Google's Mobile Search Shift Demands Website Upgrade - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Business
News
4/22/2015
07:06 AM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Google's Mobile Search Shift Demands Website Upgrade

"Mobilegeddon" is here. It's not the end of the world, but it may mean the end of your stale website.

10 IT Hiring Trends Confounding Private, Public-Sector CIOs
10 IT Hiring Trends Confounding Private, Public-Sector CIOs
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Calling Google's search algorithm update, which boosts the ranking of mobile-friendly pages in mobile search results, "mobilegeddon" may be overstating the potential loss of web traffic for sites that aren't responsive – able to adapt to mobile devices – or aren't specifically designed for mobile devices.

Though websites that aren't mobile-friendly can expect to rank lower in mobile search results, they can be fixed. Chances are, however, that will take time and money.

Most major websites are already mobile-friendly. A survey published in April by SEO firm Searchmetrics found that only 16% of the 100 domains with the highest search ranking are not mobile-friendly. TechCrunch claimed 44% of the Fortune 500 websites aren't ready for mobile search.

Wikipedia.org is the highest-ranking laggard. According to Google's mobile-friendly test, Wikipedia.org fails because links on its pages are too close together, making for a suboptimal mobile experience. The National Institutes of Health website, nih.gov, also fails the test.

(Image: Google/NIH)

(Image: Google/NIH)

In a blog post explaining the change, Google's Takaki Makino and Doantam Phan stress that the company's search ranking scheme depends on a variety of signals. "The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal – so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query," they wrote.

The companies most affected by Google's algorithm change are likely to be SMBs. A year ago, a study conducted by Hibu, a local directory and advertising provider, found that 59% of SMBs have websites that are not mobile-friendly.

Sarah Dryden, SEO and social director at Path Interactive, a New York-based marketing and design firm that provides search engine optimization (SEO) services, said in a phone interview that while "mobilegeddon" was hyperbolic, the shift in Google's algorithm is significant.

"I think it's a big deal because it represents a fundamental line drawn by search engines," said Dryden. Google, she said, doesn't want to serve experiences to users that aren't mobile-optimized. "This has made the conversation with clients a lot more clear-cut."

Most of Path's clients already have responsive websites, said Dryden.

Asked about the cost to convert an existing website to be mobile-friendly, Dryden said it's difficult to generalize because the Web development space is so varied. But for a small business' basic site, she guessed it might cost anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000, and take between 40 hours to 150 hours of design and development time, to convert a legacy website into a mobile-friendly (responsive) one.

The urgency of making a website mobile-friendly depends on a company's industry, Dryden said. She pointed to a client that sells electrical components online to other businesses. Less than 10% of that company's online traffic comes from mobile devices, she said. "For that sort of site, the shift is less impactful," she said.

While mobile traffic is increasing across the board, said Dryden, the increase is not equally meaningful to every company. For some clients, she said, mobile traffic is growing at a rate of 2% annually. For others, it may be more like 20% to 50%.

According to comScore, smartphones and tablets together account for 60% of time spent consuming digital media, and 21% of Millennials no longer use desktop computers to go online.

The mobile future is here. It's just not yet evenly distributed.

Attend Interop Las Vegas, the leading independent technology conference and expo series designed to inspire, inform, and connect the world's IT community. In 2015, look for all new programs, networking opportunities, and classes that will help you set your organization’s IT action plan. It happens April 27 to May 1. Register with Discount Code MPOIWK for $200 off Total Access & Conference Passes.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
Commentary
If DevOps Is So Awesome, Why Is Your Initiative Failing?
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  12/2/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll