Digital Insights

Will Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update Be Big?


Published: April 8, 2015

Google is dead serious about making the digital world mobile-friendly, and is prepared to destroy your search rankings to prove it. When Google’s “Mice” algorithm update rolls out on April 21, 2015, any website that is not properly configured for mobile devices (as defined by Google) will literally disappear from Google’s mobile search results.

Considering that more than half of all Internet searches are now being performed on a mobile device, marketers with non-compliant websites could see 50 percent or more of their traffic vanish within a matter of days.

Google’s Mice update will take about a week to fully roll out worldwide, and is expected to have a greater impact on search than either the Panda or Penguin algorithm updates, two of the most consequential updates in Google’s history. In Google’s own words:

“Starting April 21, 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. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

What’s Really Behind the New Search Algorithm?
The Mice update is the latest in a series of major algorithm changes that have rocked the digital marketing community in recent years. The Panda, Penguin, Pigeon, and Mice updates all share the common goal of improving the online experience for Google’s search users. The intention is to have users find exactly what they’re looking for, and to have them directed to high-quality, easy to navigate sites.

The bottom line for marketers is simple: if your website provides a positive and rewarding experience for visitors, Google is going to reward you with better rankings in the search results. If your site provides a less than stellar experience for visitors, you can expect to see your rankings plummet. Google is taking mobile-friendly user experience seriously, and so should you.

How to Identify Organic Traffic Loss
On another note, how have your prospects and customers been receiving the news of the Google Mobile Friendly update set to release on April 21st? I ask because it has made a few of our customers want to update their site to being responsive and another handful of them wanting to proceed forward on new website projects to get started right away. It seems that the downside risk of losing this mobile organic traffic was enough to get the ones on the fence wanting to start right away.

One tip you can do to determine how much of their traffic is at risk from the Mobile Friendly update is have them login to Google Analytics and under the Mobile section > select “Overview” > Then in the secondary sources drop down above the list of sources select “Acquisition” > then select “Traffic Type” to view your Mobile Organic traffic.

If the site isn’t updated to responsive or a mobile site by April 21st this traffic number represents the downside risk of traffic they will lose. You can see the example screen shot attached that reflects this number on one of our prospect’s sites that elected to move forward. For them it was 25% of total traffic which they could not afford to lose.

organic mobile traffic

The Time to Mobile Optimize Your Site is Now
If your business website has not been properly optimized for mobile devices, you only have a few short weeks left to take action. Specifically, you need to:

  • Present a mobile-friendly site for your visitors. Google prefers that you have a responsive website design that is compatible with all mobile devices, but a separate mobile version of your site will work just fine – although it will effectively double your SEO-related chores.
  • Test your site for crawlability. You need to verify that Google’s automated bots can easily crawl and index all of your web pages on mobile.
  • Check each of your web pages for mobile device compatibility.

How Google Defines “Mobile-friendly”
Google has established a set of criteria for determining the mobile-friendliness of a website. To remain in Google’s good graces, your site needs to:

Resize your web pages to fit various screen sizes so that users don’t have to zoom or scroll horizontally in order to read your content.

Feature text that is easily read without having to zoom in on it.

Avoid software, such as Flash, that is not common to mobile devices.

Feature links that are spaced far enough apart to enable users to easily tap the link that they want.

How to Test Your Site for Mobile-friendliness
To test the mobile-friendliness of an individual web page, typically your home page, go to For a site-wide report on mobile usability issues, access the Mobile Usability Report inside the Google Webmaster Tools suite.


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