Google To Businesses: Get Mobile-Friendly Or Else

Google announced on February 26, 2015 that it will include “mobile-friendliness” as a ranking signal in mobile searches. This indicates that mobile-friendly sites will get a boost in the rankings at the expense of sites that are not mobile friendly for searches made from mobile devices.

From an overall perspective this makes sense. We all know that mobile search is rising. In fact, statistics show that as much as 60% of all searches are performed from a mobile device. And this is where Google’s announcement gets ambiguous. What is Google’s definition of a mobile device?

It would appear that the answer is not so clear-cut as we would think.

Some of the early articles infer that Google’s announcement will affect tablets or are ambiguous on this point while some of the later ones say the opposite.

Here’s the million dollar question: Do these changes impact searches made from tablets or only from smart phones?

Dan Barker of Econsultancy points out in his article Six thoughts on Google’s ‘mobile-friendly’ search announcement”, that Google has not directly mentioned if tablets are affected and Google’s own mobile testing tools focus on smart phones not tablets. A later Search Engine Watch post clearly says that tablets are not affected. So, chances are Google’s new algorithm won’t affect tablet searches yet, but we all know it’s coming. Plan accordingly.

One thing is clear, we won’t know the full impact for sure until April 21, 2015 when the change takes place.

By making an announcement of this magnitude less than 60 days before implementing it, Google has put many webmasters and company executives in a panic. 60 days is simply not enough time to completely and correctly redo an entire site unless it’s very, very small.

However, if you haven’t made plans for your site to become mobile-friendly, time is running out. Google is clearly moving toward mobile friendliness to give its users a better search experience and as a result you can expect adverse rankings at some point, for non-compliance.

For now, it appears that Google’s changes affect only mobile search, not desktop searches (or those made from tablets and laptops). However, it is only a matter of time before the changes are rolled out universally.

To get ready for these changes you need to understand how people are getting to your website. This will be very important to the retail industry, restaurants, hotels, motels, etc. where many prospects search for these establishments using smart phones.

But before you panic, analyze your website traffic using an analytics tool like Google Analytics. Depending on the results, either speed up your plans for mobile-friendly conversion or start creating a project plan and implement it.

You can also use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Tool to check out your site right now and see if Google considers it to be mobile-friendly.

One thing is clear, whatever happens on April 21st, the trend is mobile and all businesses must get on board to stay ahead.

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