Is your company's mobile site quick to load? If not, don't be surprised if its ranking plummets on Google search results. In July, Google's algorithm will change so that slow-loading mobile sites will suffer the consequences. While this has been a call for action for quite some time, Google will now use loading speed as a metric for mobile search result ranking.
"Businesses with slow mobile sites may see a decrease in mobile organic rankings on Google," said Tony Palazzo, vice president of operations and marketing of Logical Position. "Speed has always been a factor of ranking, but previously it was based on your desktop version of your site; now it's going to be looking at your mobile site load speed."
Mobile accounts for more than 52.2 percent of all web traffic worldwide, increasing from last year's 50.3 percent. With its algorithm change, Google is hoping to accommodate this rising trend. Here's everything you need to know to prepare for Google's SEO changes ahead. [Read related story: Google for Business: A Small Business Guide]
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What it means for businesses
The algorithm change won't affect every business or mobile site. However, it's still important to take necessary precautions – especially if your brand is new to the mobile game.
"While Google says slower sites that still have great content may still rank highly, it's a clear push for companies and developers to emphasize performance and the user experience on mobile platforms," said Sean Brady, president of Americas at Emarsys. "Companies must select the right technology and employ the right strategies to deliver both relevant personalized content and mobile performance."
If your small business falls short of Google's standards, you could potentially lose valued customers and page views, lowering your ranking against competition.
What companies can do
The most obvious solution is to make your mobile website more user-friendly. To do so, Google suggests the following steps:
- Visit Google's guide to mobile-friendly sites. This page offers several ways to make your site more mobile-friendly, such as using software or a third-party developer.
- Take Google's Mobile-Friendly Test to see how optimized your website is for mobile viewing. You can test a single page on your site or several webpages and see exactly how Googlebot views the pages when determining search results.
- Use Webmaster Tools to generate a Mobile Usability Report, which helps identify any issues with your website when viewed on a mobile device.
Also, Brady stated that the ROI for email marketing is nearly double that of mobile, social media and other digital marketing platforms. If you're concerned that your mobile friendliness won't be up to par come July, develop other marketing channels to boost your ROI.
"Google's focus on mobile directly impacts brands' omnichannel marketing strategies, especially as millennials on average use 4.5 devices when interacting with a brand, forcing developers to continue focusing on the mobile experience," said Brady. "In the competitive e-commerce industry, marketers must continue providing consistent and personalized content across channels and ensure their content on these channels are built to run as fast and efficiently as possible."
Additional reporting by Sara Angeles.