Last month, Google released important tips about changes in ranking of smartphone search results. Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam (and the man behind many of the updates for Google’s search algorithm), has recently begun emphasizing the importance of mobile in Google searches.
Mobile search results (and any changes in how they are ranked) affect the SEO value of websites that are accessed by mobile users. With mobile search on the rise – and set to outpace search via desktop computer by 2015 – companies can’t afford to ignore SEO on mobile.
However, recent data from Pure Oxygen Labs found that a mere 6% of Fortune 100 companies are meeting Google’s standards of optimization for mobile users. The study used diagnostic tools to match the websites with Google’s mobile criteria.
Pure Oxygen Labs evaluated the following on company websites:
- auto-redirection of mobile users to a mobile-friendly website
- how the website redirects mobile users
- whether the site design is responsive
While the expectation is that large companies are aware of optimization for their websites, Pure Oxygen Labs’ assessment shows that many Fortune 100 companies failed to follow Google’s mobile criteria. Some of the ill-prepared companies include Apple, CVS, Costco, and many others.
Key findings from the report include:
- 2/3 risk ranking downgrades in Google for not serving mobile versions of indexed pages
- 1/3 serve some mobile content, but only 6% fully comply with Google’s requirements
- only 56% serve any mobile formatted content to smartphone searchers
- only 11% of the Fortune 100 currently target smartphone users via responsive design techniques
The study is a reminder that all businesses should take Google’s guidelines very seriously, for two main reasons:
- Mobile-optimization increases your chances of appearing higher in Google search results (which results in more visibility and business.)
- Failing to meet these standards can penalize your website.
“If history is any guide, we expect Google will likely roll out these changes prior to the holidays – most likely in September or October of 2013,” warns Pure Oxygen Labs, “For merchants preparing for the holiday season, the urgency to act is right now as a non-trivial amount of revenue could be at stake. Google effectively put everyone on notice to take mobile seriously.”
Some large companies can afford to be less strict with following the guidelines, because they already have the PR power, a well-known name, and are in the public eye — but that does not mean they are immune.
Small businesses cannot afford to disregard mobile search as as part of their marketing strategy. While it’s not clear how strict Google will be regarding their mobile penalties, it’s best to be safe — and make it easy for potential customers to find your site via mobile search.
Is your brand taking steps to optimize your presence on mobile?