What Google's New Algorithm Really Means for Your Nonprofit | npENGAGE

What Google’s New Algorithm Really Means for Your Nonprofit

By on Apr 22, 2015


Making your website responsive and/or mobile friendly will help you lose weight and cut your monthly mortgage payments!

OK, that might be a slight exaggeration. But if you are, so to speak, searching for yet another reason to make the switch to a responsive/mobile-friendly design as quickly as possible, besides the obvious reason—traffic from mobile devices comprises anywhere from 50-60% of all web traffic—Google has just provided one.

As of April 21, Google has updated its algorithm to rank sites on searches conducted on a mobile device; the more mobile-friendly a page is, the higher it will appear in search results. Additionally, mobile-friendly results will be tagged as such on the results page. (Again, just to be clear, these changes apply only to searches conducted on a mobile-device.)

Content still matters, though.

In a statement, Google said that site design alone will not improve rankings in search results. A non-mobile-friendly page can still outrank a mobile-friendly page if the search term and page content is a strong match.

And I use the word “page” instead of “site” because Google’s update will examine individual pages, not entire sites. The more mobile-friendly pages your site has the better. If you are currently using a non-mobile-friendly design, starting with individual pages might be a good place to start as an interim in between an entire site redesign.

But the trend lines are clear, and have been for awhile: Not only is the majority of web traffic occurring on a mobile device, but mobile apps have overtaken the PC as well, with 60% of Internet time – including apps – taking place on a mobile device.

What things are Google looking for to produce its mobile search rankings?

The essence is that pages need to be easily viewed and navigable on a mobile device.

What this means:

  • Text is readable without zooming
  • Sizes are built for the screen, so the user does not to scroll horizontally or zoom in
  • There is plenty of space in between links so that individual links can be clicked on with ease

Curious to see how your site performs?

Google has made available its own Mobile-Friendly Test page, where you can type in a URL and see how you rate. More information on the update can be found here; and this page has Google’s FAQs on the update.

In terms of mobile, the future is here. And while conversion rates on mobile donation forms/e-commerce sites still trail desktop rates, the mobile conversion rate in increasing.

The bottom line is that your users and supporters (and those you are trying to recruit into being supporters) are coming to your site from a mobile device. The web is all about meeting people where they are—and right now they are on mobile.

And now if your site isn’t responsive or mobile-friendly, supporters won’t be able to find you as easily as they could yesterday.



Scott Gilman was a Senior Interactive Consultant at Blackbaud from January 2008 to May 2017, assisting non-profits with their online fundraising and marketing. He has worked on strategy development and online campaign management with organizations such as UNCF-United Negro College Fund, the Cleveland Clinic, the Carter Center, Duke Cancer Institute, Nature Canada and many more.

He relocated to Austin from New York, where he served as the Director of Online Communications for the National Center for Learning Disabilities. At NCLD Scott directed Web-related activities including content development, technology maintenance, online marketing, partnership-building and Web usage analysis. Prior to NCLD, Scott was Assistant Director of Internet Initiatives at the Jewish Federations of North America and Associate Producer at ABCNews.com.

Scott is originally from Louisville, Ky., and holds a B.A in Literature/Writing from Columbia University, a B.A. in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a M.A. in Media Studies from The New School.

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