How Will Kenyan Businesses Respond To Google’s ‘Mobile Friendly’ Search Results?
Yesterday Google announced what could be a very significant change in their ranking algorithm for search engine results. The announcement indicates that from the 21st of April 2015 (less than a month away as of this writing), Google mobile search results will prioritise websites that are deemed to be ‘mobile friendly’ above those that are not.
To say that Kenya is ‘mobile-first’ in every sense is not a cliche – it is a stark and harsh reality when you look at all the myriad data points. The fact is over 90% of Internet access in Kenya happens via mobile devices on mobile networks according to the Communications Authority. In addition, the unceasing surge in growth of low-cost and Android-powered smartphones means that 3G data uptake is hitting hitherto unseen thresholds. Indeed, Safaricom’s Bob Collymore last year confirmed in an interview that they see an almost 200% spike in revenue per user when they switch from a feature phone to a smartphone.
Given all the data-backed insights confirming that Kenya is closer to mobile-only that mobile-first, it will be interesting to see how many businesses rush to ensure that their corporate websites, micro sites and brand campaign landing pages conform to Google’s mobile-friendly search engine ranking criteria. The sad truth is that a good number of Kenyan websites do NOT conform to mobile friendly criteria which is appalling in this day and age – mobile as an Internet access channel is actually more significant in Kenya and most of Africa than it is in more developed markets globally.
Going forward, Google’s mobile friendly search algorithm upgrade means that businesses and brands who have bothered to ensure that they already conforming to this change can sit pretty! On the other hand, those that have non-compliant websites could potentially miss out on massive business opportunities as a result. One interesting fact is that over 90% of traffic to search engine result pages (SERPs) goes to the top 10 results on the first page. When you operate a business in a market with over 50% Internet penetration, which translates into over 20 million users who predominantly use mobile devices to get online, this could be a HUGE game changer!