Google’s New Rules Play Out. Five Tips to Adapt & Thrive.

Google changed its algorithm. Again. Yawn. Wait. This one might hit your bottom line. Every company, every organization – big, medium and small – needs to pay attention.

Google constantly tweaks its algorithms to improve the quality of search results. This time, it’s all about searching on smartphones. Google has boosted the ranking of web pages optimized for mobile viewing. Is your site ready? Most aren’t. In fact, 91% of small business websites are not yet optimized for mobile viewing.

With 1.75 billion smartsphone users on the planet, every company and organization needs a good mobile site. There is no faster turn off for mobile surfers than websites with miniscule print, missing images, wonky formatting, and action buttons that are too small for adult fingers.

The results of Google’s new rules are just now being felt. Sites that aren’t smartphone friendly may be penalized, meaning they may be pushed lower in search results. Once the dust settles, analysts predict a website that currently ranks 1st or 2nd could plummet to 9th or 10th in search results. Given the first 5 results attract 68% of all clicks, it matters if your site is pushed down the list.

Why are organizations slow to serve mobile users? Because a number of businesses have been slow to leverage online marketing in general. Many organizations set themselves up on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and call it a day.

It’s a head scratcher. Brilliant business owners and marketeers continue to activate online marketing without first having any sort of plan. Perhaps that’s due to some or all of the following …

It looks easy. Your teenager is a master of social media, yet can’t make his own bed. How hard can it be to connect with people online? Apparently, monosyllabic conversation and nacho chips are all it takes.

Speed of Change. You’ve come around to Twitter, have a good handle on Facebook and genuine interest in Pinterest. But wait, now there’s Vine, Instagram, Dubsmash, WeChat, SnapChat, not to mention hashtags, which you have a hunch said teenager may be smoking while he’s sexting. Trendjacking, retargetting, and predictive marketing are terms appearing on your favourite industry blogs. And seriously, MySpace is back? Quick, pass the hashtag.

Lack of Expertise In-House/Cost of Going Outside. In large organizations, if the expertise exists in-house it is often siloed in different departments. On smaller teams, bright marketing minds may not have the training or support to invest the time needed to source data, master new tools, and conventions.

Whatever the reason, organizations keen on positioning for success today and in the future, need to heed Google’s move and get their own algo-rhythm on. Here’s how.

1. Start digging
Do some Google searching and figure out where your target audience is gathering online and what they care about. Research what your competitors are doing. Review the messaging your company is sending out on your website and social media. Read your reviews. Take lots of notes.

2. Plan the plan
Clarify your objectives. What do you want to achieve online and on mobile? How will you measure success? Start with the end goal to ensure your plan has purpose.

3. Choose your tactics
Choose the tools that will deliver. Consider how online advertising and social media – not just Facebook and Twitter, video and a blog might play a role. Remember more channels are not necessarily better. Think about the resources (in-house or external) you have to create content, manage your online footprint and track success.

4. Roll out your plan
Take care of the high priority items first. There’s no point firing up social media to drive traffic to a website that doesn’t work, is out of date, out of touch, off message, or aimless.

5. Keep your eye on the ball
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Ensure you have Google Analytics set up for your website and make sure you track the numbers that are meaningful and useful. Respond to customer questions or comments in a timely manner. Check in regularly to gauge how the various channels are performing.

As with business and traditional marketing plans, online and mobile strategies can be wide and deep. Whether you work with an outside vendor or choose to build the expertise in-house, developing a plan is key to tracking and maximizing ROI. Staying flexible and responsive is important, too. The game keeps changing.

Has your website been pushed down the list? Is it mobile-ready?  We’d love to hear from you. Please drop us a line.