Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Business warning as Google mobile deadline looms

Websites have until tomorrow to ensure they are mobile friendly to ensure they are not bumped down Google's search results.
Websites have until tomorrow to ensure they are mobile friendly to ensure they are not bumped down Google's search results.

Thousands of New Zealand businesses could have their websites bumped down Google's search rankings if they do not meet the requirements for mobile by tomorrow.

The search engine giant has set a deadline of April 21 for websites to ensure they were mobile-friendly, and those that did not meet the requirements risked being penalised by the search engine giant.

The requirements included being readable on smaller phone screens, not using software that was not compatible on mobiles and having links spaced out to make searching on mobiles easier for users.

Auckland based marketing consultant Fleur Revell from Impact PR said she had looked over websites of the NZX's top 50 companies earlier this month and found that half failed Google's online mobile readiness tool.

"Dynamic businesses that can adapt rapidly to Google's 500 algorithm changes each year will reap the rewards, while others will be relegated to virtual obscurity as their rankings slip off the coveted first page of Google," she said.

Revell said a quarter of the retail brands surveyed also failed to meet the requirements.

She said the biggest risk was for businesses that relied heavily on marketing directly to consumers and on bricks and mortar stores that used mobile searches to drive foot traffic.

"Retail is a particularly competitive industry and in the case of a shopping mall or district, mobile search driven foot traffic has become a key driver of sales," Revell said.

"Those sites which are mobile friendly can expect a significant boost in mobile search engine rankings, site traffic and potentially sales."

A number of high-profile international businesses had also reportedly failed the test, with Revell saying New Zealand was not alone in needing to prepare for the changes.

Google has an online test for webmasters to check their website's mobile capability here and tips on how they can make their sites more mobile-friendly.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that websites which did not meet the requirements for mobile could be cut from Google's search engine.

- NZ Herald

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