If you keep up with current events, you may have heard the buzz about Google’s new mobile-friendly update. It essentially makes mobile optimization a bigger factor in determining how highly you will be ranked in Google's search results. And, if you haven’t read beyond the apocalyptic-sounding headlines, you may be thinking, “oh %^&*! We need to make our site mobile NOW before our site falls off the face of the Earth (as far a Google is concerned)!” Am I right??
Well, before you start banging on IT’s or Marketing’s door to demand a mobile site ASAP, get the facts to put your mind at ease.
1. This update only affects search rankings on mobile devices.
Google’s FAQ page explicitly states, "this update has no effect on searches from tablets or desktops. It affects searches from mobile devices across all languages and locations.“ So, if someone searches from their desktop or tablet, you’ll still rank as well as you have in the past, regardless. But, if your site isn't mobile-friendly, you may notice a decline in traffic from mobile devices. <--Notice I used the word may.
Google's mobile update page states that "while the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal -- so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query." So, if your site isn't mobile but has a wealth of relevant, optimized content, you could still rank higher than a mobile site with less relevant content.
2. It applies to individual pages.
This is great because your site isn’t treated as an aggregate source of either mobile-friendly or non-mobile-friendly data. Instead, each page ranks individually.
So, let’s say someone searches for “small business loans for construction companies” on their smart phone. If Google sees that you happen to have an awesome page on your site that gets significant traffic and is all about small business loans for construction companies, that page has a great opportunity to rank higher in search—whether or not your site (and that page, specifically) is mobile-friendly.
Just as in #1, content is key.
While these two very important facts about Google’s new update may be a relief to hear, keep in mind that Google does base your rankings on a number of factors, including usability, speed, and—of course—relevancy, among others. And, while you may not need to make your site mobile-friendly by next week to keep your position in search, it is something that will be weighted more heavily in the future since more people use their smart phones to access the Web. With that said, make your intent to go mobile a focus sooner—rather than later.