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.

On Tuesday evening Facebook launched Graph Search which is essentially an overhaul of its search service. Most commentators agree that Search has been an Achilles Heel for Facebook, so this is a welcome announcement. People will now be able to search through information and photos that their friends have posted as well as find places friends have recommended.

With a company page on Facebook being a key element in a lot of brands’ digital strategy, we caught up with Firefly partner, Ben Gibson at The Search Agency UK to find out what Facebook’s latest announcement means for companies.

Following this announcement, Ben highlights the importance of three elements in order to ensure a brand gets the best out of Facebook – Implementation of SEO practices on Facebook, local search optimisation and quality (not quantity) of Likes.

To ensure Facebook pages are optimised for SEO and easily searchable on the site, Ben says that “A basic SEO framework, including vanity URLs and business information, needs to be applied. We expect that brands will have to further develop their search strategy that optimises their placement within the Facebook ecosystem. Edgerank has long been important, and will be more so now that there is a new way to access information and objects.  However, there is a challenge when it comes to assessing impact of search strategies; the data on search volumes, ranking etc will remain with Facebook. A proxy for this may be greater analysis of Bing ranking data. ”

“For local businesses or regional branches of larger organisations, ensuring the correct information is prominent on the page means that there is the opportunity to nurture a good local Facebook community to gain greater prominence within Facebook results.”

Achieving a good ranking in Facebook Graph search results will also be dependent on Likes. Once upon a time, the number of Likes was a way of measuring success on Facebook, to the point of people buying fake Likes (something Facebook has been cracking down on). Now the emphasis has shifted to quality Likes – i.e. the recognition from individuals with large networks who are deemed more influential.

“There has been much discussion over the last few years regarding the value of a Facebook Like but Graph Search will make it even more important for brands to generate quality Likes so their pages can be found. Buying Likes is highly unlikely to be a shortcut for success!” he said.

“Because Facebook will allow users to search by people, places, photos, interests, it means there’ll be a focus on quality content that ticks all these boxes. For example, if your business has a physical presence, you’ll want to think about location indicators.”

A high ranking in Facebook will be something earned by companies. Facebook’s Graph Search is currently in beta test so it is early days yet, but one thing’s for sure, social search is evolving. Google + is the other contender is this space and brands need to prepare as these two tech giants make changes and do battle. According to Charles Arthur at the Guardian, Facebook and Google are like two icebergs on a collision course. We’re braced for impact.

 This post was written by Charlotte.

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