Google doesn’t mess around.
The company announced changes today in how they crawl sites after warning that the change was coming for the last month. It's being called mobilegeddon already. If your site is not mobile friendly -- that is, if users have to tap and zoom, scroll around, and can’t really make out the text on a smartphone -- Google will penalize the site by pushing it much lower in the search engine results.
According to this New York Times report, the search will also look at features on a site such as whether users are not able to easily select a Web link or if they experience the dreaded horizontal scroll, which is the bane of any smartphone users existence.
As the popular Website platform company Squarespace told me today, it is possible that companies that have not gone to the trouble to make their site as mobile friendly as possible could lose as much as 50% of their traffic today, now that the search works differently.
Squarespace has done a good job of explaining some of the fixes many sites need to implement, such as making sure sites load quickly, minimizing the images and the image size, and testing your site for compatibility using tools like this one from Google.
The reason for the change is fairly obvious. The world is switching to mobile. For millennials in particular, browsing is an activity done on the go without a laptop or a desktop at the office. The trend became more widely known last year after comScore found in a survey that 60% of all consumers of digital content use a mobile device instead of a computer.
How will that impact business? One of the stark realizations should be that, if your company does not already have a mobile strategy in place and if your site is not already mobile friendly, it’s probably too late. You are already losing the traffic. There is a way to rebound, of course, and address the problems and shift strategies to the mobile sector, but the news today is just one of the dominoes. There are more to come. Advertisers are switching to mobile, showing ads that play before the content appears on a tablet or phone. User expectations are changing. The text has to be readable and concise. The links have to work. Rich content that requires a real browser running in Windows is going the way of the dodo bird.
The change in search is one step toward mobile dominance as users change their mindset. They want content now. They want to post on Facebook as the impulse arises. They all have cameraphones and want to capture life in real-time and respond on social channels. Society in general is shifting to a model where everyone is a broadcaster. They are not that interested in sitting down at a computer in an office anymore.
What it really means? Change now or fade away with the dinosaurs.
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