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Insurance industry unprepared for the mobile web

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On the 21st April Google is implementing a change to its search algorithm that the company says will have a ‘significant’ effect on the visibility of websites in mobile search results.

This is an important issue for businesses generating revenue via online customers or those that want to associate their brand with modern online practices. According to a report from We Are Social over 30% of web pages are now served to mobile devices, a figure that is rising 39% year-on-year. Whilst 62% of pages are still being viewed via laptops or desktops, this number is declining 13% year-on-year.

Mobile friendly websites

A mobile friendly – or responsive – website is one whose information and features can be easily viewed and navigated on smaller screens. Many websites are still being displayed on mobile devices as small versions of the main site – and this is what Google is now looking to discourage.

Independent Research

With its strong links to the insurance market, The Marketing Campaign Company has researched the websites of over 200 insurers and brokers of all sizes across both the general and health insurance industries. The results showed that almost 70% of the websites analysed were not responsive and, as such are likely to be adversely affected by the Google algorithm change on the 21st April.

Insurers fared slightly better than brokers, with 37% of the insurer sites found to be responsive compared to 28% of broker sites.

Insurer Websites

Broker Websites

What does this mean for the insurance industry?

Broker and insurer sites that are not responsive are likely to see their natural rankings in Google’s mobile search results fall. Those that do have responsive sites should see an immediate rankings boost at the expense of others and, potentially, an increase in traffic flows. The exact extent of the impact this initial algorithm change is, however, still to be seen.

What can website owners do?

For business owners who feel this is an important issue, the obvious course of action is to make their websites mobile friendly. Business owners have a number of options including:

Make existing site responsive: Complexity depends on a number of factors – current site design, CMS used, extent of page templates used. Worth considering other options unless very straightforward.

Create a separate version site for mobile visitors: Opportunity to serve up more specific information for mobile consumption. Design less restricted by the main site design.

Design a new site altogether that works responsively: Opportunity to re-design a tired looking site or one that no longer presents company proposition in most effective manner.It’s only going to get worse for non-responsive sites

Search engine algorithms are constantly changing, with major updates often affecting levels of website visitors and rankings. This is likely the first in many updates from Google to strengthen the rankings of sites that accommodate viewers on all devices, so it’s important to keep on top of changes and make sure your website adheres to the latest requirements.

Google is making a big play at encouraging website owners to recognise that a significant amount of media is now consumed via mobile devices – and the trend will only continue in this direction. Their 21st April algorithm update will be a wake-up call to many and future changes could have be equally important – possibly even affecting rankings across non-mobile platforms as well as mobile.