’Tis the time to be excited as Google plans to role out a major algorithm update on April 21, 2015 that will improve rank of mobile-friendly websites and mercilessly punish desktop-only detractors. How will it impact the world around us?
1. This is not the first, nor is it the last Google algorithm update. Google makes continual updates to their search engine, with full log of major releases readily available. Stay calm.
2. Each website is evaluated against competitors, not abstract scores. If company A is head to head with company B in Google search results and the only difference between them is that website A is mobile-friendly and website B is not, then A will rise higher in Google rankings. If both are desktop-only websites then new algorithm will obviously have no impact on their search results position relative to each other.
3. Changes in ranking will be reflected in real time, meaning that as soon as website is made mobile-friendly it will go up in rank. If you miss April 21 deadline, you can always roll out a new mobile-friendly website on April 22.
4. Some websites cannot be easily converted to responsive or mobile. The imagery representing work by established photographer or creative agency is meant to be viewed on a standard size monitor, not as a postage stamp on iPhone screen. This holds true for most websites that showcase projects rather than act as vehicles for SEO. For these types of online destinations going mobile is a business decision that needs to weigh benefits of bringing search engine traffic against changing highly defined visuals to comply with Google’s guidelines.
This list can go on, but brevity is the soul of [developer’s] wit. To sum it up, responsive design is a wonderful thing but we cannot have every website looking like a Google Design template. Any changes in online presence have to be evaluated on multiple levels, starting with brand consistency and business needs down to budgetary concerns and technical feasibility. Search engine algorithms continually change, and relevancy of each change is very specific for your or your client’s website - it is certainly not up to Google to determine how you manage your online presence. As always, we can be appreciative of new set of guidelines without letting them overtake our own decisions.