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What Google's New Update Means for Small Business Owners

Google changes its search algorithms all the time, and it's pretty rare that small business owners need to take notice. But the latest change, put into effect last week, could be taking potential customers away from you.

On 21 April, Google announced that not having a mobile-optimised website would hurt companies' search rankings when users searched from a mobile device.

If you're not familiar with mobile optimisation, the premise is simple: on a properly optimised site, when someone visits your website from their mobile, they'll get a different version of the page that's easier to read on a smaller device (you can see an example above).

What Google's new algorithm means in practice is that if you don't have a mobile-optimised site, and a potential customer runs a search from their mobile, your site will show up further down on the search results page.

What Can I Do?

The first thing you should do in response to this change is to determine if you have a mobile-optimised site (if you don't know already). Go to your website from your mobile and take note of what it looks like—if it looks the same as when you go to your site from your computer, it's not mobile-optimised.

If your site is already optimised, great! You have nothing to worry about.

If it's not, you should seriously consider having it updated. If you have no idea how to do that, don't worry; there are plenty of resources that will help you make the transition. Google has a great getting started guide for businesses looking to go mobile.

And if it's been a long time since you've updated your website, you might want to consider creating a new one altogether. It takes time, and some money, but customers know a cheap website when they see one, and that doesn't inspire confidence. Check out InMotion, HostMonster, HostGator, iPage, FatCow, or Yahoo! Web Hosting if you're thinking about building a new site.

Don't Get Burned

You might not think that going down a few places in the Google search rankings is a big deal, but it can have a huge impact on the number of visitors to your small business website. This is something that should be taken seriously.

Even if you don't get much traffic from mobile browsers, taking the time to create a mobile-optimised site (or just starting over from scratch, if you need it) will pay off.

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