News and Events

    Will Google's New Mobile Requirements Impact Your Traffic?


    You may have heard about Google’s recent change to its mobile search ranking algorithm that took effect on April 21st.
    We’ve received many questions from Clients concerned about the impact of the update on their organic traffic and Google search presence. We’ve also heard that several Clients have been contacted by 3rd parties with predatory and expensive offers for services such as mobile audits, advertising false information about the scale of these updates.

    In order to better guide you through this transition period, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the most frequently asked questions and concerns.

    What exactly is Google changing in its algorithm?

    i. Starting April 21st Google expanded its use of mobile friendliness as a factor in its ranking algorithms. In order to improve user experience on mobile devices, Google is making it easier to find mobile-friendly websites. This effectively means that mobile friendly websites should start noticing boosts in the mobile ranking.

    ii. Google has also introduced app indexing with this new update. Also effective April 21st, mobile users with indexed apps may notice app content more prominently displayed in search results.

    Will the update affect my desktop traffic?

    i. Google has clearly stated that the update is limited to mobile search algorithms. The update should not affect any search result rankings on desktops.

    ii. Although this particular change does not affect desktop traffic, mobile friendliness has long been a ranking signal in Google’s general ranking algorithm.

    Will my organic traffic be affected?

    i. It depends! You will need to review your website traffic breakdown by device; this is information you can easily find on your Google Analytics (or any other analytics platforms you use). Some websites generate more mobile traffic than others. If mobile visits only represent a small percentage of your organic search traffic than the impact of the update may be negligible. If mobile represents a significant portion of your Google search traffic than your website will likely experience a more notable impact.

    Will I notice the change in traffic right away?

    i. Although the update was officially released on April 21st, 2015, it will likely take 1-2 weeks to roll out across all searches globally.

    My website is in French, will it be affected as well?

    i. Yes. The change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide.

    Should we redesign our website to be mobile friendly?

    i. We do recommend this. Mobile search traffic has experienced consistent growth in almost every vertical each year. How and when you should optimize your website for mobile will depend on your business goals, existing website traffic, and budget.

    I have an “m.” mobile website, is this okay?

    i. While officially, “m.” mobile websites or mobile sub-domains are recognized by search engines, search engines find responsive design content easier to index. Ideally your entire website content should be mobile friendly, rather than specific pages or tools. In the long term, maintaining duplicate content across “m.” and desktop websites is time consuming and challenging to optimize for search engines. For more information on responsive web design visit the Google Developer resource.

    Can I test if my site is mobile friendly?

    i. Yes. Try Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test on a few pages to do a quick analysis. For more detailed insights and a full list of mobile usability issues, you can use Mobile Usability Report.

    I don’t have the budget for a complete website redesign, is there anything I can do?

    i. Absolutely. Although your websites layout is crucial to a user’s mobile experience, there are many other factors that influence mobile friendliness. These include website speed, image size, navigation, sitemaps and more. 

    I’m concerned I will lose critical website traffic, what should I do?

    i. Cornerstone can help your marketing and web development teams execute the several free and low cost mobile audits of your site. Based on the results of the analysis, Cornerstone can help you identify critical or key usability issues on your site. We will then provide detailed recommendations for your development team to ensure your website is mobile optimized for the present and future. You may also want to consider retaining Cornerstone’s SEO services for ongoing site monitoring and optimization.

    To learn more about Google Search's new mobile algorithm update, visit their official release post.

    To learn more about how Cornerstone can help you navigate your SEO contact Don Lange, Senior VP of Digital Marketing

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