What You Need To Know About Google’s April 21st Algorithm Change

     Google is that parent who when we ask, “Why,” answers, “Because I said so.” It makes you want to throw your peas across the table but at the same time you begrudgingly know they know what’s good for you. At least this time we get a head’s up instead of being left wondering why our carefully set up balance no longer works with Google’s algorithm.

     Starting April 21st Google will now use your website’s mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. (The official announcement is here.) "This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results." In fact, they’ve already started using more indexed content from apps in search results…don’t panic. Stay with me. To break it down, with the current system if a site is #1 on desktop, it's likely to be #1 on mobile. After April 21st, this may no longer be the case.

     We have to face it, mobile is very quickly becoming society’s main search tool. Sometimes I sit and watch my kids run around the house with a loose cord dangling from their clenched fists trying to find a USB/AC plug with as much desperation as a drug addict.  I feel like Jane Goodall observing a new breed of humanity. Is someone already working on a cure for the inevitable early onset of arthritis of the thumbs? Will we eventually evolve into having appendages optimal for speed texting? Is the fate of proper grammar and spelling totes adbb? Very valid questions. 

      But admit it for yourself, mobile search is going to rise substantially in the next few months and years. You see it already, it’s no longer a newspaper you run around looking for before going to the bathroom. When you wake up in the middle of the night you don’t grab a book, you grab your phone. I mean, the other day I left my house without my phone and now I know what it’s like to loose a child.

     So choke back those tears, take a deep breath, and check your website to see if it fits the new mobile algorithm.

1. Google has provided a mobile-friendly testing tool. What we know now is that it seems mobile-friendliness will be on a page-by-page basis. Pages that are mobile-friendly should currently show the "Mobile-friendly" label on mobile searches (this does not appear on desktop searches). This tool looks at the page the way a Googlebot would.

 2. Also check your site through Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. This tool fetches a page as a user would and shows you how fast your site’s page loads and it even gives you recommendations on things to fix.

 3. Google will be updating statuses real time so don’t panic, it’s not a one chance or you blow it thing.

 4. “Mobilegeddon”, as it’s being called, actually may not be urgent for you. Most experts suggest you evaluate for yourself based on the realities of your business. Within Google Analytics, you can quickly get a sense of the overall mobile traffic to your site by navigating to Audience > Mobile > Overview and looking at the breakdown of desktop / mobile / tablet. But, for the change on the 21st, we want to know about search traffic, so we’ll need to use an advanced segment to look only at organic traffic. To do this, click on “All Sessions” from the advanced segments drop down, and click “Organic Traffic” to look at the breakdown (and raw impact) for your organic traffic.

 5. The mobile update will be different for you depending on if most of your mobile traffic is branded coming to your homepage versus location-specific listings that end up on landing pages. You can get a more granular idea of what traffic is actually at risk by drilling down to look at the mobile organic traffic coming to your site by page. This article has very clear instructions on how to do this.

      Now that you’ve determined if you want to act to beat the April 21st deadline or not, here are your choices:

 ·      The easiest way and the only way to ensure you get to watch your your DVRed shows between now and the 21st is to hire whomever you need, regardless of cost, to implement the changes.

·      Plug your ears, shut your eyes and say, “I don’t wanna,” over and over.

·      Or just use Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool and treat the suggestions as your To-Do list.

     Gone are the days of idly sitting somewhere during a delay. Mobile phones are the reason why now it’s perfectly normal to see adults in expensive suits criss-cross applesauce on the floor of an airport huddled around skinny cords reaching to coveted wall outlets like a lifeline to survival. They’re also currently, and will increasingly be, a source of income for your business. So, treat them that way. Embrace the change. Eat your peas because they’re good for you. 

Stacy Brocker is an entrepreneur, people motivator, and online marketing specialist. She loves helping businesses be successful and reach their goals; this literally means helping dreams come true, which makes her feel like her job is something out of Disney. She is also a Certified Interpreter for the Deaf and accomplished Artist. But her greatest achievement is being a mother to five amazing kids.