UPDATE: Since this article appeared, ROI.com.au founder and director Ewan Watt has also appeared on the ABC radio program ‘The World Today’ as coverage of Mobilegeddon picked up pace in newspapers and on the airwaves. Read the transcript. On April 1, Ewan was quoted in the Herald-Sun story Rules for Search Set to Roam.
WITH less than 24 hours until it goes live, Mobilegeddon has hit the headlines in the mainstream media with a leading Australian business group taking a swipe at Google for not giving companies enough time to adapt.
Recently in the firing line while fronting the Australian Senate tax inquiry, Google copped a serve from the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA), whose executive director Peter Strong said the change was reflective of Google’s search engine dominance.
“You can have a great website, have a good business and offer a product at a great price, but it’s a bit unfair if customers can’t find you,” he told Fairfax Media in articles that have appeared in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
On ABC Melbourne radio, Mornings host Jon Faine said websites that worked on mobiles would be given priority in the rankings.
“A massive shift by Google will force many businesses to urgently review their Internet presence or their businesses might virtually disappear,” Faine said.
Our exclusive research shows more than half of Australia’s top 200 companies could be affected after the mobile-friendly update goes live on Smartphones tomorrow and that up to 66% of all websites are not optimised for mobiles and won’t be ready for the shift.
But ROI.com.au founder and director Ewan Watt, who was quoted in the same article, said the change had been in the pipeline for some time. MORE: Google to rank ‘mobile-friendly’ sites higher
“This is not something that has happened overnight. It’s been happening for at least three years as a trend,” he said.
“There are two ways to look at this – as a negative or as an opportunity. The opportunity is that a small business with a five-page website can spend a modest amount of money and can turn this into an advantage and get ahead of their competition.”
Another peak business group agrees.
In the article in The Age, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the change benefits web searchers and businesses alike.
“This is overwhelmingly the way the Internet is going and business can’t resist that. They need to adapt and being web savvy is not a nice to have but a need to have,” director of economics and industry policy John Osborn said.
“That’s the competitive environment that all businesses must survive in and it will, ultimately, make them stronger and more targeted to consumer preferences.”
Google flagged the ‘mobile-friendly’ update in in February and nominated April 21 as the roll out date for the full algorithm in early March. At the time, Google made it clear the update would make it easier for people to find websites that were “not only relevant and timely, but also easy to read and interact with on smaller mobile screens”.
“We’ve been offering resources for webmasters to test their mobile sites and tools to make their pages mobile-friendly. We’ll use a web page’s ‘mobile-friendliness’ as one of many factors to help rank searches done on mobile devices,” Google said.
With Melbourne and Sydney Smartphone users enjoying some of the fastest mobile Internet speeds in the world, searching on the go is now an important factor for businesses to consider for connecting with their customers.
MORE: Mobile Usage Fast Facts
According to Ewan Watt, this makes Google’s decision to change the mobile web experience vital for Australian businesses to embrace.
“The internet is becoming a bigger part of our lives. The number of ways people use the Internet is growing exponentially. Therefore, Google is under more and more pressure to stay relevant and their market share is likely to be challenged, quite rightly, in the next couple of years, which I think is a good thing,” he said.