Small business owners who don’t have a mobile-friendly website may want to consider getting one ASAP.
On April 21, Google unveiled a new algorithm for browsing its search-engine with a mobile device (cellphone, tablet, etc.). The revised formula will promote websites that are deemed “mobile-friendly,” in terms of mobile viewing and interaction, while equally concealing non-mobile-friendly sites.
“When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results,” said Google in a recent blog post. “As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns.”
The worldwide update is considered to have a “significant impact” on mobile users’ search results, according to Google.
WHAT ACTUALLY CHANGES
After the update kicks in (which could take up to a week after April 21), general searches on Google from mobile devices will no longer yield the most popular, organic results; instead, the most popular, mobile-friendly websites will appear, in ranked order.
For example: If a consumer wants to purchase a new pair of shades and searches for “sunglasses” on Google from his or her mobile device, the websites Zappos.com, 6pm.com, and Ray-ban.com are listed in the #2, #3 and #4 results spots, respectively.
After April 21, that hierarchy may very-well be shaken up.
Why? At the time this post was written, 6pm.com was not listed as a “mobile-friendly” webpage. Therefore, when “sunglasses” are searched on Google from a cellphone or tablet after the mobile-algorithm is enacted, 6pm.com will more-than-likely not show up as a front-page top result — as long as the company chooses to forgo updating its webpage.
WHY ‘MOBILE-FRIENDLY’ MATTERS
In 2015, the number of mobile users worldwide surpasses desktop users by approximately 200-million people, according to ComScore.com — essentially making a mobile-friendly website a necessity for business owners around the globe.
An independent study released by Google in 2014 focused on local businesses and the search activity of potential customers while on-the-go:
- 72 percent of consumers who searched for local information on their smartphone visited a store within 5 miles.
- 50 percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day.
“Having a great mobile site is no longer just about making a few more sales,” stated Google. “It’s become a critical component of building strong brands, nurturing lasting customer relationships, and making mobile work for you.”
FIXING THE PROBLEM
In order to avoid a setback in online revenue streams, business owners can take preventative and/or corrective measures to assure their sites do not leave their current place of prominence during Google mobile searches.
A website can be tested for its current mobile compatibility by copying and pasting the web address into the Google mobile-friendly analyzer.
If found “not mobile-friendly,” certain tactics can performed which may help to pass Google’s test: Increasing text-size, decreasing page width and spacing out in-page links will improve a site’s chances of getting recognized as “mobile-friendly.”