If you haven’t already heard, there’s some big news out of the Google Webmaster Central Blog involving mobile content: In short, mobile friendliness is about to become a lot more important for search rankings. How much more important? That is always hard to say for sure, but we can confidently assume it’s going to significantly impact how websites show up in search results on the web — beginning April 24th.
But that’s not all. The announcement also detailed more relevant content from app indexing, which is essentially what it sounds like. Google will now use the information they’ve gained from crawling and indexing apps, to offer signed-in users useful content that is within an app they’ve installed. This change goes into effect immediately and, truth be told, it isn’t nearly as big of a deal as mobile friendliness. Google has already been indexing apps for some time; this update just puts that information to use in search results. Unless your business has an app, you don’t need to worry about this change.
Wasn’t Mobile Friendliness Already a Factor?
Sure, mobile friendliness has always been a priority for Google, and to some extent they’ve been signaling an upcoming, larger update for a while now. For instance, they’ve made continual updates to make sure that sites are configured properly and viewable on modern devices, and they’ve rolled out algorithm updates that focus on mobile and local searcher behavior.
While all those previous updates can be compared to patchwork fixes, this is rolling out a whole new blanket for the world of SEO. Google is basically telling everyone that if you want your site to show up at all in relevant search rankings, it will have to be mobile friendly. Period.
Why The Change?
It’s not hard to see why Google decided to roll out this update. In their own words, as a result of the update, “users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
But that’s a pretty vanilla line. Sure, Google cares about searchers (and they definitely care about the value of their product), but let’s not kid ourselves and say that this company of programmers and data hounds doesn’t care about the numbers, too.
So let’s take a look at some of the numbers:
- There are 1.4 billion smartphone users in the U.S.
- Approximately 60% of all online searches are performed via mobile device
- The average American spends 2 hours per day on their smartphone
- 57% of users won’t recommend companies with poor mobile sites
Those are just some of the most salient statistics. Depending on where you’re looking, there’s data about all kinds of mobile browsing behavior… but it all points toward the same thing: an increase in the trend toward mobile browsing (and, accordingly, searching). There’s no doubt that Google realizes this, and so they’ve updated their algorithm to reflect the trend. From now on, optimizing a website for mobile friendliness isn’t just going to be an auxiliary to normal SEO services — it’s going to be just as important as regular SEO. It’s going to be a mandatory part of all web design.
What Should Businesses Do?
It’s this simple: Make sure your website is responsive and mobile friendly. There are a couple ways to do this, both of which are relatively straightforward and described on the announcement page. If you discover your site isn’t mobile friendly and you don’t know how to make it so (or if you just don’t have time), consider contacting an online marketing company that offers inbound marketing services. Chances are, they’ll be eager to help you get your website ready for the update.
Come April 21st, any business that doesn’t have a mobile friendly website is going to see that reflected in a precipitous drop in the rankings and ultimately their search traffic — and that’s something no business wants to have to go through.(References: SmallBizTrends.com, Search Engine Journal)