Research by digital PR agency Appeal has shown that almost two thirds of Yorkshire’s top SMEs are risking lower rankings in internet mobile search results following Google’s ‘mobile-friendly’ algorithm update, which takes effect from Tuesday (21 April).
The internet search engine announced in February that it would be expanding its ranking criteria to include mobile-friendliness. Websites that were not mobile optimised would lose ranking within searches made on mobile devices, prompting a flood of activity among online businesses anxious to avoid the subsequent reduced online visibility.
Of the 100 Yorkshire business websites analysed in the study, only 35 per cent had websites that were mobile-friendly and 13 per cent of these only had homepages that were mobile-friendly.
“Even business to business firms that don’t trade online should be concerned about this update,” commented Appeal managing director Paul Snape, who also co-founded the UK’s first regional online business news service TheBusinessDesk.com.
“We increasingly work with clients to use media and content to help their search rankings and drive leads through organic and paid search, and ignoring such a major and well-publicised update could reduce your competitive advantage in search results,” he said.
Within the pool of websites tested for compliance were 81 business to business firms, and 19 business to consumer sites, including a handful that traded online. Of the business to business sites, only 31 per cent were mobile compatible and the business to consumer sites didn’t fare much better at 34 per cent.
“For many firms, the update shouldn’t be too onerous. If you are using a current platform the housekeeping needed to ensure compliance could be a matter of a few hours’ work, depending on the size of the website,” continued Snape.
“Admittedly, a number of the websites tested were obviously built some time ago, sometimes using a bespoke CMS platform, and the work involved in getting those optimised might be better used to build a new site from scratch,” he said.
Appeal’s research was prompted by a flurry of enquiries from clients, a number of which invest in SEO PR campaigns to drive traffic and sales enquires through local search results.
“Getting to grips with the impact media relations and PR has on search is the most exciting opportunity for media agencies in years, and we now work hand in hand with SEO and paid search experts on a daily basis. But all the hard work and investment in digital can be undermined by poor housekeeping; it’s important to keep up to date and maintain your competitive advantage,” added Snape.
Companies concerned about their own website’s compliance are advised to use Google’s testing tool that can be found online (search ‘mobile friendly test’), or to take advice from their web designer and SEO consultant.
“The update could be a great prompt for companies to look at their website and consider reviewing the whole site and where it fits within their marketing strategy. Too many firms update their site every few years and just tinker with it routinely to add a blog or change contact details, and these days that generally isn’t enough.
“It’s not rocket science if you find the right expert. Think about how you use the web to research potential suppliers, find products and share your views, and then ask yourself whether you are as good as you could be online, starting with meeting Google’s well-publicised rule changes,” he concluded.