Google-MobileIowa businesses that don’t have a mobile-friendly website may be pushed down the list when potential customers search for them on Google, under changes coming this month.

The world’s most popular Internet search engine wants to better accommodate people who use smart phones and tablets, according to Rob Rance, president of the digital division of an advertising firm in Omaha-Council Bluffs.

Rance says, “With 50-percent of searches online being conducted on a mobile device, businesses that get business from online are going to be negatively affected if they are not compliant with a mobile-friendly website.” Mobile-friendly means the website is designed to adapt to any screen size. Google is used in seven of every ten searches and with half of all searches being done with a smart phone or tablet, he says it makes sense that mobile-friendly websites take precedence.

Google Analytics is a free testing tool that can be used to analyze a website to see if it’s designed to be mobile friendly. “It will actually tell you for your own business exactly how many mobile searches you’re getting on a monthly basis,” Rance says. “Then, you can see that if you don’t have a responsive site, you can tell exactly how many visitors you’re probably not going to get as a result of this algorithm change.”

Google says the changes will go into effect April 21st. Rance, who works for Sleight Advertising, says it’s a good idea for Iowa businesses to make the necessary changes now. Rance says, “In my experience, it’s probably reasonable to assume that most businesses could take as much as a 30-to-50% dip in their online search traffic by not being responsive.” He notes, about 90-percent of consumers check out a business website before visiting a store or making a purchase.