Google has announced a change to be rolled out on April 21st that will affect websites where the majority of the traffic is from mobile devices.
For small businesses who have been putting off optimising their websites for mobile use, now’s the time.
To announce a change to its algorithm BEFORE it is released is totally out of character for Google so small businesses cannot say they haven’t been warned.
Usually the search community finds out about any such changes when there are fluctuations to website rankings or there is considerable chatter on the forums about other sites being impacted.
In a recent blog post, Google stated that as of April 21, there will be increased weight given to the mobile-friendliness of sites: “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimised for their devices.”
The search community has speculated that this will be a bigger impacting change than the Panda and Penguin updates ever were because of the number of websites that are still not mobile optimised.
For small business, the first step would be to check your analytics accounts to see how much traffic you currently receive from Google as well as other search engines. Then go a little further and see how much of that search engine traffic comes in from a smart/mobile/handheld device.
Next, go and test your website on the free mobile friendly testing tool provided by Google to see whether your current site is compatible with smart devices and is usable.
Once you have this information you will be able to see the percentage of your current site traffic coming from Google, the percentage of that is attributed to mobile, and whether your website is mobile search friendly.
If it’s not, then you need to do some work pretty quickly otherwise you will be likely to jeopardise that traffic that you’ve been receiving.
I would predict that the next change to look out for on the horizon from Google will be about site performance considering how closely it ties in with mobile friendly sites.
In light of the way Google has historically made large changes and updates to any of its algorithms, I would be comfortable to speculate that this change will be no different. There will be an initial release in the US and a following release into a global algorithm soon thereafter.
If you’re a small business in Australia it’s time to make sure your website is mobile optimised because after April 21st, you could be missing out on a huge amount of traffic and your ranking might drop.
Kavit Shah is Senior Manager SEO at Sensis