Google is making a rare change to its search algorithm tomorrow—one that has the power to dramatically alter a site’s ranking in Google’s all-important search results. SOUND THE ALARM.
The change is really pretty simple. It’s designed to make Google’s search results more useful for people using it on their phones. Starting tomorrow, the algorithm will reward sites with “mobile-friendly” designs and push down those which aren’t optimized for mobile viewing. What, exactly, does a non-optimized site look like? Well, think back to the last time you tried to view a site on your phone and found yourself zooming in and out, trying to find the right button, or failing to view the entire page. In short, it’s annoying, and it’s something Google is now doing its best to stamp out.
It’s a shift that has been in the offing for months since Google announced it back in February, saying it would “have a significant impact in our search results.” But as the date for implementation has approached, discussion of the change has reached fever peak—it even has its own panic-inducing nick name, Mobilegeddon, which seems a tad over the top.
But to test whether a particular site will be affected by the change, Google built a site that lets you plug in a URL and see whether the algorithm will punish it for its design. Gizmodo.com is in the clear, as are many other news sites. But the Economist points to an analysis by the research firm Portent, which analyzed 25,000 top ranked sites and found that 10,000 failed the test—including the Department of Homeland Security. Sadly, TedCruz.org is fine, as are the sites of other 2016 candidates I tested.
So, what does this mean for you? If you’re using Google on your phone, it’s going to get better. If you’re a webmaster or involved in running a site and you’re not sure if it passes Google’s muster, you can use Google’s own test site to find out whether you’re in the clear. [The Economist]
Contact the author at kelsey@Gizmodo.com.