If your company is not already thinking about its mobile presence, now is the time to start.
An effective online presence is an essential communication tool for all businesses, and a professional website is a good place to start.
However simply having a website is no longer enough.
With recent changes to Google's search algorithm, webpages that aren't mobile friendly and don't offer great content are paying the price.
Statistics alone should be enough motivation – mobile devices are now responsible for around half of all web traffic.
Think about it; you've got some spare time on the train during your commute and you forgot you were supposed to look for a stationary supplier.
Or perhaps you've had a number of staff take other jobs, so you're understaffed. You haven't had time to add 'find a recruitment firm' to your normal workload (you are understaffed, after all), so you do a quick search on your iPhone while waiting for your morning takeaway coffee.
Now, if you work in either the stationary supply or recruitment sectors, you would hope that your company fared well in those Google searches.
Unfortunately many businesses haven't realised the importance of making their webpages mobile-friendly and are subsequently being penalised, because mobile-friendly webpages (the individual pages that make up a website) ranking higher in search results.
Google's criteria for a 'mobile-friendly' webpage is:
• one that avoids software not common on mobile devices such as Flash;
• one that uses text that is readable without zooming;
• one that sizes content to the screen so users don't have to scroll horizontally or zoom; and
• one that places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
Google began emphasising the importance of mobile friendliness in November last year when it started labelling results that met these criteria.
Its latest algorithm change is a giant leap ahead, so much so it's been dubbed 'Mobilegeddon'. In effect, if two webpages with content of equal quality come back in results, the mobile friendly one will be ranked higher.
"Now searchers can more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling," Google said.
The impact on Western Australian businesses is significant. An assessment of the top 20 private companies and top 20 public industrial companies shows that more than half have not invested in making even their homepages mobile friendly.
They will, therefore, fall down the rankings if the search is undertaken on a mobile device.
What to do
The immediate option for businesses is obvious – invest in making your website mobile friendly.
However, the key differentiator is content and it will be content that puts winners above losers in future Google algorithm changes.
Google noted that the overall intention to return the most relevant results remained, despite its preference towards mobile-friendly webpages in its latest update.
"While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so even if a page with high-quality content is not mobile friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query," Google said.
Clearly, as Bill Gates declared nearly two decades ago, content is king. And yet some still fail to realise how what is now defined as content marketing can bring competitive advantages.
Businesses should recognise that creating great content across multiple platforms can have significant impacts in marketing success. For example, businesses are gaining followers and 'likes' by sharing great content that people want to then share to their networks on social media sites – essentially word of mouth in a social media realm.
But returning to Google, this activity can also affect how businesses rank in search results. Link sharing was the backbone of the early search engine optimisation game, and it still plays a significant role with shares through social media taken into account during Google searches.
Unsurprisingly, if a business provides an update on Google+ and then receives a significant number of 'likes' or 'shares', its ranking on Google increases. In one case study conducted by MOZ (search engine optimisation specialists) a company that received 100 followers on Google+ received an almost 15 per cent increase in its ranking.
So, with mobile web traffic having overtaken desktop traffic, you're wasting time if you're not already assessing how to become mobile-friendly integrated with a content marketing strategy.
Director, Platform Communications