DECATUR — A change that went into effect last week in how Google searches are processed has raised concern that websites that are not mobile-friendly will be harder to find.
The change relates to the algorithm of how Google determines where websites rank in a search from a mobile device. Google will use the new method to label a site either mobile-friendly or not, then rank it accordingly, with mobile-friendly sites appearing first.
That could affect businesses which attract customers looking for information especially while away from home, said Bill Lehmann, president of Jones & Thomas, a marketing firm in Decatur.
“I’d really hate for them to miss out on opportunities because they can’t be found,” Lehmann said. “Sites that are not mobile-friendly could be in trouble to a certain extent.”
About half of Internet searches are now done from mobile devices, Lehmann said. Many of the searches tend to be from users looking for places to eat or shop locally, he said.
Regularly formatted websites don’t always show up or function as well on mobile devices, Lehmann said.
Businesses should adjust their sites to make them mobile-friendly, said Cayla Hittmeier, digital advertising specialist for the Herald & Review.
“You must make certain your website is mobile-friendly,” Hittmeier said. “While you’re at it, take it a step further and be certain your website is responsive across all devices, including tablets like iPads and Kindles.”
Assistance is available for businesses wanting to make sure their websites function properly, Lehmann said.
“It’s important to find somebody who can help them,” Lehmann said. “The ease of building websites has improved, but there still is a lot of functionality that goes into it.”
This isn’t the first time Google has changed its search algorithms, he said.
Hittmeier expects other search engines such as Yahoo or Bing to follow Google’s lead.
“The truth is Google is constantly revising their search algorithms and changing the game,” Hittmeier said.
Lehmann said the conversion process can be completed fairly quickly, thus minimizing the number of potential customers businesses lose out on.