by Anna Stanuch
In April 2015, Google changed its algorithm for ranking websites on Google search results pages. If a website is not mobile-friendly, it will be less likely to appear on the first page of the results. It applies only to searches made on smartphones. The algorithm remains unchanged for the searches on tablets, laptops and desktops.
Even though the change seems to be quite logical – why a site should appear in the search if it cannot be properly accessed? – it caused panic in the business world and even got the name “Mobilegeddon”.
The panic was probably caused by the memory of the deeply traumatic Panda and Penguin updates, which targeted illegitimate backlinks and poor quality content. Those two cute animals hurt millions of websites severely, and many of them haven’t recovered yet.
This time the update proved to have much milder consequences, but still caused some suffering.
So, should you worry about the Google Mobile-Friendly Update?
Yes, you should if you are a leader of a large organization like Microsoft or European Union. Otherwise, sleep well. It is not THAT MUCH about small and medium businesses this time.
There are two main reasons why SMEs weren’t hit as hard as large entities:
- It is much easier to mobile optimise a small website than a huge one.
Most of the large organisations invested a lot of time, money and human talent into building massive, heavy sites. Keeping themselves busy with this mission, they completely ignored the growing percentage of searches made on phones versus computers. I think, nobody really believed that smartphones would become so affordable for so many people in such short time.
Now, all those gigantic websites need to be rebuilt to be mobile-friendly or new ones need to be built from scratch.
If you are an owner of a ‘lean’ site comprising only a few pages not overloaded with fancy widgets and multimedia, you can call yourself lucky. It is relatively easy to adjust it for mobiles or to build a new one. If you did it fast after the update or if your site had already been mobile friendly, you gained a significant competitive edge over the big businesses during the time they need for ‘refurbishing’.
- You don’t really need a mobile website (however you could benefit from having one).
While it is awkward not to have a website at all for any kind of company, the necessity of owning a special mobile website is not that obvious for local businesses.
People may take pleasure from admiring a lovely design of a beauty salon website when they see it on a computer. They can be tempted to spend some time on it and enjoy the visual experience.
But when they search on a mobile, they just need to know where the salon is, when it is open, how much is bikini waxing and if there is a special offer at the very moment.
And they want this information fast, without too much clicking involved.
Therefore, you can forgive yourself if you don’t have a proper mobile website, but make sure to register in Google My Business. Well, you must do this even if you DO have a mobile website. This free service makes your company visible on Google Maps and Google+ along with the information about the phone number, opening hours, rating, even price range.
If you have a website visible in search results, the additional information will be seen there, too. So, simply by registering in Google My Business your company will take much more space on a search result page than the one which haven’t done so. You literally push your competition down the page.
Additionally, consider using AdWords for mobile. http://www.equateweb.com/is-the-mobile-friendly-update-your-worry/ http://www.equateweb.com/is-the-mobile-friendly-update-your-worry/ http://www.equateweb.com/is-the-mobile-friendly-update-your-worry/You can make good use of your money in several ways here.
- Use location targeting – your ads will be visible only for people in close proximity to your business; it is quite unlikely that a person searching on mobile in Blanchardstown will go to have pizza in Malahide; she probably wants to have this pizza right now; if she were searching for a nice place for her husband’s birthday party following week and wouldn’t mind driving there, the chances are she would rather use a computer at home;
- Use a location bid adjustment – bid more when a search takes place close to you; it is quite evident that closer a person is to your place, more likely is that she will buy from you when she sees your ad; don’t waste your money on people who do not intend to come to you;
- Use add extensions, especially location and call – first one gives a prompt, highly useful information for a potential customer, who is likely to be very close to you and the latter allows to make a phone call just by touching a button; ads with extensions cost the same as without and not only they make your ad more functional, but also push your competition down by taking more space on a search page. Extensions also contribute to improving the Quality Score and thus AdRank.
All in all, not having a mobile website doesn’t mean you cannot be visible on people’s phones, neither being a small company means that you do not have to be visible.
I fact, the growing trend of using mobile devices for searching information is a great chance for local small businesses. It is very hard to compete online with big players if you want to sell globally. But being just around the corner is a huge advantage if you target the people who want a product or service right now.