Do you need to be worried about Google's latest shake up? Yes you do!

With more and more people are using their smartphones to access the internet, Google is about to change the way its influential search engine recommends websites on smartphones. The shift is expected to sway where millions of people shop, eat and find information. It is really putting the "if you are not embracing technology, you will be left behind" mantra into practice.

The revised formula for search engine rankings, scheduled to be released Tuesday (local time), will favour websites that Google defines as "mobile-friendly."

What is the issue?

Websites that don't fit the description will be demoted in Google's search results on smartphones while those meeting the criteria will be more likely to appear at the top of the rankings — a prized position that can translate into more visitors and money. It makes sense if you put on Google's hat for a minute - if they know you're on a phone they want to send you a listing that works well on a phone.

Will your site pass the test?

To stay in Google's good graces, websites must be designed so they load quickly on mobile devices. Content must also be easily accessible by scrolling up and down — without having to also swipe to the left or right. It also helps if all buttons for making purchases or taking other actions on the website can be easily seen and touched on smaller screens.

If a website has been designed only with PC users in mind, the graphics take longer to load on smartphones and the columns of text don't all fit on the smaller screens, to the aggravation of someone trying to read it.

Google have provided a tool under the Webmasters Toolkit to allow website owners to find out if their site is considered "mobile-friendly"
You can access this tool using the link below, all you need to do is enter your website address and it will do the rest.

Take Google's Mobile-Friendly Test

What if your website doesn't pass?

If your site does not pass the test, contact your website developer. Your developer will be to give you an indication of what work might need to take place to make your site mobile friendly.

There is a chance it will be less involved if the required changes are minimal or your website is small. There are a couple of factors that will make it more involved, including having a lot of pages or if it uses tables in the content area.

If your website was built more recently in the last 3-6 months it's highly likely that no work will be required to pass Google's test. We have run some recently built websites through and they passed, but we have also had some fail - this is because it's Google creating the rules, not the industry.

Google's way or the highway

When it comes to search engines Google is king and unfortunately they are the ones writing the rules here. So what is best practice today will be quickly evolving to what Google wants.

What if you don't bother?

This change will not affect search results on desktop or laptop computers, but it will have a huge influence on how and where people spend their money, given that more people are relying on their smartphones to compare products in stores and look for restaurants.

There is a practical way to weigh up the importance of this. Just login to your Google Analytics (or ask your website developer to) and look at the number of visitors that are coming in on mobile. As a benchmark for some websites they only see 5-7% of visitors on mobile whereas others see 20-30%! If you have a high number of visitors viewing your website on mobile devices you will probably want to take action.

Remember if in doubt talk to your website developer!