April 21, 2015, Google introduced a sweeping update to its search algorithm that experts are ominously referring to as “Mobilegeddon.” Despite the admittedly sensationalist title, this update may carry very real consequences for your business’s search engine optimization (SEO) standing. The update prioritizes mobile-friendly websites for Google search results if the search is performed on a smart-phone web-browser. In an official statement, Google says it aims to help consumers, “find content that’s not only relevant and timely, but also easy to read and interact with on smaller mobile screens.” The change doesn’t affect searches from desktop computers, but since 64% of adult Americans own a smartphone — a number that, according to the Pew Research Center will only continue to grow — losing visibility to smartphone users could have catastrophic impacts on your marketing, says Hema Dey, CEO of Iffel International Inc.
According to online audience membership Score Media Matrix, Google accounts for 65% of all online searches. Market research firm Greenlight estimates that the number one result on Google’s search page garners 20-30% of clicks, with positions two and three seeing a dramatic drop-off with 5-10%, and the rest of the results receiving less than 1% each. The last time Google made a big change to its search algorithm — 2011’s “Panda” update, which sought to improve search results by weeding out low quality “content farm” or “click-bait” sights — 11% of all search results were impacted, and some businesses dropped instantly from top-spots to 10th or 11th place.
For those on the wrong end of the tradeoff, the effect was catastrophic. Less than a month after the update, Mahalo.com laid off 10% of its workforce, citing a significant dip in traffic and revenue. In 2012, Demand Media posted a $6.4 million loss, which they blamed on the Panda update. The lesson here: when Google changes their game, businesses of all size should be ready to play along. “It is tough to be the Google’s messenger as a marketing agency but it is important that people understand that the consequences are serious for businesses and choosing to ignore the changes required could be detrimental to sales and lead generation”, comments Hema Dey, CEO of Iffel International Inc.
Like the Panda update, Google’s latest tweak ultimately aims to improve the end-user’s experience, and smartphone owners will be grateful for the update in the long run. Many of us know the annoyance of trying to use our smartphone to navigate a web page designed for a computer screen with ten-times the display size; fidgeting with dropdown menus and side-bars, and using our fingers to click links designed for a mouse cursor. Thankfully, mobile-optimized web-design is becoming more and more common, but it remains an exception, rather than a rule. Website TechCrunch found that 44% of the Fortune 500 companies failed the mobile test. USA Today ran their own test of many top brands on Monday, and found that California Pizza Kitchen, Coco’s restaurants, Sees Candy, and fashion icon Versace lack mobile-friendly sites.
So should you worry about this update affecting your own Google SEO? First off, here’s the good news: if your business already has a mobile-friendly site, you’re in the clear. You shouldn’t fall any lower on Google searches, and will most likely rise a few points above your mobile-unfriendly competitors. But if your site still lacks a mobile counterpart, you’ll want to make a change, and quickly. If you’re unsure if your site complies, Google offers a “Mobile Friendly” test page [link: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/], where you can simply input your URL and see if it passes the test. If you get stuck the the team at Iffel can help also just email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Small businesses should get a bit of a pass, as well. Since smaller businesses get most of their exposure from Yelp and Google’s local search listings, they won’t be as impacted by the update. In an interview with USA Today, independent analysis Greg Sterling said, “You typically go to Google and look up car repair, for instance. The local listings show up first, not usually the website.” However, a mobile site should still be high on your marketing to-do list, as Yelp or Google searches will still lead consumers to your website, and a friendlier browsing experience will help you make that valuable first impression.
Luckily, there a number of tools at your disposal to bring your website into the mobile realm. If you’ve created your own site, start by seeing if you website host offers tools to transition your existing website. Otherwise, contact your web-designer, like Iffel International and discuss options. Just make sure you take action soon. If you need some extra motivation, pull out your smart phone, and take a look at your competitor’s website.
If you need a mobile website, the best place to start is with Iffel International: https://www.iffelinternational.com/mobile-solutions/
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