For about 20 years, web searches were constant. Over the last 5 years, there have been many changes to search. As Google changes, so should your website.
As Google Changes, So Should Your Website
For almost 2 decades, the user interface for search remained unchanged. You visited a search engine like Yahoo, then later Google. This began on your desktop, then later on the laptop that you dragged to Starbucks. You typed a request for information and got a list of reasonably useful answers in return.
But, seemingly overnight, (but over the last 5 years) everything changed. Now, searching means utilizing a wide range of interfaces, including GPS devices, wearables, smart objects such as Amazon Echo and smartphone operating systems such as iOS and Android. Oh, and we’re not just lounging on our sofas at home, or looking for an outlet for the laptop at your local coffee shop when we search. We’re searching on the go. On phones and more.
Because we want information on the fly, and because we rely on a number of interfaces to find what we want, our search behaviors are changing.
For instance, when we’re behind the wheel of a car wearing an Apple Watch, or walking down a street carrying a Samsung phone, we’re using our voices more often than our fingertips to find what we want. And when we’re back home, we can order a pizza by talking to our Amazon devices or latest smart TV to find out who delivers.
A recent study by MindMeld, which provides voice search technologies, surveyed US smartphone users and found that 60 percent had started using voice search within the past year.
The surest way to see the voice impact is to look at search queries in Google Trends for phrases such as “restaurants near me,” or “Call Dad” which are highly unlikely to be typed into a search box.
Google stays on the move
Google has invaded the mobile market. Android, Google Now, Android Auto, Android Apps, Chrome, Drive, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Photos and more: they’re not a collection of differing technologies, but rather a way for Google to embed itself in the way we search on our terms, not Google’s. To stay relevant, Google has been on the move.
Apple rarely stumbles, but when Apple Maps debuted it was a misstep that elevated Google Maps as the Gold Standard. If you have a business of any type, especially a storefront, you simply don’t exist unless someone can find you on Google Maps.
Coming soon to a car near you
Google Auto. Android Auto is already available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the UK, and the US. The car manufacturers include Acura, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Bentley, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Citroen, Dodge, DS, Fiat, Ford, Genesis, GMC, Holden, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Mahindra, Maserati, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot, Renault, Skoda, Subaru, Suzuki, Vauxhall, Volkswagen, and Volvo. About half of these manufacturers have already launched vehicles with Android Auto aboard.
The biggest components of Auto Android? Google Maps (duh) and Google Now (search) along with phone/messaging and music.
Not ready to part with your car quite yet? There is another solution — third-party head units. Audio companies are now shipping receivers/CD players that support Android Auto. Alpine, Boss, Kenwood, JBL, Pioneer, and Sony all make head units with Android Auto included.
If you still have a website that is unresponsive to phones, large screen TV’s, car dashboards and more, you have had over a year since Google announced “significant” search downgrades for unresponsive sites. Google also recommends responsive websites.
And if you still think a responsive website is just for smartphones, you are mistaken. A responsive website looks great on an 80 inch TV, a 5 inch smartphone and everything in-between. It adapts to any screen and fills the screen. Your site (and your branding) remain the same, on any device. Here at Web It, we still see business with websites that take up only about half our widescreen laptop screens. News Flash: 4:3 CRT monitors went away for good about 8 years ago. This tells anyone, the site is a minimum of 5-6 years old. Ancient history in website years.
Understand that you need to be thinking like Google is thinking. If Google sees the writing on the wall and is making long-term bets on how search is evolving, so should you. That shift is happening much faster than you know.
Need a better reason? A responsive website is the best thing you can do to increase your footprint on the web. The first thing Google does when it sees you site is updated?
No more penalties in search returns.
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