It seems that Google will begin placing a heavier emphasis on mobile sites when populating mobile search results on smartphones. The implications of this formula shift reach far and wide, as mobile optimized sites will receive preferential treatment over desktop only sites. This could have a vast effect on what nearby businesses receive exposure when their industry (restaurant, mechanic etc.) is searched from a mobile device.
The new formula is set to roll out Tuesday and will have companies kicking their developers into gear. Itai Sadan, the CEO of the website-building service Duda told AP “Some sites are going to be in for a big surprise when they find a drastic change in the amount of people visiting them from mobile devices.”
This marks what is likely the most significant change that Google has made to its mobile search rankings in recent memory. The new search results will highly favor “mobile friendly” sites, with an emphasis on quick loading time, optimization for scrolling through information, and sites whose buttons and interfaces work well on smaller screens.
In recent years it has become more common for consumers to make purchasing decisions from results they found on their smartphones. When users are out and about wondering where to go, they often turn to Google for answers. With mobile friendly sites now rising to the top, it is very feasible that some poorly designed restaurant websites, for example, could take a hit.
In the final three months of 2014, just under 30 percent of all online searches were made on mobile devices, amounting to about 18.5 billion searches, two-thirds of which were processed by Google. While the reasoning behind the shift is certainly sound, it is likely to create an uproar among small businesses. Smaller operations who may not have had the need or the resources to optimize their site for mobile will not find their hands forced, or see their search rankings drop to the back pages.