Mobile-friendliness and usability are now a major part of Google’s ranking calculations.

Today Google will be rolling out a major algorithm update that is designed to have a significant impact on mobile searches across the world and in all languages. Mobile-friendliness and usability are now a major part of Google’s ranking calculations.

This means that when someone does an online search on their mobile device, sites that are mobile-optimized will be favored over sites that are not. The important thing to keep in mind here is that 60% of all online traffic now comes from mobile devices. With this update, millions of websites that are not optimized for mobile usage will be negatively affected, hence the term ‘Mobile-geddon.’ Although a large majority of these sites belong to small businesses, there are a number of major brands such as American Apparel, The Daily Mail, Versace and Nintendo (according to research by marketing company Somo) that may suffer when this implementation takes place.

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Let’s analyze this:

  • The competitive landscape for online ‘findability’ has changed: As mentioned in a previous article, the company website is the primary site of engagement and introduction for a majority of financial companies and their customers. For companies that rely on online findability (and I am assuming that most financial companies fit that description), then this ranking shake-up will have major implications for a company’s competitive standing. In short, your competitors may rank higher than you if their sites are mobile-friendly.
  • The price for coming in late in the game: Assuming that the 60% figure (of mobile online traffic) maintains itself or even increases, then there’s a possibility that companies will be scrambling to optimize their sites to become mobile-friendly. This is not as easy as it seems, particularly if you care about content quality and user experience (UX). Mobile format is not the same as desktop format. If you have a content strategy in place to determine efficient format and content, then it may be easier to make this transition. Bottom line: it will cost time, money, and opportunities lost to competition the longer you wait.
  • Adaptability and foresight: The original post announcing this Google update was published on February 26 of this year. However, the increase in mobile usage for online searches has been going on for quite some time. Given the latter, adapting to this trend in usage is not a matter of speculation but of evidence-based foresight. How many companies have teams in place to observe and gauge trends that determine the relevance of its services and technologies? Aside from the matter of online search, what do trends in mobile usage imply when it comes to other technologies, say, trading platforms?
  • Speed of business: It’s rather obvious that mobile devices speed up the flow of information and communication. This holds more time in reserve for companies and customers by speeding up the tempo of business. Findability is not just about exposure: it’s about the speed of being discovered; the speed and ease of information leading to the call to action; and the speed in which the prospect can access and communicate with a company’s service representatives.

A note for marketers:

Some experts say that although content is king, UX in this particular instance trumps content. This distinction is both practical and illusory: content is nothing without the experience it provides, and that experience includes the material support through which content exists. Understanding the trends in preferred experience would have easily led to the modification of content to fit that experience.

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