Preparing for Google’s Mobile-First Index for SMBs and Service Providers

12/12/2016

Over the past few years, Google has constantly made ripples in the online media world by adjusting how its search algorithm weighs mobile websites. In the past, mobile sites were given preferential treatment, but now Google is testing a mobile-first index that looks at the mobile version of websites before moving onto desktop sites. This is, of course, in response to consumer behavior as mobile has accounted for more searches since 2015.
 
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all companies think about building websites in the same way, especially small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). With Google heralding the days of a mobile-first web, it’s now more important than ever for SMBs to have fully-functional mobile websites and for their partners to help them establish this kind of presence.
 
SMBs
As Search Engine Land puts it, “if you have been slow in joining the mobile revolution, now is the time to take action.” Google dominates search and SMBs are reliant upon mobile searches, especially “near me” searches, to bring consumers into their brick-and-mortar stores. While many businesses might assume that their websites work across both desktop and mobile, they should act quickly to adopt mobile-specific versions of sites that have the same rich content as their desktop sites. If mobile sites have less content on the first pages than the desktop versions, then Google will “probably just see the mobile version with less content,” according to Search Engine Land. For SMBs who spent a great deal of time building out their desktop sites, that’s not good news.
 
Beyond that, websites need to be designed to function in the mobile environment with the knowledge that Flash is not supported on many mobile devices and that consumers interact using their fingers rather than computer mouses.

Service Providers
Of course, most SMBs aren’t going to build mobile sites from scratch on their own. Some will invest in do-it-yourself models, but many more will turn to partners offering do-it-with-me or do-it-for-me services, due the complexity and the fact that they want them done correctly the first time. This creates a huge opportunity for marketing service providers who work with SMBs, whether they are selling ads or desktop websites services.
 
Most service providers should already be including mobile services as part of their basic website design-and-build packages, but there are many SMBs with legacy desktop websites that still need assistance diving into the mobile world. Service providers should reach out to past clients who purchased websites and offer assistance in building dedicated mobile sites, perhaps even with discounts. Meanwhile, service providers who are selling mobile advertising need to have discussions with their clients, asking if they are prepared with fully-mobile sites. Once again, if they are not, this presents an opportunity to sell services that SMBs need but may not realize.