Google’s latest changes and what they mean for your business
- by Urszula Richards
- 15 April 2015
I have already had a few people ask me about this upcoming change on the 21st of April 2015.
By way of background, for those just new to this online world - Google seems to be the main place people go when they are searching for …. well … ANYTHING.
Google's main focus is, and always has been, to provide a search experience which is likely to produce the BEST result for what any searcher is looking for.
To this end, it has to have criteria for what a 'good' result is.
Every now and again, Google make changes to their criteria - in web speak this is called an algorithm - which basically means a formula which automated google robots can apply to determine if your site is a good fit for what someone is actually looking for.
When these changes to the algorithm are made, it often affects the number of visits to your website - in a good or a bad way. Google have this cute way of naming these major algorithm adjustments - names such as Panda, and Penguin. Not sure what they are calling this one - maybe they announce it with a big fan fare on the day, like an apple product launch :)
A change is coming on the 21st of April 2015.
This particular change is in response to the fact that a vast majority of people now use mobile devices as well as laptops and desktop computers to search for information.For a number of years now, best practice in website design has been to build website in a responsive way.>
What does responsive mean?
It means, that when you are viewing a website on a mobile device, you do not need to squint, enlarge the text, ask someone else to read it for you, or do anything to be able to access the content easily.
In fact, the design has been made to be easily seen and understood on both mobile and larger devices.
Do they look the same? No, and that is the challenge (for designers & developers).
A few years back having a responsive / mobile friendly website built cost A LOT - because everyone was learning. Luckily for the geek nature of this industry, it has evolved, and responsive design tends to be built in - although understandably it still costs a bit more with the design and implementation of the various layouts.As you can imagine, Google feels websites built in this way are more customer-focused and therefore more relevant.
It has decided to give a higher ranking in its criteria for anyone whose site is responsive or mobile friendly.
What it will mean, and what it won’t mean
- If people are searching for your business by name, or type in your domain name directly, there will be no change - Google will assume they are looking for YOU
- If people are searching for your type of service or product using keywords, but not YOU specifically, and they are on a laptop or desktop, where you show up in the results will not change significantly
- But if they are searching for your type of service or product using keywords, on a mobile device, this is where your ranking will drop significantly if your site is not optimised for mobile devices / responsive.
What this means for you
I was going to start by suggesting you look at your statistics to see what percentage of your ideal audience access your site via a mobile.
But I’m going to be more frank. You really need to start thinking about converting to mobile. The trend is not going away and will only increase.
How urgent this is for your business, will depend on how established your name and brand is with your customers and new referrals (ie. if most of your referrals are word of mouth it won’t matter as much - as people will be passing on your name and they will find you).
But if you are aiming for new leads from online searches - then you really need to consider doing something soon.
Contact your website partner to find out what the best next steps for you areIt may be a good time to look at the next version of your website, or simply get a quote for making what you have responsive
For some other perspectives on what this means...
By the way ... I'm in the same boat as you. I have a non-responsive website created some years ago, and am in the process of both reviewing what message I want my website to convey, as well as updating it to a responsive format. This takes time, and while I can't rush it, I can't avoid it!