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Mobilegeddon: Separating Fact from Fiction

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Google will start factoring mobile-friendliness into its search ranking algorithm on April 21. Google itself has called the update “significant,” bigger than the Panda or Penguin updates.

Websites that are not mobile friendly will be penalized.

Since Google is the biggest search engine in the world and many websites depend on search engines for new visitors, it’s no wonder some are calling the event mobilepocalyse, mopocalypse or…


Any time people get hysterical about anything, all kinds of wild speculation is introduced and people start acting irrationally. So, I thought I’d take a moment to separate fact from fiction…

Google Mobile-Friendly Search: Fact vs Fiction

Fiction 1: If my website is not mobile friendly on April 21, Google will drop it completely from its search engine.

Fact1 : Google says it will use mobile-friendliness as a “signal” in its algorithm. This means mobile-friendliness is one of more than 200 factors used to calculate search rankings. Non-mobile-friendly sites won’t disappear from Google. They will appear lower in the search results. How much lower is unknown.

Fiction 2: If my website is not mobile friendly on April 21, my search rankings will drop for all searches.

Fact 2: Google says mobile-friendliness will be a factor in mobile search results, meaning it will affect what people see when they search from their phone or tablet. It will not affect what people see when they search from a computer. It is worth noting, however, that currently about half of all searches are done on a mobile device.

Fiction 3: Mobile-friendliness is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t mind using pinch-to-zoom to be able to see a website, so what’s the big deal?

Fact 3: I’ll admit, personally, I got used to pinch-to-zoom and never thought it was a big deal. But No matter what you or I think, Google gets to decide what Google thinks is mobile-friendly and it thinks pinch-to-zoom is not mobile friendly. If Google thinks a website’s text is too small or links are too close together (without pinching), it will rate it as not mobile-friendly.

Fiction 4: April 21 is less than 2 weeks away. My website is not mobile friendly. There’s no way I can make it mobile friendly before Mobilegeddon! My website be penalized! I am doomed!

Fact 4: Yes, if you have not started working to make your website mobile-friendly by now, it’s unlikely you will get it done by April 21. But all hope is not lost. Unlike other penalties that took weeks to resolve and remove, Google says the mobile-friendly factor is updated in real-time. That means as soon as your website is mobile-friendly your mobile search rankings will improve. You may not get it done before April 21, but the sooner you start, the sooner you will recover.

Fiction 5: It takes months to make a website mobile-friendly.

Fact 5: The time it takes to make a website mobile-friendly varies greatly depending on a number of factors. We have some clients with WordPress sites, which we were able to update with a responsive theme in less than 2 weeks. If a new website needs to be created but the design and content will stay the same, that takes a little more time but can also be done quickly. If a website has been neglected for years and it needs a new look and new content, that can take months.

Fiction 6: It’s time to panic!

Fact 6: If your website still is not mobile-friendly, don’t freak out. But don’t curl up into a ball or put your head in the sand either. Move forward. Decide as soon as possible whether you’re going to make your current website mobile-friendly or get a new website. Decide as soon as possible who is going do the work.

If you’re not sure about these decisions and would like to talk them through, schedule a free call with one of our experts.

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    About the author

    Paul Steinbrueck

    Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.


    • I use your NE1 Website Builder. Google says my site is not mobile-friendly, primarily due to the font size. However, the font size is great for computers. Google also says my site is not configured with a Viewport – which it says will scale the page to the correct size for mobile browsers. Do you have any plans to add Viewport configuration to NE1 Website pages?

      • Hi Jean, great questions. We are a ways off from making NE1 sites mobile-friendly. At this point, no one knows how big the penalty will be on sites that are not mobile friendly. So, our recommendation for NE1 users at this point is to monitor your mobile search rankings during the last week of April. If the drop is minimal, then just wait until we have a mobile-friendly solution. If the drop is significant, then we recommend switching to a WordPress site with a mobile-friendly (responsive) theme.

        If you're somewhat tech-savvy, you can install and configure WordPress yourself. Or we can create a custom WordPress site for you –