Some are calling it 'Mobilegeddon'; others have opted for 'Mobilepocolypse'. Both sound equally ominous – and for good reason. In less than a week's time we will see the most significant change to Google's algorithm to date. Whichever your term of choice (neither are particularly easy on the ear), one thing is sure – ignore it at your peril. Amid all the speculation about what businesses can expect, here's a quick overview of why the travel industry needs to be ready, willing and able to tackle this algorithm change head on.
According to Google, this forthcoming change will have a far greater impact than Panda and Penguin (the less menacing-sounding algorithm changes of 2011 and 2012) ever did. Speaking of the forthcoming changes, Google have stated: "This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results."
What this means is that on 21 April, the search engine giant will take into consideration the mobile-friendliness of a website when it ranks search results. Mobile-friendly sites will get a thumbs up, while sites that are deemed not user-friendly will find themselves falling down the rankings. What the reality of its impact will be, however, is yet to be seen.
Mobile in travel
It is particularly important that businesses in the travel sector are ready for this. The industry is totally geared towards mobile technology – and the figures speak for themselves. According to research by Euromonitor, around one in three online travel bookings will be made on mobile devices by 2017. Add to this the fact that mobile use among business and leisure travellers has doubled, with a further 30% depending on their smartphones to book last-minute breaks.
Steps to take
Luckily, as revealed by tech blog VentureBeat there are steps you can take to ensure your own site does not fall foul of the new rules.
Knowledge: Know the facts about what constitutes mobile-friendly. For example, text should be readable without having to zoom in; content should fit to the screen without the need for scrolling; mobile-unfriendly software is avoided; and there should be enough space between clickable links for ease of use.
Testing: You can test your site for mobile-friendliness in a number of ways. The most obvious way is checking on a smartphone if your site's listing gets the 'mobile-friendly' tag. You can also check with the search engine itself via Google's Mobile-Friendly Test or PageSpeed Insights test. Simply enter a web page URL to see if it passes.
Configuration: Once your site has passed Google's mobile-friendly tests, you then need focus on your site's configuration. Depending on whether your site uses responsive web design, dynamic serving or separate URLs there will various solutions and fixes you can put into place.
Prioritise: Mobilegeddon is fast approaching so don't delay. Make this your top priority now – not later.
When it comes to mobile, travel businesses need to be on top of their game – Mobilegeddon or no Mobilegeddon. Are you taking the right steps to ensure your site won't suffer on 21 April? Take action now, because the results (much like the details) are yet to be seen...