Google Risks ‘Mobilegeddon’ With Mobile-Favoring Search Algorithm Tweak

On Tuesday Google will change an algorithm in its search function that will give preference to websites that are deemed "mobile friendly" for searches run via cellular devices (searches run via browsers on computers and tablets will be unaffected). This change by the search behemoth is widely expected to have a more substantial search results impact than its two previous algorithm updates, Panda (12% affected) and Penguin (3% affected).


Considering that mobile searches now make up nearly 50% of all Google search traffic* the algorithm update is sure to cause what marketing firm Somo is calling a "mobilegeddon", adversely affecting the search rankings of a significant number of websites. Google itself even acknowledged as much, referring to the dramatic changes the new algorithm would bring in a February blog post for Google webmasters by Takaki Makino, Chaesang Jung and Doantam Phan, "We will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

Google has not provided any information regarding what percentage of searches performed by the company will be affected. Naturally, though, the move is expected to result in greater adoption by individuals and small businesses of mobile-specific sites and Google's preferred "responsive" design implementation (that in which a site scales dynamically based on the size of the viewing screen). Already today a majority of larger companies offer distinct mobile Web experiences, and the move by others to the responsive scheme is believed to be strong and steady.

To help individuals and companies tune (or re-tune) their web presence to perform at high levels, Google has released the Mobile-Friendly Test, a web-based tool in which users can enter website addresses to learn how the updated Google search algorithm processes their pages. 

Ben Wood, the Global President of digital marketing agency iProspect, told CNBC that the new algorithm Google is introducing tomorrow is likely to have a harsher affect overall than the company's Panda update from last year. "The general consensus is that this is a much bigger update. The truth is that large customer-facing organizations that haven't changed their website to be mobile friendly will find this to be wake-up call for them." 

* According to marketing firm Clickz, based on figures collected between June and November 2014.