Google’s Pigeon update was a beneficial update for local businesses. It provided more useful local search engine results, and really changed the way local businesses were found on the web. But on April 21, 2015, Google came out with another update that could possibly hurt local businesses.
With the staggering number of people searching on their mobile phones, Google has changed its algorithm to account for the level of “mobile-friendliness.” What does this mean? Sites not optimized to be mobile friendly will get penalized and bumped down in the search engine rankings. Searches will no longer provide the most popular sites, it will be providing the most popular sites that are also mobile-friendly.
Why the focus on mobile friendly websites? A study conducted by Google in 2014 showed that 72% of shoppers search for local information using their smartphone. Of those searchers, 50% of them visited a store within one day. Google has explained that in order for a site to be considered mobile-friendly, the text should be easily seen on a phone, without having to enlarge the screen.
What does this mean for local businesses? Small businesses that once ranked high in the search engine results will no longer be seen by searchers unless their site is optimized for phone screens.
In order to avoid any setbacks or loss of revenue, local business owners need to correct their websites in order to maintain their current rank in Google searches. Use this test from Google Developers to check if yours is already mobile-friendly before making any changes.
If your site doesn’t make the cut, the best thing you can do is switch to a responsive design. A responsive design will make your site to automatically adjust according to whatever device the searcher is using. Whether big or small, landscape or portrait, the theme will automatically switch. It’s a great, one-time, solution to updating your site.
Google’s latest update impacts a lot of sites across the web, especially local businesses. With such emphasis on smartphones today, Google is catering to these users. To avoid being penalized in the ranking, make sure your site is mobile-friendly today.