How to make ‘mobilegeddon’ work for you in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is seen as the perfect example as to why Google has shaken-up search rankings, giving preference to “mobile-friendly” websites. The updates, that will see unresponsive mobile websites drop significantly in mobile Google searches, has been dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by industry commentators.

Today, Google confirmed changes they heralded in late February. While the language was all rosy in their original release titled “Finding more mobile-friendly search results”, the details would have seen some unprepared businesses scrambling, as if an asteroid had just been detected heading for their web-server.

Luke McCormack, our Operations Manager let us know his thoughts on the biggest Google update of 2015.

“First page has been in Hong Kong for two years and you can see the rise in mobile use,” he said. “You only need to go for a walk or catch the MTR to see all the people using their mobiles. It is very much a mobile-tech city.”

Mobile-responsiveness explained

Mobile usage has now exceeded desktop usage. This means, world-wide, people use mobile devices like smart phones more than traditional computers. McCormack said this is why mobile-responsiveness is a Google priority.

“Google’s main aim is to make the user experience for their searches as friendly as possible,’’ he said. “They want quality content in their search results.

“If searchers are coming to your website and they can’t navigate properly, if they can’t easily click on the buttons, they are getting confused and the satisfaction goes down. That is against the google business model.”

While this is big news for smartphone users and those who want to have an deep impact in that market, McCormack was careful to point out that the changes would only affect mobile platforms and not desktop or tablet at this time.

How will Google search changes affect my business?

In short, even established businesses’ websites could be blown into cyberspace.

In the statement, Google confirmed the changes will “affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide” and worryingly for many companies this “will have a significant impact in our search results.”

McCormack said if a website is not mobile-friendly or mobile-responsive, the Google search rankings on mobile platforms will be dropping now.

“Google will start penalizing you, as of the 21st of April,” he said. “If your website is not mobile-responsive, as of then you will begin to lose your rankings. The fact is, you need to become mobile-responsive, and there is no hiding from that now.”

For businesses with an online presence – after the mobile-responsive changes – this means clients using smartphones may not be able to find you.

McCormack confirmed that in most of his clients’ industries, more than half of the traffic comes from mobile platforms. He said that number will only increase with advances in mobile technology.

However, if you flip the equation, McCormack said this could become a significant advantage for some.

“If you already have a mobile-responsive site, you are creating a friendly user experience for mobile searchers. “ For the companies that have been on top of this, or had their website redesigned properly in the last three years, it will be an advantage to them.’’

What should businesses do to stop ‘mobilegeddon’?

McCormack said his First Page clients were all well aware this change was coming.

“We stay on top of all Google trends and updates. As a global team, it is our responsibility to research updates and make sure all our clients are insulated from further algorithm changes and are best prepared to be optimized for them”

Since First Page caught wind of the proposed changes at the beginning of the year, they have been working to ensure their clients will land on the favorable side of these changes.

“We let our clients know we can work with them to develop mobile-responsive websites, to provide them with a cost-effective solution to achieve the best rankings, on all platforms, as soon as possible.’’

Tools to help achieve a mobile-friendly website

Google offers a way to check is any website is Mobile-friendly with a mobile-friendly test. Google also has a guide to working with a website developer where it suggest asking for a developer’s portfolio, and making sure the developer understands the mobile customer.