The web has become mobile, and so has its users. The websites that haven’t caught up with this yet simply need to get a move on. It’s not just about the user experience anymore. The Google ranking of businesses that are not optimized to deliver a quality user experience on mobile is taking a hit following its What is/was this mobile-friendly update? Google’s mobile-friendly update is now more than a year old and is applicable to all search results on mobiles globally. “We’re boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. Now searchers can more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling,” they had said at the time of rolling out the update last year in April. In May this year they rolled out another update which increased “the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly.” If you want to find out how your website fares in this aspect, enter your URL in Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. You will be informed whether your website is mobile-friendly or not, along with some more information on how the Googlebot views the page. This exercise is easy, instructive and highly recommended. Mobile is crucial for local SEO More people perform searches through their phones than through desktops. One can only expect this trend to increase and do so rapidly. The main reason behind the increasing use of mobile is the fact that it’s convenient to get online through a device which is with us the whole time. Due to a vast number of apps and mobile-optimized websites, which have collectively made the phone experience fast, convenient, and user-friendly, almost preferential to the desktop, we find less and less reasons to pull out a laptop for the same purpose. What do you do when you want to take your wife out to a highly-rated Italian restaurant for dinner? You pull out your smartphone and enter the query to look for the options. Google has found that a number of people conducting a search, specifically local search, through their mobile devices is now greater than those doing so through their PCs. Consumers prefer to rely on their smartphones to perform quick local searches such as finding out about the nearest restaurants, shops, movie theaters, etc. The same Google study found that 80% of local mobile searches result in conversion. Let that one sink in. Desktop simply does not serve the very specific needs of a mobile audience. Viewing on small screens websites that haven’t been optimized for mobile, and especially ones that contain a lot of content/menus, is frustrating. One accidentally keeps clicking on the wrong tab, going back and forth between the pages is a problem, zooming in and out is a pain and so is scrolling up and down. Users simply abandon the sites that test their patience to this extent. You are potentially losing out on a tremendous amount of business if you offer local business services and haven’t yet optimized the website for mobile. Why is mobile-friendliness a ranking factor? Keeping with the increasing importance of mobile devices to local and general search, Google has made the mobile-readiness of a website a ranking signal in mobile search results. Websites not optimized for mobile will not show towards the top, regardless of the overall SEO and content marketing efforts you have put towards this purpose. Conversely, if it is optimized for mobile, expect a better showing in SERPS, as long as it scores well on the other ranking factors too. However, nothing is that simple and straightforward with Google. Exceptions include web pages that address specific queries with great content. These will still show up high regardless of how well the page has been optimized for mobile. If that sounds confusing, it shouldn’t. It only means that quality of content matters, as does the intent of a query. A page loaded with great content which could possibly be of tremendous interest to users will not be downranked just because it’s not mobile-optimized. Google wants users to be able to find the best and the most relevant information in the easiest manner possible. Mobile-friendliness helps towards this (hence the update), but the answer to their query, in the form of helpful content, is still the goal. Where do you stand? After you are done reading this article, I want you to do this. Enter your company’s URL into Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool to learn of how you are doing on that front. If Google considers the website mobile-ready, congratulations. If not, you have some work to do. Google itself offers a number of resources and clear pointers towards this end, including a list of all the factors that makes a website mobile-friendly. Tech-savvy readers should be able to implement this upgrade on their own. If not, look up an expert or an agency to help you with it. However, you cannot afford to waste any more time ignoring the impact of mobile-friendliness of your website on the performance of your business. Images: ” SEO web development concept: circuit board with word Mobile Web, 3d render / Shutterstock.com“ ____________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. 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