Everyone, from bloggers, local businesses, and brand giants, braced for a major search engine shakeup that Google officially rolled out on April 21st. While the larger corporations were aware and most likely prepared for Google’s search algorithm update, many businesses are still in the dark about what exactly changed and how it affects their website from being found in Google searches.
Google is penalizing non-mobile friendly websites
For those of us not up to date with our internet marketing news, Google has taken an official stance that penalizes websites that are not optimized for mobile phone viewing, and reversely benefit websites that do.
Your website is considered mobile optimized if it includes easily readable text without having to zoom in, and automatically resizes your website’s words and images to fit a phone’s screen size (thus preventing the need for scrolling). Unless you’re a savvy internet marketer, a major brand with a slew of mobile marketing professionals, or simply an internet junkie who has the time and resources to pour into optimizing for these changes, chances are you are vulnerable to this major rollout made by Google, and all others yet to come in the future.
But before you sprint to open a new browser to check if your website still appears on the interwebs, or if your visitor traffic has plummeted in Google Analytics, read on.
Chances are if you didn’t have the resources to make these mobile friendly adjustments prior to Google’s update, you still won’t have resources after. Oh, and it gets worse: Google rolls out dozens of these search engine updates every year. Most are not as impactful as this past week’s changes, but it can take teams of internet experts to properly implement changes across websites to keep up with the ever-changing search engine climate.
What your small business can do about it
As always, however, there’s a silver lining for those who have actually seen their website traffic impacted by the update (let’s hope you’re reading this recreationally as your website still sits in the top position).
First, damages can be undone. If you are among the lucky few to have the time and knowledge to implement SEO best practices for both the mobile and desktop experiences, stop reading this article and implement them immediately. For those who can’t, take comfort in knowing that many of your business competitors or blog brethren were also likely impacted. If you want to invest in a mobile-optimized site, take the following key points into consideration.
- Check out how mobile friendly your website is using Google’s tool here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
- Construct a separate mobile version of your website, adjusting for the amount of content (images and words), layout of icons, and navigation flow.
- If you choose to mirror the desktop version of your website, be sure to use canonical tags on your mobile pages to avoid having two websites with all the same content since Google also penalizes duplicate content.
- Create prominent calls-to-action. Phone numbers are king on mobile websites: there is nothing more frustrating for customer visiting a website that doesn’t have a click-to-call phone number.
What we can learn from Mobilegeddon
If your website and/or business relies heavily on mobile traffic (which it most certainly does) and you have not made efforts to implement the most basic of mobile website best practices, you’re cooking with kerosene (I think that’s a saying, right?). Follow the prescription provided above and stay up to date on the newest and latest changes.
Also, double down on offline channels that can help you hedge your bets. I’ve seen internet based companies rely entirely on their ability to be found via search engine, only to watch the Google team strike them from the results for any number of infractions. If you have the opportunity to build a database of your customers’ contact information (names, emails, phone numbers, etc.), do it. Enabling your small business to communicate with your core audience of customers through other channels like email, print, and text message can be vital to ensuring that your business doesn’t depend entirely on Google (or any other search engine for that matter).