Google's search changes: four ways you need to react

20 April 2015 -


Google is changing the way it ranks and recommends websites, implementing mobile usability as a key ranking factor. Smart businesses and managers will make these changes straight away

Jermaine Haughton

Set to be released tomorrow (April 21), Google’s search engine results will relegate websites that are not mobile friendly for smartphone users. Instead, websites which translate well on mobile are more likely to appear at the top of the rankings.

By general rule of thumb, the higher a website ranks on search the more likely it is to be seen and visited by users. Therefore, the new algorithm changes will likely affect the pockets of many businesses, especially those in retail, food and ecommerce businesses, which benefit from customers using the search engine to find where to eat and shop while out-and-about.

According to Digital Trends, around three-tenths of all online searches were made on mobile devices – approximately 18.5 billion searches – of which two-thirds were processed by Google.

Here are some essential ways small and medium-sized companies can be best prepared:

Make your website mobile-friendly

Websites made for desktop users often have text that looks small and unclear on other devices. Businesses must focus on responsive design, which allows a site to automatically change layout depending on what device is being used to view it. They must be designed to load quickly on mobile devices and users should not need to scroll left or right to view content. Therefore, the site can be perfectly readable whether on a desktop, tablet or smartphone, as well as improving its search rank. 

Tackle the issue immediately

Having announced the changes almost two months ago, few businesses can blame Google for failure to allow sufficient time for firms to prepare. With the help of a step-by-step guide, bosses can effectively develop their sites exactly in line with the tech giant’s requirements. Furthermore, businesses can actually test out how compatible their website is to smartphones immediately, through Google’s new "Mobile-Friendly Test" tool. It also runs a free report highlighting any errors. 

Change the name for display

One of the changes will see the disappearance of URLs from search engine results on smartphones. Businesses will need to seriously consider their chosen company name for display, as it will promote both the brand and its usefulness to customers. Having supplied guidance on the source code alterations required to recognise the preferred company name, Google has said firms will be able to provide more than one possible name. However, they must be unique and not be a misleading description of the site. 

Focus on being user-friendly

The new search engine requirements must not distract businesses from the overall target of making their websites helpful, relevant and insightful, no matter what device they are being viewed on. While the new algorithm has specific demands on being mobile-friendly, other ranking factors will still be important, from the use of keywords to image compression. As fantastic as ranking highly on search is for attracting the attention of users, the translation into monetary gain can be thwarted by poorly produced content. 

Image courtesy of George Dolgikh – from Shutterstock

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