The Mobile Impact

Before the internet became widely accessible, print advertising was the way to go. Your position in the Yellow Pages would not change based on the relevancy of your two-line promotional text or how fast you answered the phone. As we slowly progressed into online markets, the Yellow Pages became Online Indexes and print advertising split their revenue with web developers. People started adapting to finding what they needed online and soon the Yellow Pages were forgotten at the front gate.

Technology evolved further and the internet became bigger. People wanted to go online and find what they need in micro-minutes rather than lookup domains that would lead to unfruitful turnouts. Tech Giants saw this as an opportunity to innovate and developed search engines, which would index websites based on keywords typed in by querents. Website owners needed to adapt by inserting keywords in hidden meta-tags so that they could be found on search engines.

The web continued to evolve, and soon people discovered ways to ‘hack’ the system in order to achieve higher rankings. As search engines are built to enrich the user’s experience, they adapted their algorithms in order to circumvent these attempts. Therefore it should come as no surprise that the internet’s most popular search engines have developed strict metrics for websites that wish to achieve first page results.

These metrics grew alongside the evolution of the internet. In 2011, Google moved away from solely measuring keywords on a web page and focused more on the content, context of web pages and user experience of their SER (search engine results). The Google Panda algorithm for example, was created to ensure that low quality content does not work its way into search results.

Businesses were required to rapidly improve their desktop experience to remain relevant and listed on the first SERP (search engine result page). Growth stabilised and for a few years, businesses would remain at the top of the results page. It was only after a minor algorithm update that they would need to relook their digital strategies and adapt accordingly.

However, as smartphones became more affordable and wireless connectivity became more widely available, the internet saw a spike in mobile traffic. People started to take out their phones and search for businesses on the go. Mobile traffic soon surpassed desktop traffic and steadily started to increase. After mobile devices surpassed desktops in December 2014, Google enforced a new Mobile-Friendly algorithm.

As the web evolved and algorithms were updated, businesses noted a drop of up to 88% in website traffic. Companies with slow or unresponsive mobile sites were thrown in the dark while their competitors moved up with mobile-friendly designs.

To make up for this loss, companies have started to invest more of their marketing budgets into paid search advertising to fill the void. However, Google has also incorporated algorithms into their auctions when deciding which ads to show and when to show them. As a result, it has become common for CPCs (cost-per-click) to increase, and conversions decrease, in individual accounts where competitors have mobile-friendly sites.

This trend is probably set to continue until companies have adapted their sites, recovering both paid search rankings and organic search traffic.

With an estimated 57% of website traffic originating from smartphones and the continuous expansion of mobile networks, these metrics will become more strict and the channels more frequently used. Businesses would need to adapt to the digital age to remain relevant and meet their bottom-line.

Is your business mobile-friendly and loading fast enough? Why not test it with Google’s support tools and discover for yourself.

How fast does your site load? Test it here.

How mobile-friendly is your site? Test it here.

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