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How will ‘Mobilegeddon’ affect your business online?

5 Burning questions about Google’s new mobile friendly algorithm.

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In little more than 24 hours Google techies will unleash their new mobile friendly algorithm aimed to ensure websites are more mobile friendly. This latest algorithm follows hot on the heels of previous major algorithm updates such as Hummingbird (Aug 2013), Penguin (April 2012) and Panda (Feb 2011) and just like it’s illustrious predecessors has been designed with the  goal of delivering high quality content to users. The difference this time however is that the content being delivered is specific to users searching on a mobile device. In a nutshell, mobile optimized sites will show up more prominently during mobile search than a non- mobile optimized site.

1. What will change?

At the moment the mobile ranking of a website tends to be tied to the ranking strength of the desktop site. If you rank well on a desktop SERP, you will usually rank well on a mobile SERP as well. There has always been a suggestion by Google that the mobile-friendliness of your website could impact your organic rankings. This suggestion is about to become fact.

On April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results – Google

 

 2. How will the new mobile algorithm affect my business?

Let’s assume you’re a business owner who sells Sunglasses Online. Let’s also assume that your business ranks highly in organic search for a number of keywords across desktop, tablet and mobile. As a result of this success you receive a lot of traffic to your site resulting in a generous number of inquiries and/or sales.

From 21st April, your business may not show up during mobile search unless your site is mobile responsive or you have a separate mobile site. Competitor sites who have optimized their sites may leapfrog you in the pecking order or conversely drop down the pecking order if they have not. It’s important to note that this change only affects mobile search and not desktop or tablet.

3. Why are Google targeting mobile?

It’ll be of no surprise to hear that mobile use has exploded over the last 10 years. In fact The Communications Marketing Report 2014 published statistics showing that  Smartphone usage has risen from 39% in 2011, to 51% in 2012 and 61% in 2013. Google, just like any business has to keep one step ahead of its competitors. By implementing these changes it sticks by its mantle of delivering quality content in a quality format. If Google delivered poor quality search results by serving up websites that were difficult to navigate or read, users would become frustrated, Google search would lose credibility and customers would likely use another search engine.

4. Does anyone buy anything using a mobile phone?

Yes and no – In today’s society where households have been shown to navigate the web across a multitude of platforms, Mobile has been shown to play an important role in a consumer’s decision making process.

Research has shown that generally an individual will turn to their mobile phone first thing in the morning, their desktop during the day whilst in work and their tablet during the evening. If you’re in the market for a pair of sunglasses you may well start your buying journey first thing in the morning on your mobile and finally purchase your sunglasses in the evening on your tablet after having completed your research during your lunch break on your desktop. It’s probably also fair to say that if you visit 3 sites on your mobile, 2 of which are poorly designed and difficult to read it’s likely you would dismiss these sites at an early stage of your research and return to the one that’s easier to navigate.

Remember, as online consumers we are very fickle. Dont give potential customers a reason to navigate away to a competitor site.

5. As a business owner what should I be doing?

Google have been warning Webmasters of the need to upgrade their clients websites for some time during the lead up to this algorithm release. Any SEO company worth their monthly fee will have discussed any change requirements with you already. If you are still unsure as to whether your site is mobile friendly (in the eyes of Google) you can test it out by using Google’s mobile friendly test. You can also read Google’s mobile guidelines here.

Personally, I’d recommend you discuss the outcome of this test with your SEO Company to see what changes, if any, need to be made. Ensure that you stay one step ahead of your competition. Mobile is not going away and neither are Google. It’s wise to keep ahead of the game.

Paul Rees is the Director of Digital Marketing at Red Kite Digital Ltd, Cardiff, UK

For further information or a free consultation regarding your website and SEO needs contact Red Kite Digital Ltd. on 02920 530745

 

Hand holding a phone. Cardiff digital marketing

Lloyd’s research highlights lack of online investment by UK SME’s.

Ecommerce via mobileThere are many things that the UK are well known leaders at. In sport, our Premier League is the best footballing export in the world with over 4.7 billion viewers annually. In business, the UK attracts 2.5 times greater foreign investment than that of Germany and France combined whilst in Education, Cambridge University has been named the best University in the world having toppled it’s great adversary Harvard from the top spot. Something you may not be aware of is the UK now beats the rest of the developed world  in something quite different – Internet buying and selling. Yep, that’s right, Britain is officially the world leader in e-commerce. In fact, a whopping 8% of the UK’s GDP is now accounted for by the digital economy. This makes the UK one of the strongest online economies with current estimates forecasting a rise to over 12% by 2016.

Just in case you needed any further convincing of our online prowess, during Boxing Day 2013 British internet users made 129m visits to retail websites. That’s the biggest shopping day on record and up 15% on 2012. That’s roughly 2 website visits for every Man, Woman and Child living in the UK in one day.  Over half of the visits during this boxing day shopping extravaganza were made via a mobile phone.

So, with this in mind I was pretty surprised to read an excellent piece of research published by Lloyd’s bank. The research reviewed the current online capabilities of nearly 2000 of their UK based business customers. This research offered intriguing insights into the current digital maturity of Britain’s businesses especially for Digital Marketers like me.

The research claims, among other things, that of the 1,988 companies which took part in the research 50% had no website. Amazingly, of the half that did have a website only a third are using it for anything more advanced than providing information like an online brochure.

Now, you would think given the impressive UK figures I quoted earlier that the majority of UK companies would be digitally savvy with a killer website and twitter account to boot but it seems ‘No’. Indeed, in 39% of cases the main barrier to implementing a greater online presence was a lack of interest in doing more online or an unfortunate belief that doing more online was irrelevant to them.

At the other end of the scale digitally mature SME’s and charities say they are already realizing the benefits of digital which are primarily a wider reach and exposure across the UK. To add to this, 76% of digitally mature respondents expressed confidence in their future prospects as opposed to a far more negative outlook from the less digitally mature.

My experience through friends, associates and clients with or without an online presence is quite varied. Despite my chosen line of work I actually admire businesses who are currently surviving through ‘word of mouth’  alone. After all, there is no better endorsement than a personal recommendation that results in a new client.This type of recommendation says a lot about the quality of a service or a product. However, I say , with a great big flashing warning sign – DON’T REST ON YOUR LAURELS, Generation Y  (born between ’81 and ’00) are coming up the ranks and all they know is digital. A large proportion of Generation X are pretty digital savvy too and you can bet your bottom dollar that a high number of your closest competitors are investing in their online visibility for this very reason. If you don’t believe me just enter your service or product into a local search engine and see who appears. These names do not appear by luck.

Every business needs a long term strategy and these days a digital marketing plan should be part of your over-arching business plan. If it isn’t and the ‘word of mouth’ business does dry up you may well find yourself 1 to 2 years behind your competition and in today’s competitive world that could spell disaster.

In an interesting article by Booze & Co it was suggested that Britain’s SME’s could unlock an additional £18.8bn of incremental revenue by optimizing their use of digital technologies. Imagine that – The UK already leads the way, we’d be unstoppable!

The Sunday Times recently ran an article about a young female butcher from Newcastle who had set up her own website and blog. It was this entrepreneurial online vision that led her sales to increase by 40%. That’s the kind of impact an online presence can have on a business, even a business which you wouldn’t necessarily expect to benefit. Surely it’s better to turn down prospective clients than risk a downturn in word of mouth referrals?

I’m going to leave the last word to a well published and highly respected business strategist by the name of Michael Porter who back in 2001 famously said of internet technology..

” The key question is not whether to deploy internet technology…companies have no choice… but how to deploy it”

For those of you who have yet to deploy it – Beware!

Paul Rees is the Director of Digital Marketing at Red Kite Digital Ltd, Cardiff, UK