Earlier this year, Google announced that it would begin using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on April 21, 2015.

"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."

That created an imperative for website owners: address mobile experience, or else. 

April 21 is just a week away and because of the potential impact Google's change could have, the date is now being referred to as Mobilegeddon.

The name appears to be apt. Kevin Lee, executive chairman of search marketing firm Didit, tested a variety of websites using Google's Mobile-Friendly Test page and the results indicate that many companies are ill-prepared for the possibility that Google will be evaluating their sites for mobile-friendliness.

According to Lee, more than 40% of the websites of the largest PR agencies in the United States passed Google's test. New York agencies fared better, but just over 25% of their websites still fell short of Google's expectations.

That generally mirrors the S&P 100, where a quarter of websites also failed. Amongst the groups Lee looked at, large cap companies on Long Island and top-rated New York hospitals fared the worst.

Only 21% and 40% of their sites, respectively, passed Google's test, suggesting that outside of large enterprises and tech-savvy industries, a large number of sites are probably vulnerable.

Time to panic?

Bryson Meunier, SEO director at Vivid Seats, offers a number of suggestions for companies that want to escape Mobilegeddon's wrath and create better mobile experiences. Amongst them: focus on page speed and deep linking. He also recommends that companies revisit the notion that mobile experiences should be additive rather than reductive.

As Meunier states "it’s not enough to make mobile experiences as good as desktop experiences anymore. We can and should make them better."

Of course, April 21 is right around the corner, which doesn't leave companies with the least mobile-friendly websites much time to make corrections. But if there's a silver lining in any Mobilegeddon carnage that occurs, it's this: companies that don't offer quality mobile experiences are already losing out.

Google's addition of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal could hurt the rankings of companies that have procrastinated about mobile, but it's important to keep in mind that those companies are probably already suffering from poor engagement and conversions on mobile anyway.

If Google can encourage these companies to create better experiences by cutting off the flow of users that they're not serving well anyway, Mobilegeddon could be a very good thing for everyone.

For practical advice on mobile web design, download our Mobile Web Design and Development Best Practice Guide.

Patricio Robles

Published 13 April, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)

Richard Hussey

Richard Hussey, Owner at RSH Copywriting

I have a feeling that many businesses are in for a nasty shock. You quite rightly make the point too that there is so much more to this than just making your site responsive. This just gets you through the door in mobile searches. The user experience and the value of the content will then decide where you actually rank. And anyone who thinks that this is a one off fix is seriously deluded.

over 2 years ago

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