Tomorrow, April 21, Google is going to be rolling out one of the biggest algorithm changes in years.

Expected to have a larger impact than either of the biggest updates in the past few years, Panda and Penguin, despite the fact that it will only impact searches done on smartphones. The importance of this update is so great that many are already calling it ‘Mobilegeddon’ and ‘Phonepocalypse’.

What does the update mean?

Mobile optimization has been a ranking signal for some time, but now it is going to be a much larger one. Websites that are designed for mobile and display correctly on those devices will find their search ranks improved, while the opposite is true for websites lacking a mobile version.

On their February announcement of this update, Google spelled out exactly what this means for webmasters. In order to benefit from this update, websites must:

To quickly check whether your website meets these guidelines, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly test.

So why such a big deal?

Mobile Web Optimization

Currently, 60% of online traffic is mobile, and that number is continuing to increase. Google, in their endless quest to offer more relevant search results, has long recognized the need to cater to this segment. They want to ensure that searchers using their search engine from a mobile device to find relevant results, and a large part of that is making sure they land on a website they can use and read. Reflecting this, the update will slash mobile traffic tomorrow to any domain that doesn’t offer a quality mobile experience.

Undoubtedly many small businesses and organizations will learn of this in the coming weeks only after they notice a drastic drop in traffic from search engines. Surprisingly, many big brands appear to be poised to suffer as well; many giants, such as Ryanair, The Daily Mail, American Apparel, and Windows Phone, don’t currently offer a mobile friendly experience.

All of this said, there is a large upside in this update for anyone already sporting a responsive design or developing one. This update is an opportunity to leapfrog poorly optimized competitors in search results.

Take this update as Google meant it — urgent motivation to perfect your website’s mobile experience.

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