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What Google’s mobile focused algorithm change means for marketers

Triana Jarman
On April 21 Google’s latest ‘mobile focused’ algorithm changed – and it’s a change which should not be ignored. There have been plenty of Google updates in recent years, but unlike Penguin and Panda, this time the algorithm changes are focused on improving the mobile web experience rather than penalizing bad practice and so businesses are likely to embrace the changes more enthusiastically.
It’s important to note that this update will impact only mobile searches and it will give a ranking boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results only. We use the term ‘only’, but this may be far more significant than you might think… Mobile usage as a whole now accounts for 60% of time spent consuming digital media, while desktop consumption makes up the remaining 40%.
So we hit the tipping point between mobile and desktop usage which so many have been talking about for years, and Google are now reflecting their search results inline with this major shift in internet usage. But what does this actually mean for B2B marketers and why should we care?
The good news is that those who adopted a ‘mobile friendly’ approach to website design some time ago should be comfortable with the continued Google ranking of their site. ‘Almost exactly two years ago today we announced our mobile philosophy of ‘One user experience, optimised for any environment, which delivers greater reach and ROI for our clients’. As part of this approach, all of the titles in our portfolio were rebuilt in a responsive design format, ensuring  content is displayed clearly and correctly, based on the screen size of the device being used (the same html will show no matter what the screen size)..
The second best option is to have a separate mobile specific site, but while Google will try to recognise the device being used and redirect appropriately, there are instances where a mobile link is shared and viewed from a desktop where display problems occur.
Ok, so either you have a mobile friendly site and you’re doing just fine, or you don’t (like plenty of others) and you’ll want to race to ensure you do. But what is the more immediate impact on your advertising campaigns?
We’ll start with an obvious one… if you’re not advertising on mobile friendly platforms, make sure you start doing so. If your media outlet of choice is being penalised by Google for offering a poor mobile experience then your campaign is less likely to get the same volume of engagement. Regardless of the recent algorithm change, a mobile responsive site will provide a greater interaction between your brand and the user.
Perhaps more important, is what you can do in terms of tailoring your campaign – and with very few B2B campaigns not being ‘content marketing’ campaigns in some way, content should be the major focus.
The increase in mobile adoption adds a great deal of emphasis to keeping things concise – less is more, especially when trying to read text on a small screen on a moving train. And, as mentioned in our Campaign Optimisation Guide last year, with 75 percent of people admitting to using their smartphone on the toilet, time is of the essence so the use of short and entertaining headlines is key. As is front-loading the most important information on your copy so the most relevant elements aren’t missed. Finally, ensure your call to action isn’t hidden towards the end of your copy – where possible integrate your call to action early in the content so that time-strapped readers are more likely to respond as you wish them to.
While it is important to take the mobile-first approach to writing campaign content, it goes  a great deal further than the copy writing. While there is a lot of mobile SEO advice out there, some of the more reliable sources recommend the following: Use content that is playable on all devices; don’t block CSS, JavaScript and image files; and increase your page load speed. Clearly some of this is out of the hands of the advertiser, but plenty isn’t and the rest is important to be aware of.
So in summary, this Google Algorithm change is a big deal for B2B marketers, but there are some key points to consider which will ensure you aren’t penalised.
  • Make sure your site is mobile optimised (the good news is that if it’s not currently optimised, it won’t take long before it should bounce back once this is changed)
  • Ensure the site of any campaign partners and media outlets are also mobile friendly.
  • It has become more important than ever to ‘think mobile’ when writing copy and producing campaign content. SEO is clearly important, but this algorithm change signifies a shift in content digestion which must be considered for all online touch points.
If you only take one thing away from this post on the latest Google algorithm amendment, remember that for most businesses it should be less about fearing the change, and more about embracing it or even better, benefiting from it.
A few helpful references