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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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JD Rucker

JD Rucker Founder

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Did Google Just Bump Mobile-Friendliness Up in its Ranking Algorithm?

BumpUp.jpg?width=750

Word on the street in the SEO world is that Google just had a big algorithm update that is finally starting to match what they've been saying for a while: mobile-friendliness is important for search rankings.

The move was first noted by Bronco's update watch on January 26th. Speculation was that it had to do with changes to Panda, but on a Google Webmaster Help hangout, John Mueller ruled out a Penguin or Panda update.

Perhaps the biggest evidence was the Webmaster Tools message reported by many saying that their website was not considered "mobile friendly". When the algorithm update hit, many disappeared from the rankings.

It seems to be progressive as well; webmasters are reporting fluctuations in their rankings even today.

On Android search, there's a tag showing next to some of the listings called "Mobile-friendly" that you can see below on a search for "Automotive SEO".

AutomotiveSEOSearch.jpg?width=750As Search Engine Journal says:

"If you see a notable decline in mobile traffic starting around January 24th, then that’s a good sign you have been affected. If that’s the case, then the best course of action would be to upgrade your site to a mobile-friendly design."

We've been promoting for a while that dealers need to make certain their websites are completely mobile-ready. We saw nice moves on our own sites as well as client sites that were on a responsive website design platform, which for dealers means using companies like FlexDealer, WorldDealer, or Dealer Inspire amongst others.

Check your rankings on an incognito browser on both mobile and desktop. There are reports that it only affected mobile, but we've seen otherwise with many of our clients. The ones on mobile-friendly platforms moved up!

We all know the world is going mobile. Google knew that before any of us. Now, it seems they're finally starting to do something about it.

JD Rucker
Sorry DealerFire - I always forget to include you guys in the responsive discussion!
Lauren Moses
Great article JD. And how true it is that the world is going mobile. It sometimes scares me to think about how far we have come in just the last 5 years with technology. If we have gone so far in 5, what does the next 15 hold? What devices will my kids be walking around with at 21 and 19 that I never would have dreamed of at that age? It just goes to show that you have to stay with the times, if not ahead. Do you think the dealers without truely responsive sites (like us) but are formatted for mobile, etc will have to completely switch to responsive sites? I have to check our mobile numbers and compare to see if there has been a change since January 24th.
JD Rucker
@Lauren - If every page you have on desktop has a corresponding mobile page, you won't have to switch... yet. IF they start to force responsive, which is doubtful, then you're looking at it happening years from now. They might start creeping up the responsive sites a bit more in search, but the majority of the web isn't responsive, so there's no need to fear any time in the near future. We prefer responsive because it's simply easier to build content. As a whole, we feel responsive is better because it kills a few birds with a single stone, but there's nothing alarming about it. Adding content to a desktop version and a mobile version may or may not add an additional step. Still, strong mobile like what I've heard about DealerEProcess and others will not hurt you in the short term and likely won't even hurt you in the long term.
Lauren Moses
Ours is mobile friendly and after checking on several different phones, tablets, and computers, our listing on google does show up with the "mobile friendly" tag beside it. Was nice to see that it's not something I will have to worry with at the moment. I understand that responsive does have lots of benefits, but if its not an urgent need to switch then why do I hear of so many saying that it is dire to switch or you will get lost in googles eyes? I'm sure for the vendors it means more clients and their for more money but I've also heard others, Is it just from the vendors pushing to get it out there so much? That others can't see so long as they have mobile versions then they are safe for a while?
JD Rucker
@Lauren - Vendors will always promote what they're selling, but there are plenty who do believe that Google will torpedo non-responsive design in the future. I see once fell into that camp, but I now see it as the favored option rather than the required option in Google's eyes. Think of it like a steak. Depending on your state, most restaurants have to post a warning about the dangers of undercooked beef. Still, less than half of the orders come in as well done. There are plenty of people who have had medium rare steaks regularly throughout their long lives with no known detriments to their health.

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