‘Mobilegeddon’ could be felt in Park City | ParkRecord.com

‘Mobilegeddon’ could be felt in Park City

It has been dubbed "Mobilegeddon."

Beginning April 21, Google began rolling out a new search algorithm designed to give preference to mobile-friendly websites due to the skyrocketing popularity over the last 18 months of searches made from smartphones. Essentially, the algorithm boosts the standing of mobile-friendly sites on smartphone searches and penalizes those that are not optimized for mobile (though Google has said searches made from desktops aren’t affected).

According to a USA Today article published April 21, the algorithm change could hurt up to 40 percent of websites. But while it’s still unclear exactly how much affect it has had or will have, Chris Bachman, project director for Park City-based ProClass Web Design, said local businesses should be aware, lest their mobile web traffic suffer.

"In a resort town, a lot of business comes from people on smartphones, whether they’re tourists or locals who are out being active," he said. "To take your opportunity to have your website viewed by people on their phones and throw it out the door would be shocking to me."

Bachman said he has been busy since Google announced the change in February. Since then, he estimates he has revamped about 12 local websites, and he received calls from several businesses worried about their mobile traffic shortly before the deadline. He’s been so swamped, in fact, he hasn’t had time to optimize his own website.

"That’s a lot of 12 hour days for us," Bachman said.

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Restaurants are some of the most vulnerable businesses, Bachman said. However, they’re not the only ones that could see a hit to their web traffic.

"Restaurants are absolutely huge because probably 95 percent of their search traffic is done on smartphones," he said. "But there are a lot of other businesses that get hits on smartphones, too. If you think about tourists, what do tourists want to access while they’re in town?"

One business owner who chose to optimize his website was Jeff Manwaring of Exclusive Excursions, a Park City-based outdoor adventure company. He said he gets a good portion of his web traffic from smartphones, and his new site is much easier to navigate from a mobile device.

"I think that has definitely helped," he said. "Our website looks really good. With the old website, you kind of had to zoom in."

However, he said he is still behind a handful of competitors that don’t have mobile-friendly websites on smartphone searches.

"I thought it would help me be above them," he said.

Bachman said it’s a smart idea for businesses to have mobile-friendly websites regardless of Mobilegeddon’s effect because of the popularity of accessing the Internet from tablets and smartphones. The better experience a company can offer potential customers on its mobile website, the more likely it is to earn their business.

"A lot of people are on tablets and smartphones now," he said. "If people who own tablets are part of your client base, you should be paying attention. And everybody has got them. I mean, my wife has a full-size desktop, yet does much of her work on a tablet while sitting on the couch."

Manwaring agreed, saying he expects his new website to pay dividends as his business picks up this summer.

"Smartphones are so big now that people in Park City are googling activities and what to do on their phone probably more than their desktops," he said.

For more information on the algorithm change, and to test the mobile friendliness of a website, visit googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com.