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Mobilegeddon Is Here: How to Tell If You’ve Been Hit

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articleimage1115 How to Tell If You've Been Hi

For weeks, we’ve been hearing about “Mobilegeddon,” the April 21st Google update purportedly designed to punish tens of thousands of sites that haven’t yet optimized their designs for mobile users. Google takes mobile user experience very seriously, and the announcement of this update was validation for all the webmasters out there who toiled to ensure a great user experience regardless of what kind of device was used to access their sites.

Webmasters who hadn’t optimized their sites for mobile, on the other hand, scrambled to make their websites comply by that all-too-important April 21st deadline. That is, of course, ignoring the webmasters who never heard about the update and those who opted to delay optimizing for mobile yet again.

So now that mobilegeddon has come and gone, how much impact did it really have, and if you’ve gotten hit, how do you go about getting your ranks back to normal?

The Impact of Mobilegeddon

articleimage1115 The Impact of Mobilegeddon

First, I’ll say this: mobilegeddon was overblown. Lots of search marketers out there are sensationalists, and decided to overinflate the projected impact of the update for the purposes of generating extra attention. The reality is that mobilegeddon was never intended to be a search engine update of apocalyptic scale. Yes, it was designed to weed out some of the lagging companies whose sites have not been optimized for mobile, but beyond that, it wasn’t going to do much.

That being said, if you’ve optimized your site for mobile and tested it using Google’s free tool, nothing happened to you. Well, you might have climbed a rank or two for a handful of queries, but nothing bad or major happened to you.

Still, there was some major fallout across the web as mobilegeddontook root.

Major Sites Gaining Traction

articleimage1115 Major Sites Gaining Traction

Already, there are a handful of sites that have gained significant visibility as a result of passing Google’s mobile-friendly test better than the competition. TV Tropes, a popular resource for writers and pop culture enthusiasts, gained ranks in several areas. The websites for Entertainment Tonight, Foreign Affairs, JCPenny, and science/technology magazine WIRED also gained visibility.

Major Sites Losing Ground

The most significant amount of rank and visibility lost was for news and social site Reddit—because their home page and several of their internal pages tested as not mobile-friendly, the entire site lost major ground. Other major players that lost significant ranks due to being unprepared for the update include NBC Sports, Vogue, SongLyrics and Bloomberg Business.

It’s important to remember that the mobilegeddon update was not released on a sliding scale. There wasn’t a qualitative evaluation of mobile-friendliness like there is with onsite content or offsite links. Instead, it is an objective “yes or no” type of determination. For example, your site can’t be determined to be “kind of” optimized for mobile; it either is optimized for mobile, or it is not, and if it is not, it’s definitely gotten hit by the penalty.

How to Tell If You’re Hit

articleimage1115 How to Tell If You’re Hit

If you’re curious as to whether or not your site has been hit by the mobilegeddon update, simply check your rankings. Take a sample size of about 10 keywords or phrases—hopefully you know where you stood before the update—and compare your previous rankings to where you rank right now. If you’ve dropped off the map for any of them, you’ve likely been hit by the new algorithm. If you are in the same relative position or higher, you have nothing to worry about. You’ve officially survived mobilegeddon—but you probably already suspected that.

What to Do If You’ve Been Hit

articleimage1115 What to Do If You’ve Been Hit

Let’s say you have gotten hit. Your rankings have plummeted and now you need to start the recovery process.

There’s only one reason why you’ve been hit with this update: your site wasn’t optimized for mobile. Does this mean you’ll never have a chance at ranking high again? Absolutely not. Google is strict when it comes to evaluating domain authority, but it’s also very forgiving. If you optimize your site for mobile, there’s no reason why your rankings can’t be restored to normal within just a few months.

That being said, there are a variety of options for you to optimize your site for mobile:

  • You can use a responsive design (or a responsive template) to ensure your website will automatically expand and contract based on the parameters of the device being used to access it.
  • You can create a separate instance of your site, designed specifically for mobile, and host it separately so that mobile users have a full experience when accessing your domain.
  • You can create an alternate version of your website for mobile, and use device detection to toggle between the two versions of your site based on the device accessing it.

Google doesn’t care how you optimize your site for mobile, as long as you’ve fully optimized it. That means every page on your site should be easily accessible to a mobile device. If you aren’t sure, just use Google’s mobile-friendliness tool to check. It really is that simple.

Once your site is optimized for mobile access, you should have no problem restoring your ranks back to normal. In the coming years, be sure to adjust your strategies to accommodate the latest trends in tech and consumer preferences. The better you serve your users, the more Google will reward you in the end.

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Nick Wilson

Nick is AudienceBloom's publication wizard. He works his magic to perform outreach for external content marketing campaigns.

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