Google might just be the only company that could ever possibly make the word “algorithm” cool. That’s exactly what the online search giant did this week, when it changed its, yes, search algorithm to essentially favor websites that are mobile friendly. Ultimately, Google said to the world: Be mobile optimized or be gone.
And with that, a move that some were calling “mobilegeddon,” companies began scrambling to ensure that they didn’t lose their precious SEO rankings simply because their websites can only be clearly viewed on a – gasp! – desktop or laptop computer. Content used to be king in the world of search (think videos, blogs, links, articles, etc.), but Google is now saying that content without mobility will certainly negatively impact where a website shows up on search rankings.
Now, these changes will only affect searches that are done from mobile devices, but the big secret of online search today is that many of those searches are indeed initiated by phones or tablets. Moving forward, when you do a Google search from a mobile device, search results will prioritize websites that the search engine deems "mobile-friendly" — ones that avoid software like Flash and feature larger text, easy-to-click links and a responsive design. In other words, if you have to pinch and expand when reading your site on a mobile device, Google is about to penalize you in search results.
Google has been warning businesses for years now that it would begin catering to mobile-friendly sites, as its business is increasingly dependent on the mobile consumer. Research firm comScore Inc. reports that about 30% of all searches in the last three months of 2014 were from mobile devices, and mobile search is growing at a rate of about 5% every year while desktop search is declining. The group expects mobile search to garner more than half of all Internet searches within the next three years.
If they hadn’t realized it before, Google is giving businesses a mobile wake-up call. If you want customers to find you online, you better optimize your site to be viewed on mobile devices. This isn’t something happening in the future – now is the time, if it’s not even past the time. “Some sites are going to be in for a big surprise when they find a drastic change in the amount of people visiting them from mobile devices,” said Itai Sadan, CEO of website-building service Duda, in response to Tuesday’s implementation of the new Google search algorithm.
The clear message? Go mobile now with your web presence, or be left behind – not just by the competition, but also by the search engines themselves.