If you consider yourself an entrepreneur that tends to go keep up-to-date with business and technological trends, then the latest mobile-friendly algorithm update from Google may not be impacting you and your business as much as some websites out there. If you are in an industry or run a company that isn’t particularly tech savvy or doesn’t appreciate the value of a website in the marketplace and are still using that 2 page website made by a mate a decade ago, the chances are you may need a refresh sometime soon.
What is it?
In a nutshell the new Google Algorithm update is set to appear across the search world on the 21st of April, it will essentially impact the ranking of your site for all mobile related search terms, so if you have a more responsive or mobile-friendly website than a competitor in your field, then your website will be rewarded, if on the other hand you have a non-friendly website then you are likely to be penalised for it.
It’s hard to ignore the statistics when looking at mobile search visits now in the UK as to whether you should act on making a website more mobile-friendly, if you consider yourself a logical businessperson then the stats are pretty impressive when looking at the potential market out there, which is why Google are trying to improve the search function.
Results collaborated by Ofcom in the Adults’ Media Use & Attitudes Report 2014, showed that approximately 83% of adults go online in some form, breaking down to around 62% accessing from a smartphone alone, these results are predominantly between the 16-24 & 24-34 age group, but attitudes are still changing from 65-75 age group who are twice as likely to be using a smartphone in 2014 than in 2012. Breaking this down to the bottom line for an average ecommerce business 1 in 3 buy products online, with roughly 98% of people using search engines for general searches on Google and Bing and others.
Why Google are Doing this?
What it comes down to really is improving the usability and user experience for the searcher, it’s these people that are likely to be searching again and again and making the search as painless and care free as possible for the end-user is an important factor to consider and a reason why Google are such a popular search engine as they’ve mostly been able to anticipate and mould what a searcher wants, as well as the increase in mobile device usage and the improvement in infrastructure and reduced costs of mobile data. Google will aim to reward businesses that have a better user experience for mobile users; the speed of a website will therefor be a contributing factor to how a site will fair up, data load speed is a huge factor when loading a website on a device for an end user. UX factors such as spacing of buttons to minimise typographical errors, easy clickable buttons and generally comfortable navigation, reducing the need to scroll and zoom is a contributing factor.
Is my Website Mobile Friendly?
You can easily check whether or not your site is mobile-friendly or responsive, Google have a provided a tool allowing you to check for yourself, www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ - just add in your web address and it will tell your website is mobile friendly. Another really quick check to see whether or not your site is responsive is to use a browser such as Chrome and resize the window by dragging it to a rough size and shape to a mobile device or tablet device, this will give a general idea as to whether or not your website responds to the size of any screen.
As mentioned previously the load speed of a website is also something to consider, there are plenty of tools out there but we like using http://tools.pingdom.com, this will show you how your website performs on a whole and would give a broad idea if there is anything outstanding to have your web agency address.
What to do Next?
The algorithm is not something to be overly concerned about just yet and it’s completely dependant on how competitive your industry is and the nature of your services. This algorithm is rumoured to only effect people searching from a mobile device, any desktop searches should remain the same, but if a large majority of customers do currently use a device then this may need to be a bigger priority for your business.
For a broad idea of what type of visitors visit your brand use website tracking tools such as Google Analytics to access the percentage of users coming in from a mobile device. I would recommend aiming to factor in and budget a website refresh over the next year, to prevent any long-term impact and really get with the times.
Getting with the Times is not Going to Cost the Earth
A common big concern for companies when reinvesting in things such as a website is the initial outlay and perceived cost and benefit that this would have on the company, things such as stock, staff, premises and equipment are all tangible items that you may see more value in or can see a clear financial return on these. A website is considered a shop front, and to some degree keeping a shabby looking old website can possibly damage your brand and image from potential customers. There are lots of web agencies out there, both in the UK and abroad, creating specialist or simple websites for SME’s and a lot of competition, which means that a website getting more a little more competitive in pricing. A majority of professional web design and development agencies will more than likely factor in a responsive design when creating websites and is a growing standard within the industry.