Will you be affected by the new Google Algorithm update?

Written by


Rebecca Woods

Published


Recently, Google announced that they were going to stop indexing websites that are not accessible on mobile devices. So, what does this mean – and should you be worried?  

Why has this update caused concern in digital marketing teams?  

The last “big” algorithm update that focused on mobile was in 2015, when Google announced they would be prioritising mobile responsive websites when ranking results in mobile. 

Digital teams had a small amount of time to make their website mobile friendly i.e., responsive on mobile devices, or they would not be ranked as well by the Googlebot mobile crawler.  

With traffic from mobile devices climbing, you were either going to be part of the revolution – or you were going to fall behind.  Looking back, whilst this update was impactful, it didn’t cause the drastic changes that many SEOs had feared. Still, there was enough of an impact for an entire industry to sit up and pay attention.  

Since then, digital teams have been keeping a cautious eye on the search landscape for the next update. 

Why has Google continued to update its algorithm?

Google is a business reliant on its reputation of being the best search engine in the world.  

If you are the best, everyone wants to use you – and that makes you hugely attractive to advertisers. It is in the interest of Google to monitor consumer behaviour and adapt their practices to match. If they fail to be at the forefront of innovation, someone else will take their position. 

The biggest challenger to Google’s supremacy is Bing, the Microsoft-owned search engine that saw a jump from owning 6.43% of the market to 9.19% in the three years leading up to January 2024. Google, while still owning 83.49% of the global search engine market, saw this share fall from 89.95% in the same timeframe.  

While Bing is a very different search engine in terms of how it ranks content and the ranking factors influencing its algorithm, it has enough of a presence to keep Google’s Finance team awake at night (a really good resource on the key differences between how content is ranked by Bing and Google is here)  

Google needs to maintain its supremacy – To do that, it needs to not only follow what consumers want but accurately predict where things will be going and lead the way.

So, what does the latest update mean? 

Essentially, if your website will not load on a mobile device, it will not be indexed after July 5th, 2024.

Does this mean that your website must be perfectly mobile friendly on all counts, or it’ll be ignored by search engines?   

No, not at all.  

This update only applies to websites that do not load on a mobile device.  

What has Google said about this? In their blog post announcing the change, they said: 

“The small set of sites we’ve still been crawling with desktop Googlebot will be crawled with mobile Googlebot after July 5, 2024… 

To simplify our systems and make it easier for sites to debug issues related to device types, we’ll soon crawl all sites for Search with the Googlebot Smartphone crawler… 

if your site’s content is not accessible at all with a mobile device, it will no longer be indexable.”  

It’s a fair cop; 60% of global website traffic comes from mobile devices and 92% of all internet users across the world “consider accessing the internet through their smartphones compared to other devices”.  

There’s no getting away from it, the world is mobile, and you’ve got to keep up. 

Does this mean you can abandon desktop SEO?  

Also no. 

Google John Mueller has confirmed that a lot of users still use Desktop devices to access websites and that you still need to have a strategy that includes desktop. Optimising your website technically so that it operates well and has a clear user journey across Desktop and Mobile will mean that you stand the best chance of ranking well. 

The 2021 Core Web Vitals update still applies, where Google looks at “real-world” user experience factors like Last Contextual Paint (LCP) and CLS – how much a page’s elements move about unexpectedly when the page is loading, and many more. There’s a great resource on Core Web Vitals here – we’ll probably be doing an updated blog on this soon as well.  

What if your website doesn’t load on mobile? 

It won’t be indexed after July 5th – But don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Power up your digital presence with our checklist.

In this short, easy to read checklist, you’ll find out how to:

  • Improve your website traffic
  • Make your website traffic work harder for you
  • Track for success
  • Lead the way with regards to accessibility

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