On April 21, Google implemented an important change in its search ranking algorithm that penalizes websites not optimized for mobile. In a nutshell, websites that are not mobile-friendly – or those that are not configured for easy viewing regardless of screen size or device – will likely now experience a significant decrease in search traffic because their listings will drop in search ranking results.
Google outlined this update on February 26 – an uncommon move for the search giant since it rarely provides the secret behind its ranking algorithms in such clear terms. But, its decision makes sense given the rapid shift of online use from desktop to mobile. According to Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, almost two-thirds of adult cell phone owners use their devices to access the Internet. That number is certain to increase.
Many financial services companies have stayed ahead of the curve by optimizing their corporate websites for mobile. However, advisor websites have yet to catch on. This is a huge opportunity that organizations can’t afford to overlook, especially given that mobile searches often return local results and have a local intent.
Imagine an “on the go” consumer using her smartphone or tablet to search for a financial advisor in her neighborhood. If one of your advisors fits that criteria, he needs to show up as high as possible in her search results in order to be found, which now means the advisor’s website must be mobile-friendly.
There’s an easy way to find out if a website is ready for mobile. Google offers a tool that grades how quickly a website loads on a mobile device as well as its overall user experience. It also provides suggestions on how to improve results. "Judging from the tests our product team ran, it looks like many advisor sites can use those suggestions. We found that most advisor websites were either not mobile optimized, scoring in the low 50s, or partially optimized with scores in the high 80s or low 90s.” Advisors will have to do much better to successfully compete over the long-term, and Google is giving them the push that they need to take that next step forward, as painful as it may seem today.
With its latest update, Google has made it clear that the future is in a seamless online experience across multiple consumer touch points – mobile, social and more – and those who do not adapt to the change will become irrelevant. Financial services organizations need to make mobile a central part of their customer experience strategies at the field level, providing advisors and agents with the technology and support required to succeed in a “mobile-first” world. The risks of not being found on mobile search are simply too huge.
Meagan Hency is Director of Product Marketing at Hearsay Social.