Last week, Google announced a sweeping change in the way it ranks websites. The new algorithm, which was released on April 21, is specifically designed to improve mobile search by giving more weightage to mobile-friendly web pages than non-mobile friendly webpages. What this means is that if your website is not mobile optimized; this could be characterized by font size, buttons being too close together and a number of other factors, your search ranking will suffer significantly. Google has stated, in no uncertain terms, that a page is “either mobile-friendly or not”; there are no grey areas and no degrees of ‘friendliness’.
The update was considered important enough to merit its own moniker—Mobilegeddon. One week down the line, there has not been a significant upheaval in the world of mobile internet and some commentators have already started calling it a damp squib. However, SEO experts caution that the impact of Mobilegeddon might not be visible immediately. Even Google has said that the entire process will take about a week to complete globally, so we are not out of the woods yet.
Chetan Asher, Founder & CEO of Tonic Media said, “The way I see it, around 60-70 per cent of websites in India would probably not be mobile-friendly. This is now changing but (with Mobilegeddon) maybe by next month we will start saying a major impact (on rankings).”
Mobile has become one of the most significant mediums in India. The emergence of e-commerce players and other companies whose business is primarily on the internet means that the top 40-50 visited websites in the country can safely be assumed to be mobile-optimized, but it is the long tail that encompasses small and mid-sized entities that might face the brunt of the change.
Says Benedict Hayes, VP and Head (strategy), “60 per cent of all internet traffic is from mobile but nearly 80 per cent of content is desktop focussed. What Google is going to do is make the best fit. We have not seen anything drastic so far but this will change in the weeks to come.”
Globally, most of the top publishers, including Google, are seeing more and more traffic being driven via mobile. It is understandable that a company like Google which depends on ad revenues would want people to take the mobile seriously so as to provide the best experience to its advertisers, opines Shamsuddin Jasani, MD of Isobar India.
According to him, approximately 30 per cent weightage is being attached to this factor (mobile optimization). When asked whether clients are attaching importance to creating mobile-friendly websites, Jasani said that a change in mindset is definitely taking place, “Even traditional brands are understanding the value of mobile optimization. It is actually becoming easier to sell on mobile than desktop. Since people are so much into mobile themselves right now, they are continuously thinking around it.”