This month Google is scheduled to make a change to its algorithm to help users find more ‘mobile-friendly’ content. With this change imminent, I’ve decided to explain why your company needs to focus on making its website mobile-friendly to manage its reputation online.
Google to change its algorithm
Mark the 21 April 2015 down in your calendars. This is the day that the latest change to Google’s all-important algorithm comes into effect.
The algorithm is the formula Google uses to determine which pages appear when a user types something into the search bar. The search engine uses over 200 criteria to determine this formula. Google regularly implements updates to this criteria to make searches more relevant to users.
One of these factors is mobile usability. The more ‘mobile-friendly’ a website, the higher it ranks on a Google search across all platforms, even desktop devices according to Entrepreneur.com. Until now the ranking factor of the mobile-usability of a website was ambiguous and limited in scope.
Google to reward mobile-friendly websites
This is set to change on 21 April 2015, when Google rolls out an algorithm update. It has been designed to reward websites that are optimised for mobile-usage by expanding the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on searches.
Truthfully, no-one knows what this update will entail, however according to Search Engine Journal, the change is likely to have a big impact. Many Google updates are simple data refreshes, however some, such as ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’ algorithms, have systematically changed the way the Google algorithm ranks websites. For example, when the Panda algorithm was rolled out, figures from Wired show that it affected 12% of search queries.
The 21 April update will encapsulate websites written in every language in the world. It will impact every website and reorder them, in the rankings, based on how compatible they are with mobile devices. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s less likely to rank on Google for a search your company’s name.
The rising popularity of mobile-searches
This suggests that if your website isn’t mobile-friendly and the majority of its visitors arrive via a mobile device, then you need to act. If you don’t, it will affect the amount of traffic to your website, which will cause it slip down the rankings on a Google search for your key search terms, for example your business name.
The change, however, only affects Google searches conducted on a mobile device. Some would say that if a company doesn’t wish to engage with customers via mobile technology, they don’t need to update their website to ensure it ranks on the first page of a Google search for their name carried out on other devices such as a desktop.
Technically, this is true. However statistics tell us, that if you don’t make your company website mobile-friendly, there’s a good chance that you will fail to engage with a large share of your target audience, which could affect your profit margins.
Figures compiled by Comscore in 2014 show that “mobile platforms – smartphones and tablets – combined to account for 60% of total digital media time spent, up from 50% a year ago.” While, data from Ofcom shows that by the first quarter of 2014, 61% of UK adults had a smartphone, a number set to grow.
What will happen to your online reputation if your site isn’t mobile-friendly?
Data from the World Economic Forum shows that 25% of a company’s net worth can be attributed to its reputation. Think what could happen if your company faces a reputation issue and you haven’t made your online assets mobile-friendly?
You may be able to use online reputation management to ensure these assets rank for a search carried out on Google for your company name via desktop and laptop, but will you be able to ensure your online assets rank and displace unwanted content for a Google search carried out via mobile?
How to make your digital assets mobile-friendly
To promote your business, and your reputation online properly, best practice is to make sure any digital assets – such as websites, blogs and online profiles, that you own and operate are mobile-friendly.
Check how compatible your website is with mobile devices by using Google’s mobile-friendly test. Just put your site’s URL into the bar on the page and follow the instructions.
Make sure your site and other digital assets rank on Google once the update comes into effect. To do this:
- Promote websites, blogs, and social and professional media profiles so Google associates them with a search for your key search terms.
- Update your digital assets with fresh, relevant, ‘mobile-friendly’ content e.g. content optimised to appear in a search conducted with a mobile device, on a regular basis.
- Examine your company’s social media and PR strategies to ensure that they rank for your search term and are compatible with mobile platforms.
- Issue guides and e-books to promote you and your business as an industry authority, which users can rely on when they search for your sector on mobile and other devices.
- Implement any necessary changes to ensure that users can navigate your site easily when they access it with a mobile device. Best practices for mobile friendly configurations include responsive design, dynamic serving and separate mobile URLs.
Make your company website mobile-friendly
I have already seen how mobile-compatibility has come to play a large role in online reputation management. Once this update comes into effect, this role will only become more prominent. Ensure your company website is mobile-friendly if you want to better manage your reputation online.