The writing may have been on the walls for years, but it took an announcement from Google to make it real: Having a mobile-friendly, responsive website can be critical to a business' success. And the search giant seems to have made it even clearer with a new announcement.
As of Tuesday, Google is prioritizing mobile-optimized websites in search results on smartphones, boosting sites that are mobile-friendly (e.g., loads quickly on devices, has responsive design, etc.) and demoting those that aren't. Sites that may have been on the front page of a search word may be pushed several links down on the page—if not pushed off the front page entirely.
While this shouldn't affect desktop and laptop browsing, Google's news seems to reflect how people are conducting their searches for information these days: on their smartphones. According to comScore, 184 million people own smartphones, and Google Search is the fourth most popular app used on said phones (51.5 percent, behind Facebook, YouTube and GooglePlay).
"There's a shock [to the news], and small-business owners are very nervous—especially the ones that depend on search; i.e., restaurants [and] businesses that have spent years and years dominating Google search pages for their products and services," says Ari Zoldan, CEO of Quantum Networks. "Now they may get pushed back to the 10th space."
"Mobilegeddon"—as the announcement is being called by search experts—may be upon us, but small-business owners needn't panic.
"It is a game changer, but I don’t think it’s that bad," Zoldan allows. "Having said that, I think it’s very important that small businesses start making their sites a lot more mobile friendly."
And for good reason—according to a study conducted by Google, 84 percent of consumers use search engines to gather information for local purchases. If your business is buried, that could mean a lost sale.
There are a number of businesses that cater to small-business owners in need of responsive Web design help (Zoldan suggests looking into Duda Mobile, Network Solutions and Onbile). And Google has created a guide for anyone who wants to make their website mobile friendly, which includes a test to see if your site is mobile friendly to begin with.
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