Are You Prepared for Mobilegeddon?

By: Ray Majd, Director, Program Operations (4/21/2015)

Mobilegeddon

The day is upon us. Dubbed “Mobilegeddon” by many in the SEO community, today is the day that Google updates their search algorithm for mobile devices.

If you’ve been using your smartphone for search in the past few months (as more than half of us do), you may have already noticed that Google has started to label certain sites “mobile-friendly.” Starting today, that designation will factor into search results.

The impact of these changes could be significant for those who are not prepared. It’s estimated that the top-ranked result gets 20-30 percent of the hits—and with mobile’s smaller screen compared to desktop, ranking at the top of search results is even more crucial.

Past updates to Google’s algorithm—such as Panda and Penguin—were thought to negatively affect up to 12 percent of all Internet sites. Initial predictions are that today’s changes will have a similar impact.

What does Mobilegeddon mean for pharma sites?

For many reasons, pharmaceutical sites are already a bit behind the curve. A 2014 Manhattan Research study estimates that only a third of all HCP sites are optimized for mobile.

Last month, one of my colleagues already made the case for pharma’s mobile responsibility. Now, it’s also essential that those sites not only exist, but are optimized so that the right patients and professionals (those that are actually searching for you on their phones when they need you most) can find you.

But before we all crowd the grocery store stocking up on bottled water and canned goods, let’s take a look at a few important points about this “Mobilegeddon” and what you need to do.

Googlebot

  1. First, the update only affects mobile search. Desktop searches will remain the same. But again, this is 50 percent of all searches we are talking about that will now strongly favor sites that are optimized and adjust for smaller screens. Responsive design is a huge factor here but that’s not all—sites must also avoid software like Flash and feature larger text with easy-to-click links.
  2. Second, Google will be picking up the changes in real time. This means you don’t have to resubmit all your pages or wait for the search engine to re-index your site. Just like the instant test below, the search engine simply knows if your site is, or is not, mobile-friendly, and works that into the results, on the fly.
  3. And third, there is no better or best level of optimization. It’s a “yes or no” sort of thing, where each site is either mobile-friendly or it isn’t. So, while this may mean some pretty major effort to catch up with the industry, it doesn’t require a lot of tweaking or guesswork to try to “figure out” the algorithm. You can test your page here.

So, what if your site is not yet mobile optimized? Why all the commotion today?

With more than half of searches now coming from mobile, it’s important to stay at the top of the rankings (and not slip, even for a few days or weeks) so that users can find you while they are at the point of care or otherwise looking for information. In the end, the work you do today to optimize your site will be much easier than trying to catch up later when the algorithm update has knocked you off the first few pages.

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