One of the biggest Internet trends of the past half decade or so is the rise of mobile-based browsing. With the ever increasing number of smartphones and cheaper data plans, mobile Internet browsing is set to surpass desktop. Because of this, Google has recently introduced a slight change to their mobile search results that could have a big impact on sites that aren’t mobile optimized.
First, a bit of background
Earlier this year, Matt Cutts from Google indicated that the company was on track to see the number of worldwide mobile Google Search queries surpass the number of desktop-based Google Search queries. This makes sense when you take into account the fact that there are an estimated 5+ billion mobile devices in the world, and only around 2 billion computers.
What figures like this mean is that mobile devices are quickly becoming the main way people use the Internet. Think about it for a second, when you suddenly want to find out some information online, you will often not be around a computer but will almost certainly always have your mobile device at the ready.
This trend will only increase, as more people spend more online time on their mobile devices. Essentially, the more people search on Google using their mobile device the more mobile traffic is driven to websites. Chances are, the number of mobile visits to your site has been increasing. Some businesses like those in the service industry, have seen the number of mobile visits on their sites increase year-on-year.
Google’s recent Search for mobile change
In early July the company announced that, “In English search results in the US, we will indicate to searchers when our algorithms detect pages that may not work on their devices.” What this means is that when using Google Search on your mobile device you should see a warning message in the results list. This message will show up under the site name and address and will tell you that some page elements aren’t compatible with mobile devices and therefore won’t load.
For example, if you search for a restaurant and one of the pages in the results has an Adobe Flash-based site – which isn’t usually supported by most mobile operating systems – you will see a warning, telling you the site may not load correctly.
What does this mean for my business’s site?
The major issue here is that many businesses have sites that have been written in older programming languages, like Adobe Flash, which are no longer used by the major mobile systems. If a mobile user sees that your site won’t load properly on their mobile device, there is an extremely high chance that they will ignore it. This in turn means a likely decrease in the number of page visits and potential business.
Google has noted that they will not penalize sites not catering to mobile devices by showing them lower in mobile-based search results. But you can bet that sites with code that is not understood by mobile devices will see a decrease in traffic and over time come down lower in the results.
What can my business do?
Let’s face it, mobile is here to stay so it would be a good idea to ensure your site is mobile optimized – it doesn’t have to be strictly mobile, but it needs to be accessible and readable on mobile devices. The first thing we recommend is to grab a mobile device – iOS or Android 4.1 and newer – and search for your site using the major search engines. When you find it, try to load the pages. If you can’t load the site, or see blank pages then you need to take steps to fix that.
In other words, if your site is older than a couple of years, you may want to think about redesigning, or modernizing it. We agree that this is an investment, but if your business relies on your website it is well worth it.
Looking for help ensuring your site is mobile optimized? Contact us today to see how we can help.