It was billed by those who like to bill things in the media as ‘Mobilegeddon’. Google’s big change to their search algorithms, launched on 21st April 2015, designed to make their searches more friendly towards mobile-enabled websites (that is, sites which adapt to be readable on mobile devices). It’s a major move from the biggest search engine in town – arguably the most significant criteria change they’ve ever made (and they’ve made a few down the years). But what does it mean and how will it likely impact local businesses across Hampshire?
Well, put quite simply – if your business does NOT have a mobile-enabled website then there’s a strong likelihood that it will suffer in the rankings when it comes to mobile searches (i.e. Google searches made via a mobile device). How much this affects your business will, of course, vary depending on how much you rely on these types of searches.
But consider this: an Ofcom report in 2014 stated that approximately 62% of the UK adult population now owned a Smartphone, while a 2014 study on consumer behaviour in relation to the internet found that 63% of those questioned said they used a mobile device to search for a local business or service.
How That Might Equate in Hampshire
If, therefore, we take those figures and apply them locally to the Hampshire region you are looking at figures such as:
- Approximate Adult Population of Hampshire: 1.3 million
- 62% Smartphone Use: 806,000
- 63% Using Smartphones for Local Business Search: 507,780
Ok, so these are of course approximations, but the point is clear – if your business’ site is NOT ranked well for mobile searches then you are potentially going to miss out on a huge chunk of local trade. When people are searching for a butcher in Alton, a baker in Basingstoke or a Candlestick maker in Fleet then a significant number are taking out their phones and searching on Google with mobile-enabled sites getting priority in those listings.
What Can You Do?
Firstly a business ought to be checking on how mobile-enabled its site is. The first obvious route is simply to take your own smartphone out (assuming you are one of the 62% who owns one – if not, there’ll be someone nearby) and look for yourself to see how well it reads on the device.
Next, and for a more official answer, you can use Google’s own mobile checking feature here. Simply type your web address into the box and it will tell you how well enabled it is.
If you find that your website is not mobile-enabled then we would certainly recommend that you get in touch with a specialist to find out about optimising your site accordingly. Many local SMEs these days will operate their site on one of the popular Content Management Systems such as WordPress or Joomla (which can be set up, operated and hosted through The Tech Lounge Web Services). If you have a site that is on these platforms, or if you are planning on switching to such a platform then you need to ensure that the theme (template) you use is responsive (that it will adapt automatically to the screen it’s being viewed on).
The one thing is clear, the internet might make the world seem smaller but it hasn’t altered the fact that the vast majority of us still buy our goods and services locally and when we do, it is to the mobiles that we frequently turn. So if you own a business in Hampshire, is this really something you can afford to ignore?