Is Your Business Prepared for Mobilegeddon?

Google say next month’s search algorithm change will be ‘significant’. Translated that means: if your website isn’t optimised for mobile, take action, or take cover.

Yes, it’s April the 1st today, but this isn’t an April Fool. There really is no avoiding it now. Your website has to work on mobile.

For many years, Google has encouraged and reacted to the relentless rise in mobile devices. As of Feb 2015, 60% of the UK now own a smartphone, and last November Google reported that mobile traffic to their site exceeded desktop traffic for the first time. This was the tipping point people have been predicting for a while. So far, this trend has meant that businesses putting off the move to mobile-friendly websites were merely missing out on whole swathes of their potential market. Estimates have ranged from a troubling 10% to a terrifying 40% of potential lost revenue, and the message was: look at all that lost opportunity.

Now, however, your existing business will feel the heat, too. Because from 21st April, 2015 Google will start actively penalising websites that aren’t mobile friendly by placing them lower in their search rankings. So if you’re currently ticking along nicely with your desktop-only site, picking up traffic and sales, and thinking ‘I’ll get around to mobile when I have to,’ well, now you have to.

All businesses without a mobile website WILL be affected

Where your business appears in Google search results will change. Quite how drastically and how rapidly is still up for debate, but previous algorithm upgrades labelled ‘significant’ by Google, such as ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’, caused considerable disruption to businesses worldwide.

And this one’s going to be much bigger. Matt Chugg, Technical Director at Voice Group, believes the next change is going to take small business by surprise. ‘For a few years now, Google’s mantra has been “mobile first”. They advise you design and build your website thinking primarily how people are going to use it, and find you, on mobile. A recent Google survey revealed that 94% of us now choose mobile to get local information – even when other devices are available. So it’s the right thing to do, and it’s what your customers want, but Google are now forcing your hand.’

‘How much will I be affected?’

Put simply, nearly all the traffic that reaches your site via mobile could disappear. For most sites, that’s a bare minimum of 25% but for some businesses, such as tourist attractions, the figure easily reaches 50%. If your site isn’t mobile optimised, after 21st April this traffic could well go in to freefall.

If you’re up to date with Google’s ranking calculations, you’ll know that Google already consider mobile usability as a factor. So what’s all the fuss about? Really, it’s  been caused by some of the comments and clarifications coming from Google itself. For instance, at the recent Search Marketing Expo in Munich, Zineb Ait Bahajji, from Google’s Webmaster Trends team stated that the new mobile-friendly algorithm change will impact search rankings more than either Panda or Penguin. It’s also the start of a permanent trend to mobile specific search. Google plan to introduce results that will highlight apps and related mobile tools.

It’s a revolution. Off with their heads…

All hope is not lost. There’s still time to get your site sorted if you act now. And you could do worse than talk to us here at Voice Group, since we built one of Cornwall’s very first mobile websites, way back in 2009, for Adrenalin Quarry.

And if you’re wondering what the bunny’s all about, take a look at our cautionary Easter tale that highlights the perils of mobile-unfriendly websites.

Read Google’s mobile search announcement here

Talk to Voice about mobilising your business