Google's Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update & What It Means for Web Hosting Providers

Posted by Mary McCoy on Apr 15, 2015 6:30:00 AM


ATTENTION Web Hosting Providers: Google has announced a new update that is expected to change the way companies do business online. For most companies this is a note-worthy event that could have a serious impact on the organic traffic to their own site. For Web hosting providers, though, there is an added layer of depth to this type of announcement. Because you have such a serious influence on the online presence of your small- and medium-sized clients, this is the perfect time for you to educate your less-technical customers and show them some of the additional value that you bring to the table.

So forgive us for stepping a bit outside our typical backup-centric subject matter, but we wanted to make sure our friends in the Web hosting space - and all of your customers - are well aware of the upcoming changes and how they may impact you following Google's April 21 algorithm update.

What Is the Google Mobile update?

Ever since Google officially announced their new algorithm on Google Webmaster Central, marketers and web service providers alike have been buzzing about how this change will impact them, reviewing necessary steps to ensure their website is mobile friendly. 

Before I discuss why this announcement is relevant for you as web hosts, let's first recap.

You've heard of Google Panda and Penguin, but now there's a new search engine results algorithm on the block, and its impact is greater than those of its predecessors. According to the mobile market powerhouse that is Google: 

"Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results." [source] 

What do you need to know?

The buying process has changed, and phone books are a thing of the past. The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is now how businesses get found. The first page of search results is very valuable digital real estate, and the higher your website falls in the listing, the better.

Soon, web page rankings will also largely be determined by whether pages are optimized for mobile devices. It's a simple as this: if you have a mobile friendly website, you'll rank higher in mobile search results. If you don't, you'll be penalized. As web hosting providers, the same goes for your customers' websites.

OK, so it's a bit more complicated than that. Here are some of the details:

This mobile algorithm judges on page-by-page basis

Can one non-optimized page ruin it for your whole website? Thankfully, no.

Google will be looking at each web page individually. Mobile-friendly web pages will be ranked higher than those that are not, but your overall domain rank won't suffer if your site is compatible overall.

What the April 21 deadline really means

"Ahhh that's a week away!! What if my website or my customer's website needs a major mobile overhaul?"

Don't worry, you're not SOL if you don't update in time. I'd advise you to do as much home improvement as you can before April 21 rolls around because that's when Google will be crawling, scoring and indexing your site for search.

Still, the mobile-friendly changes you make will go into effect the next time Google crawls. Again, while this may not seem like a life and death matter, the time before the next crawl could be the time your prospects seek web services from competitors that have jumped on the mobile bandwagon before you. In a competitive market like this, time is always of the essence! 

Reading between the lines of code

As a notable SEO authority, Neil Patelco-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics, has predicted the following: 

"My basic predictions are that non-optimized pages will virtually drop from mobile rankings and possibly desktop rankings. I predict that any page lacking mobile optimization will cease to rank for head terms. I predict that SERP results on page 1 for longtail keywords above a certain search frequency threshold will feature mobile-friendly only pages." [source]

While Google maintains the algorithm will not change destop rankings, others are speculating that this might not always be the case. Moz also reminds developers that non-mobile optimized websites have an indirect effect on desktop search rankings if engagement drops and visitors increasingly bounce due to poor UX.

Why is it important to optimize websites for mobile?

According to Smart Insights, 80% of Internet users own a smartphone and 47% own a tablet. Additionally, the majority of users browse the web on their PCs, mobiles and tablets, a practice known as "multiscreening." Most mobile purchases are made through first starting with a search engine. Now knowing that the results of these searches will be directly influenced by the new algorithm update, these insights demonstrate how imperative it is that web hosts optimize their websites for mobile.

If these numbers aren't enough to convince you, get the stats on your own website by digging in to Google Analytics. Just Navigate to Audience > Mobile > Overview, and you'll see the percentage of your traffic broken down by desktop, mobile and tablet. 

With more customers increasingly turning to mobile search for products and services awareness and purchasing, don't miss out on this crucial source of revenue for your company.  

How Web hosts can take advantage

Don't stop at your own company! Educate the customers using your web hosting services for their own websites. Share this blog with them, and make sure they're fully prepared for the April 21 algorithm launch.

Google's mobile-friendly test tool  

Share with customers the link to Google's mobile-friendly test page. All they have to do is input their website, and they'll instantly discover if it passes the test or not. See below:


Customers can also search for their company to see if their SERP entry lists their website as "mobile-friendly."

Offer customers mobile site building or responsive design services  

As captured in Hosting NewsDanny Johananoff, Founder and CEO of web hosting comparison site, claims your customers will buy these packages because they

  • are cost-effective - web hosts that offer these services cost less than professional design firms 
  • help customers be more self-sufficient
    • site owners can easily create websites for mobile use or
    • design and launch their own mobile websites

Let's Recap!

So here's the Reader's Digest (TL;DR) version: 

  • Google is launching their new mobile algorithm on April 21st 
  • Websites must be optimized for mobile by that time or they will rank lower in mobile search results
  • As web hosting providers, you should make sure your own sites are mobile-friendly, you should also capitalize on mobile purchasing trends and host services for customers
  • Companies can test whether or not their websites are compatible by visiting this site.

For more information on Google's latest algorithm update, check out the following additional resources:


What else are you doing to prepare your customers? Have you analyzed customer sites and reported the results direclty to them? Do you have an automated check set up do make the process easier? Let us know what other actions hosting providers are taking to prepare for the update!

Download "The Big Book of Backup"  


Meet Mary! Mary McCoy is Continuum’s resident Inbound Marketing Specialist and social media enthusiast. She recently graduated from the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!) with a BA in Economics and served as digital marketing intern for Citi Performing Arts Center (Citi Center), spearheading the nonprofit’s #GivingTuesday social media campaign. Like her school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, Mary believes learning never ends. She considers herself a passionate, lifelong student of content creation and inbound marketing.

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Topics: hosted services, Webhosting, hosting industry

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