Google Search Changed - How does it affect you?

Chris Booth :: Thursday 23rd April 2015 :: Latest Blog Posts

Google Search Changes – What happened?

You may not have noticed but a lot of fuss has been made about recent changes to Google's search engine.  In practice those changes do not seem to be as significant as the hype suggested or as serious as people may have feared.  However the fact is that many older websites are not doing so well with Google as they used to.

If your website doesn't resize itself to fit mobile phones then it may have moved down Google's search results by one or more places.

What did Google do?

Google now keep 2 indexes - one for desktop computers and laptops and another for mobile phones and tablets.

  • When someone searches using a computer the results will be as they always have been.
  • When someone searches on a phone or tablet they get the new index that favours sites that work best on phones.

That is - Google now deliver different search results to different devices.  Phones get different results to computers.

Does this affect me?

If your site is already "mobile friendly" then any affect from this change is likely to be positive.  Your site can only benefit from this change.  Otherwise ask yourself these two questions

  • Are my customers finding me using phones?
  • Do my competitors have sites that work on mobile phones?

If either of your answers is "yes" then you should consider updating your site.  If both your answers are yes then you should probably take the site upgrade for granted and consider when you can get you site reworked.

To answer the question "How does this affect me?" in a more concrete way - try similar searches using a desktop computer and a phone and see where you come in each search.  You can also use a Google tool to check if your site is mobile friendly or not.

What is the affect now?

If you try similar searches on desktops and phones you will find that, on the whole, the differences are small.  Sites are only moving by a couple of positions.

Crystal ball time – where does this lead?

I think that while current changes are small, the future is mobile.  I think we probably have plenty of time to get ready for it.

The writing is on the wall for Microsoft's dream of computers in every home.  The fact is that most people don't need a computer now and probably never did.  I think that, if anything, Google is actually late in making this change and is being a bit conservative here.  For me, that is borne out by the relatively small drop most sites are suffering.

I see four things happening here...

  • The changes aren't finished yet.  Google has a new search but is still tuning it.  If the newly promoted sites appear to serve visitors as well as the demoted ones did then the changes will stick.  Otherwise they will be reversed.  Google will be watching how each and every site fares and they will sink or swim on their own merits.
  • The effect of this change will become more pronounced.  If visitors seem to like the changes I think Google will stop being so conservative.  At this point non-mobile sites will really suffer.
  • This will affect desktop search.  Google are always looking for a way to separate "good sites" from "bad sites" they will use any criteria they can do deliver better search results.   If Google find a way to use their "mobile friendly" data to see who is trying the hardest then I think they will.
  • I think that Google will take their time.  They don't have much competition.  They can afford to move slowly and carefully.

What should I do now?

Check your site - is it mobile friendly?

Search for your site using first a computer and then a phone – is it suffering?

If you are worried contact The Web Booth for advice.