Today, Google has updated its algorithm which will impact the rankings for sites not deemed to be mobile friendly. Google says:

This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.

Google hasn’t used the word ‘significant’ liberally in the past, suggesting that companies and brands without mobile-optimised sites will suffer. There is also discussion on whether or not brands will be punished in desktop rankings for having a non-optimised website – we will have to wait and see if that becomes a reality. Mobile search on Google

Despite this announcement, our client The Search Agency UK found that 39 companies in the FTSE 100 have no mobile friendly site at all. On top of this, and although Google has established Responsive Web Design (RWD) as the industry best practice, only 32 FTSE 100 companies have responsive websites.

For the FTSE 100 websites that are ecommerce based, 32% of UK consumers are now making purchases on smartphones, so not having a mobile friendly site in the future could hurt a business’s revenue.

You may be thinking why we’re telling you this and not your webmasters. Well, as part of the whole ‘mobilegeddon’ piece, here are the two main reasons why this is important for marketers and PRs:

1. Searchability on-the-go

Implementing a campaign and not having a mobile presence is dangerous for your brand.

In an IAB study, 69% of people said visiting a non-optimised site was a frustrating experience, with 73% saying they did not turn to an alternative device. We don’t need to tell you how important mobile is these days, with

Whether you’ve got an advert up in London’s tube network or you’re running a Twitter campaign, if the audience you’re trying to reach cannot access information on your website you risk losing their attention. That means everything: your e-commerce functionality, product information, blog and media newsroom – and don’t even think about having those press releases in PDF format picking up dust at the back of your website.

2. Acknowledgement from Google on the importance of mobile

With this update, Google recognises the shift of web access to smartphones from desktops.

Brands need to recognise this too. Whatever form of content you’re creating – be it a blog post, an image or a video – ask yourself, is it mobile friendly?

Public relations consultants and marketers must acknowledge that a lot of content will be viewed on a small screen and therefore ensure it is mobile friendly – i.e. shorter and more succinct. After all, our attention span is apparently now 8 seconds – 1 second less than a goldfish!

The optimal time for most online content will be shorter than you think. Buffer App crunched the data to reveal the ideal length for everything online. This included:

In summary, if mobile isn’t on your mind when talking about content and user experience then it really should be.

To test how mobile friendly your website is, type your URL into Google’s developer tool.

All of the major search engines are now very much social: Bing is happily in bed with Facebook, while Google, after a lot of flirting with Twitter, is risking leading its own social initiative with Google+. We at The Search Agency know the search engines want to buy into the social space; but where does the integration opportunity lie for brands?

What is clear already from the existing venture between Facebook and Bing is that the ‘search’ results within Facebook are now very much spilt between actual Facebook results and Bing results. And users are aware of this. People are ‘checking in’ all over Facebook and as they do this, not only are ads thrown into the mix, but search results are becoming increasingly targeted. It’s not terribly sophisticated, but users are interacting so we, like most, are beginning to conclude that Facebook and Bing are stepping in the right direction.

And now there is Google+ and the huge expectation that it will substantially boost Google’s ability to aggregate social activity and relevant search results. Google does search very well. Heck, Google does video, maps, mail and news all pretty well. To date, Google has not done the social thing terribly well – with the exception of YouTube, of course. And this is where the lines become a little blurred as YouTube is the second largest global search engine. Will Google+ prove Google has learnt a lesson from Buzz, Wave and other forays into social? Only time will tell if users will engage, but maybe Google should be swotting-up on more of what it does well and building this into their ‘social engine’.

Social campaigns will still lean towards Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in the latter half of 2011, but surely Google has learnt a thing or two by now. Can the number one search engine become a real social engine? We will just have to see!

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