Google’s search engine changes have severely damaged small businesses, with online traffic decreasing by 50 per cent for many SMEs.
In March, SME Insider reported that Google were gearing up to change its algorithms, making it harder for small businesses to be found on the search engine by potential customers.
Websites that haven’t been optimized for mobile and require a “pinch and zoom” function to be viewed on a smartphone have been targeted by Google in an attempt to force SMEs to become mobile compatible. These change came have now come into force and are already plaguing SMEs, according to research created by marketing agency Koozai.
The survey questioned 1000 small business owners. The business community is alarmed by Google’s actions, with 32 per cent of those questioned stating that they were concerned by the changes as it could harm sales. Nearly half (42 per cent) of businesses claimed they had experienced changes to their rankings or traffic as a result of the Google update.
The study has also found that businesses had experienced a drop in organic rankings and traffic even though they had optimized their websites for mobile.
‘‘The survey reveals inconsistent effects are being felt by businesses that has resulted in confusion and concern. When a business has optimized for mobile then drops three places, it is understandable that they feel angry that they have acted on Google’s warnings and yet have still experienced a negative impact,’’ commented Ben Norman, CEO of Koozai.
One small business owner who has been affected by the algorithm changes is Stephen Bennett, owner of StopProcrastinatingApp.com, an internet blocker and web filter company. Bennet claims that the changes imposed by Google have decreased the traffic on his website by 50 per cent.
‘‘I had taken the warning so did not expect that the update would affect my company. I realised something was wrong a week after the update. Traffic to my website from Google searches had dropped by 50pc.’’
Bennet is angered by the approach that Google has taken, an action that could have put his company out of business.
‘‘It is not only costly when your website drops places but also it costs money to pay experts to try to find out the reason why,’’ explained Bennet. ‘‘It could have put me out of business,’’ he added.
Google gave a lacklustre response to these complaints, citing material already posted on its blog.
‘‘We’ve been encouraging webmasters to create sites that avoid the pitfalls of small text and hard-to-navigate formatting. Non-mobile-friendly sites won’t disappear from search results – they may still rank high if they hold great content,’’ said a Google spokesman.
If you’re a small business owner struggling to adapt with these algorithm changes, find out how you can protect your website from being underrepresented online.