Business Technology

Google’s latest algorithm change could have a big impact on your website

4 min read

17 April 2015

Former editor

Whether you like it or not, a lot of what we do in the online world is uncomfortably linked with how Google decides to structure things. As such, paying attention to its updates is key to ensure you aren’t stung.

From its Hummingbird algorithm to a “payday loan” update, when Google tinkers with its backend it’s sure to bring about havoc for those reliant on the internet all over the world.

In 2013, Hummingbird was a new engine built to benefit those using more modern forms of search, such as conversational or voice search. In essence, if your content was structured in a “How to sell the products fast online”, rather than keyword based such as “sell, online, tips”, then you were in the money.

As the biggest change to Google’s core algorithm in twelve years, by grasping the objective of searches which contain words such as “who, what, where, how, why, when”, Google aimed to answer the questions posed by users more efficiently.

Now it appears Google is giving a pat on the back to those who have made sure their websites are mobile optimised. It has been impossible to ignore the proliferation of mobile devices, you only have to glance around you on your way to work to realise the days of reading a book, newspaper or magazine are on their way out.

Going forward, top priority on Google will be given to websites deemed by Google to be “mobile friendly” – although for now this only applies to searches actually made on a mobile device.

Research conducted by SumAll has suggested that as much as one third of all traffic could be lost by not having a website that is mobile friendly. And when you consider that 61 per cent of all total web traffic originates from mobile, this is set to be a big figure.

Read more about Google algorithms:

Small text and flash video will be two factors set to pose a problem for a so-called “mobile-friendly” status. Having an approach that includes large text, easy-to-click links or a responsive design will all go a long way towards ensuring Google does not penalise.

Findings from mobile marketing company Somo have predicted that massive websites such as RyanAir, The Daily Mail, Nintendo and even the official website for the European Union are all about to feel the heat because each is not mobile-geared.


From 21 April onwards, which doesn’t give you much time if your website is not designed for the medium, mobile-friendly websites will rise to the top of searches.

For those who want to find out quickly whether their website passes the “mobile-friendly test”, Google has provided a quick assessment tool.

A quick trip to the Google developers website reveals the seven common mistakes it believes are made on mobile websites. Blocked JavaScript, CSS and image files, unplayable content, faulty redirects, mobile-only 404s, app download interstitials, irrelevant cross-links and slow mobile pages are all mentioned.

Further insight from Google details what will make a page eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label. It advises websites to avoid software that is not common on mobile devices, use text that is readable without zooming, size content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom and place links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped.

Taking the time to make some small changes to your website, and acknowledge the growing community of mobile-first internet users, could help prevent it from sliding down the Google scale.