If you operate any businesses online you might have heard the term ‘mobilegeddon.’ Mobilegeddon refers to an update that Google is currently making to their algorithm. With the changes in place Google’s results will favor sites that are optimized for mobile devices.
Mobilegeddon is currently receiving massive press coverage. Mainstream outlets like USA Today, NY Times and the Wall Street Journal all have articles describing the impending doom for your search traffic due to google’s upcoming algorithm change.
We own and operate several SaaS and ecommerce products. Our first reaction when reading about mobilegeddon was to freak out. Most of our SaaS products were built around the time the first iPhone came out. We have made only minor changes to the sites, mostly fixing bugs and updating some copy.
Some of our sites rely heavily on SEO. Is our traffic going to disappear over night because our sites are not mobile optimized? Do we have to completely overhaul and redesign all of our sites to meet Google’s new mobile standards?
Not so fast
I went to a trusted resource that has direct communication with Google and their algorithm team, and is focused on covering search engine issues, Search Engine Land. They have a great Q & A style post diffusing some of the myths about the update.
The point that stood out the most to me was:
Q: Will it impact desktop searchers? Will my desktop rankings drop?
A: No, it will only impact mobile searchers and will have no impact on your desktop rankings.
Woa! Good thing I checked a few additional sources and did not start redesigning all of my sites based upon the first few articles I read. Now that I know only mobile search traffic is going to be affected I can try to make decisions based upon data.
You can read the full article here, mobilegeddon checklist.
What does the data say?
We have google analytics installed on all of our sites, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to see how much of my overall traffic is coming from mobile devices.
After reviewing our analytics information you can see that about 13% of all traffic is coming from mobile devices when including tablets. Not a huge percentage of our traffic. Maybe we do not need to update this SaaS product’s website.
Before closing out google analytics I thought about refining my data a bit further. This is a SaaS product. A good amount of traffic is returning users that are logging into the software.
How about if I look at only new users? Now the number of users on mobile devices is much higher. Now we are looking at over 20% of our traffic coming from mobile devices. This is a different story. New users is how we grow the business and bring new people into the sales funnel. If we stop showing up in mobile searches our growth would be seriously impeded.
Our first reaction is to completely redesign the site in question. The problem is if we do a complete redesign we are going to need to steal time from our client work and we are going to need a designer to mock up new pages. Then once the new design is mocked up we are going to revise them and then move on to creating new HTML pages, etc.
Instead of creating an entire new project to redesign the site. Why not just make the current site mobile responsive? It would save time, which equals saving money. By using all of the current sites assets (pictures / content) we turn what could potentially be a huge project into a smaller update that we should be able to complete within a few days.
Keeping the project smaller also makes it more manageable. Instead of creating an entire new design, we can use the existing design and just make the existing design responsive. Would we prefer an entire redesign, yes.
Is taking on a redesign project now the best use of our time, no, especially when taking into consideration the reason we are making changes in the first place. We are only making these changes to not lose out on the 20% of new users visiting our site on a mobile device.
In our experience it is always better to take action. Even though an entire new site design is more exciting and will be more fun to work on, the quickest route to taking action is using the current design and making it responsive.
We have gone this long without a redesign. The reason we are making any changes at all is because of Google’s changes. We need to keep that in mind. If not for Google’s changes, we would have left the site 100% as is.
In an effort to keep the project small we are going to use twitter bootstrap and squeeze all of the existing pages into the wordpress install we are using to power our blog and the wordpress install that will power our upcoming course.
The goal is to make all of the changes required to make the Google god’s happy within a few days. We can judge the success of the redesign based upon how quickly we can have the new mobile friendly version of the site done and online.
Follow along! We will post an update when the work is complete.
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