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What will Google’s Mobile-Friendly Change Mean for B2B Sites?

Google’s announced a “significant” algorithm change that will prioritize mobile-friendly sites in its mobile search beginning April 21, and 99% of web marketing folks are wringing their hands over the possible fall-out.

But I’m more interested in how much of an impact this will really have in many B2B segments where few, if any, companies have or care about mobile sites.

When the announcement came out, our team went into full gear to try to assess the potential “damage.” What we found was that most of our industrial B2B clients get very little traffic from mobile, most under 15%. So, does that automatically mean that all those clients will lose 15% of their traffic on April 22?

No one really knows – yet. What will be interesting to see is how well received the new Google mobile-friendly rankings are received by site users. 

Up to now, Google has told us that it ranks websites in order to provide the best, most relevant content to users, using a complex algorithm that measures site content, architecture and back links. 

Mobile device use continues to grow, so it does make sense to discuss WHEN is the best time to transition to a mobile-friendly site.

So, if mobile friendly becomes a significant part of the algorithm, what happens to all the really good websites that aren’t mobile friendly? They just disappear or go to the back of the line behind mobile friendly sites that don’t have good content?

And, what happens when very few or none of the websites that meet a specific keyword search are mobile friendly? Will Google just not deliver any results, or will it be forced to revert to its original ranking based on content and back links?

As part of our effort to quantify the potential effect for our clients, we did some keyword searches for terms our clients use and found that in most cases, in the industrial space, there are few mobile-friendly sites.

We went back as far as five pages of Google results, and in only one case did we find nine mobile friendly sites out of the current Top 50. Now, if Google moves all nine of those to the first page, that could certainly be a problem for that one client. But, in most cases, there were far fewer mobile-friendly sites.

Does that mean we can ignore this altogether? Probably not. Mobile device use continues to grow, so it does make sense to have the discussion about WHEN is the best time to transition to a mobile-friendly site, based on company budget, age of the website and necessity once we see the true impact of this ranking change. 

In the meantime, it’s important to remember Google hasn’t been infallible when it comes to rolling out algorithm changes – in fact, it’s rolled back changes in the past when reaction was very negative or they found that the change didn’t improve the user’s experience. So, this one could go through a few iterations before they’re satisfied they’ve gotten it right.

So, rather than panic, we’re just telling our customers to keep a watchful eye. Just as we will be doing.