How big will this update be? Google’s own Zineb Ait Bahajji, of its Webmaster Trends team, said it’s going to have more impact than both Panda and Penguin.
Search Engine Land, which made that statement, isn’t sure what this means precisely. All they know is this update’s going to be big – likely the biggest yet.
But if you watch Google closely, they’ve been recommending responsive design since at least June 6, 2012. They talk about it on their own Webmaster Central Blog. Some SEOs suspect having a responsive design has played a role in search rankings already.
What Google’s doing now, though, is much more drastic. If you don’t have a responsive design by April 21st, you will get actively penalized. Some good news – the penalty will only affect mobile search.
You Can Lose a Substantial Amount of Business from this Update!
To put the potential effects in perspective, let’s say you get 500 unique visits per month. 250 come from mobile devices (50%’s a realistic rate). Say 50% of those 250 visits, 125, no longer happen because you got a penalty. 50% loss of your mobile traffic is a good guesstimate – actual numbers may run slightly higher or lower (no one knows with 100% accuracy).
Who knows how many of your mobile customers buy, but that could represent an overall 25% loss in business overnight!
What is a “Responsive Design?”
It’s simple. It’s a design that scales to fit the screen on all devices – desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones, and tablet PCs.
So, your website should look like a normal website on each of those devices. Visually, it’s easy to get.
But writing all the code behind the scenes to make that happen takes work.
How Do I Check If I Have a Responsive Design?
You actually don’t even have to check – if your website is verified in Google Webmaster tools. Google is sending e-mails with the subject “Fix mobile usability issues”.
You know you have a problem if you get that e-mail.
If you want to check to be 100% sure, simply follow this link and enter in your web address.
If your site is NOT mobile responsive, you’ll see these horizontal scrollbars:
If you do have a responsive website, you’ll still get scrollbars, but they’ll only be vertical:
In this case, I’m totally safe. Whew 🙂
What If I Don’t Have a Responsive Design?
You need to move fast and get a responsive design in place now. Web designers are going to get flooded with business.
You can wait until after April 21st too. But who knows how long it will take you to recover from the Google penalty? You could lose 25% of your business for several months!
Can I Make My Own Design?
You could, but design takes a lot of time to learn. And do you really want to spend 5 hours trying to figure out how to move an icon just 1/2 inch to the right? That’s what it’s like to learn coding from scratch.
Some business owners also think of going to free template-based websites like Wix. They make you feel good, but lack critical features like:
- The ability to fully control your SEO (a major rankings hit)
- Giving you control over your site and its content (Wix reserves the right to modify your site and content at any time!)
- Wix isn’t even mobile responsive, but they let you play around with your site to get it to fit various screen sizes
If you don’t have a responsive design, get one now before it’s too late!