As Google Doubles Down on Mobile, How Can SMBs Keep Pace?

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Google has been refocusing its efforts to create a “better web” by not only increasing the importance of mobile-friendly websites and better mobile browsing experiences but by fundamentally redefining what the mobile web experience is altogether. A recent rollout of the mobile-friendly algorithm boost, a new mobile-friendly website tool, and the announcement of accelerated mobile pages and progressive web applications all point to better mobile experiences for users but also new challenges for business owners.

The effects and aftermath of “mobilegeddon”
At around this time last year, there was a lot of hype (and even panic) leading up to the much anticipated “mobilegeddon” — when Google began to officially recognize “mobile-friendliness” as one of it’s many (200+) ranking factors for mobile search. While the rollout of this algorithm was slightly slower than expected and the impact not quite as big as some people in the industry had feared, it certainly made some waves.

Varying studies across different industries and verticals (especially the ones that looked at the data across a longer period of time) did show an increase of traffic/ranking to mobile-friendly sites and a decrease in traffic/ranking to non-mobile optimized sites, specifically when related to mobile searches and browsing. However, even though “mobilegeddon” was not dramatic as originally feared, Google was able to improve the searcher’s experience and the mobile web. Meanwhile, all of the hype, press, and hysteria from both inside and outside of the industry resulted in rapid adoption of mobile friendly websites. One study found that 25% of non-mobile friendly websites had made the switch before d-day.

Still not mobile-friendly?
In order to continue to rank in the search engines, merchants have to provide customers with a great mobile experience or risk being penalized. In the United States, 94% of smartphone owners search for local information on their phone. This fact along with many others means that businesses with non-mobile friendly sites risk:

  • A drop in mobile site traffic
  • Lower mobile ranking in organic search results
  • Lower quality score for paid search
  • Higher bounce rates on mobile devices
  • Lower conversion rates
  • Losing business to your competitors and frustrating their loyal customers and more

But this story is just beginning
Currently, having a mobile friendly website is a competitive advantage for your business. However, in the future, just having a mobile-friendly site will not be enough — as Google will likely deepen its focus on not just if your site is mobile friendly, but how optimized it is for mobile. If your website is already mobile-friendly, now would be a great time to check up on your mobile experience and see if there is any room for improvement.

  • Check your speed, how fast is your site to load? Mobile users are impatient and may be browsing on slower cell networks
  • Are forms easy to fill out on a mobile device?
  • If you have an ecommerce store, is the checkout flow optimized for mobile?

What’s the next chapter in the Google Mobilegeddon story?
Ultimately, Google will continue to pressure site owners to provide a better user experience, aligning what consumers want with how they rank websites in the SERP. With the rollout of the mobile-friendly “boost” last week, I think it is fair to assume that Google is just getting started and will continue to regard mobile user experience as an increasingly important ranking factor.  The aforementioned accelerated mobile pages (AMP) and progressive web applications (PWA) programs, while not officially ranking factors give a little insight into how much focus Google has in standardizing and improving the mobile web — moving away from desktop first websites and evolving mobile websites into a more native app-esque experience.

MattM-Headshot1Matt Matergia leads North American business development efforts for mono solutions, a SaaS-based platform built for resellers to design, deliver, and manage professional responsive websites and e-commerce sites for small and medium-sized businesses. Matt can be reached on Twitter and Instagram.