike HTTP, the headers are also compressed).
The combination of these three features enhances the speed of your website further on and, therefore, can improve the positioning of your website over time.
AMP: Everything You Need to Know About Accelerated Mobile Pages
On October 7th, 2015, Google released AMP, a new open-source standard for fast loading of mobile web pages.
You should know that responsive templates are usually heavy for mobile devices because they contain useless and worthless information on a smartphone or tablet.
On the other hand, the adaptive versions, as well as purely mobile websites, are not so simple to develop.
Therefore, Google decided to solve this problem and allow the news websites to provide the content in an ultra-optimized way by letting Google operate their cache-page without actually leaving the search engine, but with some restrictions.
Websites in AMP:
- AMP obliges you to use simplified CSS versions.
- HTML must be optimized for AMP.
The websites that benefit most from AMP are news sites, websites that produce content frequently, but not all that glitters is gold.
AMP could also negatively affect your conversion rate!
So if you’d like a piece of advice, think twice before throwing yourself into something that might not be as good as you thought.