Posted on: 7 May 2015
As the internet continues to expand, changes to the way websites are viewed, ranked, and searched are nearly constant -- and it can be difficult for growing businesses to keep up with these changes and remain competitive. If you're in the tarp or banner printing industry, your business may be particularly vulnerable to changes in these algorithms, as your business is so specific it can quickly fall to the bottom of a list of search engine results. Fortunately, there are already some tools in place that can allow you to stay on the cutting edge of online marketing. Read on to learn more about upcoming changes to the algorithms of some popular search engines, as well as what you can do to adapt and promote your business in an ever-changing online environment.
What changes to the search engine algorithm are coming?
All commercial search engines use proprietary algorithms or formulas to determine the order in which results are displayed. This explains why you can type the same search term into two separate search engines and get slightly different results. These algorithms continue to adapt to avoid obvious abuses (for example, placing a certain keyword in black-on-black or white-on-white lettering on your website so that your site comes up first in the list of results).
Because more and more individuals are now primarily accessing the internet from a phone, tablet, or mobile device, rather than a desktop or laptop computer, these search engine organizations are beginning to change their algorithms to give preference to mobile-friendly websites -- sending non-mobile-friendly websites to the very bottom of the search results. This means that the ease with which potential customers can find your business website could quickly change if you haven't taken the steps to make your website mobile-friendly.
What is a mobile-friendly website?
The term "mobile-friendly" can encompass a few qualities. The most important is visibility. You may have noticed that when browsing certain websites on the internet browser of your smartphone or tablet, the text appears tiny -- you have to zoom in and scroll over in order to read this text. Other websites may have a normal or streamlined appearance.
The ability of a website to "shrink" or streamline itself when accessed from a mobile device is the primary determination of a mobile-friendly website. These websites ensure that viewers can still access important information without straining their eyes or having to navigate lines of small text.
Many mobile-friendly websites also have direct links to other apps or pages that can be of use. For example, on a mobile-friendly self-storage website, there might be a clickable address that will bring up a maps application, giving the user turn-by-turn directions to your business. You might also make a responsive phone number -- allowing a viewer to contact you by simply touching the phone number listed on the website.
How can you adapt to these upcoming changes?
Your first step should be to test your website to ensure that it is mobile-friendly. There is an online tool you can use to make this determination.
Although some website designers have created entirely separate mobile-friendly websites -- usually a stripped-down version of the desktop website -- this often isn't necessary. Instead, you can simply render your website "responsive," meaning that the pages will automatically shrink or scale when accessed from a device with a smaller screen. Fortunately, creating a responsive website is fairly simple -- your webmaster should be able to perform this service, or (with consultation with your internet service provider) you may be able to handle it yourself.
In some situations, even if a page is responsive, it may not be optimal for viewing on a mobile device. You will want to go through each separate page of your website (preferably from a mobile phone or tablet) to see how these pages render. If you find yourself squinting to read important information or just don't feel that the page is aesthetically appealing at a small size, you may want to work with your webmaster to redesign the desktop page so that both the full-sized and responsive versions of your website are user-friendly.
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