Ever since Google first announced the upcoming changes to its algorithm, the tech industry has been obsessed with the notion of “mobile friendly”. April 21 has already been nicknamed “Mobilegeddon“, and other than stocking up on canned food everyone is preparing for the worst. But how about preparing for the best? Perhaps those of us who breath mobile aren’t the most objective people around, but the focus on mobile friendly sites could actually turn out to be a positive change for those who play their cards right.
That is not to say there isn’t justified cause for concern. Sites that to this day treated their mobile entity as a copy-paste version of their website, best get ready for major changes or a major hit in rankings. But that would be true even if it weren’t for Google’s announcement.
Mobile users consume a great deal of information using their smartphone, and have become pretty selective in their choice of mobile sites. It’s safe to assume that sites cannot afford poor representation on mobile and many have already experienced a drop in retention rates, traffic volume and sales. So while a decrease in search visibility is always a big deal, mobile users didn’t wait for Google to take the lead and started punishing non-optimized mobile sites long ago.
Google’s decision is yet another indication to the fact that mobile is so much more than a complimentary platform for the web. If anything, the shift in data consumption suggests the other way around. Brands that are only now waking up to the mobile reality (where have you been?!?) should realize that Google’s announcement is only the beginning and the best (or worst) is yet to come.
Now, why is that a good thing? Because where there’s difficulty there’s also an opportunity. Brands were just granted a great excuse to update their mobile strategy, or create one in some cases. If a particular brand is panicking because its mobile strategy wasn’t serious enough, the solution isn’t to follow the steps and make the new mobile friendly cut. This would only buy them time, and not a lot. What brands need to do is adopt a forward thinking approach that embraces mobile on all fronts. If their marketing budget treated mobile the same way as their site design, brands are already losing money. It’s not only time for a website update, it’s time for an attitude adjustment.
A forward thinking mobile strategy leaves the mobile friendly algorithm in the dust. It involves the future of mobile searches – not the present. For starters, brands should take a look at what mobile-oriented startups are already doing and learn a few tricks. Understanding mobile means using the device’s capabilities in terms of personalization, retargeting and UX. It opens up a world of data and new channels for brands to reach out to users. Instead of turning their website into a mobile friendly platform, brands should turn it into a truly smart one – Google wants you to make the mobile experience tolerable, but is that all you want for your brand?
Surprisingly, even mobile startups could end up in trouble as April 21 rolls in. Those who operate a brilliant mobile site, but rely on other, poorly executed mobile sites as part of their ASO link-building efforts, will experience a drop in app ranking. The way to prepare for Google’s changes is to check yourself, as well as the sites your brand collaborates with in any way.
Last but absolutely not least, everyone should start considering the future of mobile searches. Deep linking, for example, should be on every app developer’s menu as it is about to transform the way apps communicate with one another as well as with users. Brands that operate without an app should promote themselves through sophisticated mobile campaigns and allow potential customers to enjoy the mobile experience at its fullest. The value of mobile to any brand is no longer news, but the ways to achieve it keep changing.
Right now is the perfect time to spring-clean your mobile strategy of all the clueless decisions you’ve made thus far. Instead of getting ready for a mobile apocalypse, get your brand ready for a huge leap forward. You can email Google a thank you note later. In the meanwhile – keep calm and optimize.