Search Engine Optimization. We have all heard of it, and as small business owners we have all worked tirelessly to achieve that coveted top spot of the search engine God we know as Google. We all know about SEO’s dark past, Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, and that Google’s obsession with cute, black and white animals means the SEO party we once had is over. Now, we don’t over-use keywords and spammy backlinks, instead we build quality content, link to the right types of websites and receive high quality links in return. We stay on our best behavior and walk the straight-and-narrow right to the top of Google search results. Right? Wrong.
I am sad to inform you that (once again) SEO is dead.
On Thursday, February 26, 2015 Google announced the end of SEO as we know it. Gone. Kaput! Google search ranks will no longer revolve around factors on your website. Will good quality content, good quality backlinks, and anti-spammy practices still matter? Yes they will, but not purely for ranking purposes as they did before. They matter because of one thing: quality user experience. While being a trustworthy source still matters, Google and other search engines are no longer putting as much emphasis behind how much they can trust you; Google’s furry little pets have already taught us that. Now, it’s all about the end user experience on your website.
Beginning April 21, 2015 Google will be broadening its algorithm scope to increase the importance of mobile usability in its ranking factors. What does that mean for small businesses? Your websites needs to be responsive.
Responsive design means your site will automatically fit to the smaller screens of tablets and smart phones in a way that is easy to see, easy to read, or easy to navigate like in the image above. Websites that are not responsive mean users have a hard time getting to the information they need. Any clickable buttons on the website will be too close together to select, the content on the website will be too small to read, and thus the website leads to a negative user experience.
Why is everyone making such a fuss about mobile marketing? Now, more than ever, mobile search traffic is taking over the internet. According to Smart Insights, currently 80% of internet searches are made on a smart phone and Google wants to make sure they are offering those users the best experience on their mobile devices. So much so, the search engine giant has begun warning users if a site is not mobile friendly before they click on it, and unresponsive websites will fall in Google’s rankings. However, websites with a good quality responsive website design will rank higher in Google search engine results, as they offer a better user experience on smaller mobile devices.
Bottom line, SEO has died, and mobile usability has been born.
Don’t take our word for it, this is coming directly from Google so we are all forewarned: Read the announcement here.