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Google to Penalize Websites That Are Not Mobile-Friendly

Is your website mobile readyshutterstock_209175247? If not, Google will start penalizing your search rankings beginning April 21.
Google recently announced that it would be expanding how it uses website mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. In their official statement, they announced that this will have a “significant impact” on search results, meaning websites that are not mobile optimized — that is, non-responsive to different screen sizes or configured to be viewed on multiple devices — will see a heavy drop in traffic.
At Hearsay Social, we have suspected these changes for some time based on prior Google announcements. And once the April 21 changes take effect, the impact will be significant.
Moreover, Google rarely provides in such clear terms the secret behind their ranking algorithms, and the fact that they have done so here creates an opportunity to meet the demands of a changing era.
Are your advisor websites prepared?
Many financial services companies have realized the importance of mobile in the past few years and have invested in optimizing their corporate websites. One area frequently overlooked, however, has been advisor websites. This is especially important because mobile searches often return local results, according to a ComScore study, which stated that 56% of “on-the-go” mobile searches had local intent.
Are your advisor websites mobile optimized?
The good news is Google can help answer that question for you. They have provided webmasters with a tool that crawls a website and grades the mobile usability – a tool that very likely works in the same way that their ranking algorithm does.
Check out the Google Mobile Friendly test here
Try it out for yourself, how did your websites do? 80/100? 90/100? 95/100?
While doing research during the development of our Hearsay Sites product we found that most advisor sites were either not mobile optimized and scored in the low 50s or partially-optimized, bringing their score into the high 80s or low 90s. So if you scored in the 90s, congratulations, you’re doing better than many of your peers.
As we’ve developed our product using a mobile-first adaptive and responsive approach we’ve found that scores of 98 or 100 are not only possible, but really the only ones that should be acceptable. We never design for the test, but have found repeatedly that when our expert designers are given the tools and freedom to approach mobile design in the way they know is best for consumers, the results will follow.
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What can you do?
April 21 is just around the corner. While you may not have time to launch new advisor websites in under two months, there might be some minor fixes you can put in place to minimize the damage.
As you begin an undertaking to refresh your advisor sites, we recommend asking why your websites got so far behind in the first place. The answer is often that you were using an inflexible system or outdated technology. The reality is that the web is a constantly evolving ecosystem and if you aren’t prepared to move at the pace of change, your websites will be out of date the day they launch. Unfortunately, this is all too often the case in our industry.
At Hearsay Social we have a different approach to advisor websites. We take care of the technology. Your team and advisors provide the great content that consumers are looking for – what we do is keep the website up to date with the latest standards in SEO, mobile usability, markup, CSS, and other capabilities.
If your websites are already mobile friendly, great! But if not, and you find yourself too busy to stay up to date with the ever changing world of SEO, web standards, and Google algorithms, it may be time to explore how a technology partner can help you provide up to date tools for your advisors.