How does Google’s mobile-friendly update affect your business?


Chances are, if your business has a website, you've also heard of the importance of having a mobile-friendly website. Whether you shrugged off the suggestion or jumped on board, Google’s upcoming mobile-friendly algorithm update proves the importance of mobile search and has the potential to significantly impact your online marketing.

Globally, the amount of page views coming from mobile devices (smartphone, tablet, etc.) have increased significantly. According to Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends report, in North America, 19 percent of website page views come from mobile devices (slide nine), and this figure may be even higher for your small business. Experts are in agreement that mobile usage will continue to grow, and Google has responded with a search engine algorithm update that is set to take place on April 21.

According to Google, this update will help mobile-friendly websites rank higher than non-mobile friendly sites in search results conducted on mobile devices. Though mobile readiness is currently one of Google’s search engine optimization, or SEO, ranking factors, this update puts more pressure on businesses to make their sites mobile friendly. Starting on April 21, when someone conducts a Google search on their mobile device, mobile friendly websites will show up at the top of their search results, leaving non-mobile friendly sites at the end of the list despite their overall SEO.

The impact this update will have on your business depends on how much of your web traffic comes from mobile devices. If you use Google Analytics, start off by taking a look at your “traffic sources.” Here you will be able to see how many page views come from a mobile device, and how many come from a desktop computer. E-commerce websites should also remember that many customers start off looking at a product on their mobile device, but complete the sale on a desktop computer. Your Google Analytics will give you the most accurate information regarding mobile usage and sales.

To check your website’s mobile readiness, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. This test will give you a list of potential problems with your site that may prevent your site from showing up in mobile search results after the update. Webmasters can also use their Webmaster Tools account to get a full list of mobile usability issues.

There are less than 20 days to prepare your website for Google’s upcoming algorithm change, and this isn’t an update you should skip. Mobile usage continues to grow, and making your site mobile friendly may help it rank higher than your competitors in search results.

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Hanna Burmeister manages marketing and communication strategies for the statewide network of the Michigan Small Business Development Center, or MI-SBDC, based at GVSU. She promotes the SBDC’s services through written success stories, videography, social media, print and online channels. She is also an active member of the planning committee for Michigan Celebrates Small Business, the state’s yearly small business awards ceremony. Burmeister enjoys using her skills and passion to promote Michigan’s entrepreneurial talent. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations from MSU and an M.P.A. from GVSU.