LOS ANGELES — If you have a website and want to be found online, it's time to get busy.
Tuesday, search giant Google is changing its ranking system to favor those with mobile friendly websites, i.e., ones that can be easily read on smartphones, without tons of graphics and flash to slow things down.
In some circles, this is being called Mobilegeddon, with thousands of sites scrambling to get ready. A top 1 or 2 website in a search query could hypothetically fall to ninth or 10th place, causing a loss of thousands of dollars in potential business, says Greg Sterling, an independent analyst and columnist for the SearchEngineLand website.
"As many as 40% of top websites are not currently mobile friendly," says Sterling. "There's a big category of people who have completely ignored mobile."
Google is making the changes, Sterling says, because so many more people are now using the smartphone as the hub of their daily lives.
"Google's objective is to get people to use search on mobile phones, to make the experience better," he says.
So what to do, if you haven't gotten your website mobile-friendly yet?
Here are a number of steps:
• Check out your website and see if it passes the Google test. Google has a "Mobile-Friendly" test page in its developer section. Just type in the URL and see if it passes. The URL: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/. If you pass, great, relax. If you don't — read on.
• Call your local website host. Many have tools in place to transition your website. GoDaddy, the top provider of website addresses and hosting, offers a tool to completely rebuild your website to make it mobile friendly, and charges $1 monthly for the service. Competitor Bluehost has a tool that's way less time consuming and potentially cheaper. For a one-time fee of $25, it's goMobi tool builds a smaller, mobile version of your site.
• Go to a service like dudamobile for a more robust, yet smaller version of your website, with more images and text than through the website builders, starting at $5 monthly.
• Get in touch with a local Webmaster (try Craigslist and other local forums) to farm out the work, which would probably make your mobile site look more like the original, main site for the computer.
Finally, if you're a small business and can't get this done by Tuesday, no need to panic, says Sterling.
Most local businesses are found these days, not via their website, but through directory services like Yelp and Google's local search listings.
"You typically go to Google and look up car repair, for instance," he says. "The local listings show up first, not usually the website."
Article Courtesy of USA Today