Editor’s Note: To get local-level marketing insight for this post, we tapped our Digital Marketing Manager Katie Dolan. Katie spends her days one-on-one with clients and their local affiliates implementing and managing online marketing programs. We got her to take a break to explain the importance of mobile websites for brands looking to win the local search game.

Small businesses are not always the first to adopt new digital marketing tactics, but that isn’t an excuse to ignore a growing potential customer base online. Knowing certain online efforts are more important than others, we try to focus on the “can’t miss” opportunities that should be embraced no matter how cash-strapped a local marketing budget is. The topic at hand here: mobile search.

Google: people start at searchStudies vary, but we estimate that only 50-70 percent of small business have websites today. What’s worse: 95 percent aren’t mobile-friendly, meaning they will not render successfully on mobile devices.

Don’t think it matters? Consider that 64 percent of US adults use a smartphone and the number of mobile searches surpassed desktop searches earlier this year. It’s these factors and more that brought us to what many refer to as Google’s “Mobilegeddon” — watch our shortvideo below to learn more.

Local Marketing and the Mobilegeddon

Click here to test if your website is mobile friendly.

Local marketers struggle with digital. Only 53 percent of them have a website and less than 5 percent are mobile-friendly.

Why does this all matter? Because search is the most common starting point for consumers on their mobile device. Phrases like “nearby” are increasing. Specifically, the phrase “near me” is used 34 times more than it was in 2011. In Q4 2014, 80 percent of these searches came from a mobile device.

And consumers are doing more than just searching: 50 percent of consumers who conduct a mobile search, go to a store within 24 hours. Of those, 20 percent make a purchase. That makes 1 of every 5 people who find your store through mobile search a potential customer.

This is the behavior that brought us to the brink of Google’s Mobilegeddon. “Mobilegeddon” is the term marketers use to describe the changes Google made in April 2015. This gives people searching on their mobile devices the best experience possible. Mobilegeddon gives people mobile results. For brands, this means the more mobile friendly pages you have, the more likely you are to have those five people find you.

Let’s think about margaritas for a second: if we do a search for Margaritas and I’m in Cleveland, here’s what comes up first (see video). Why does it come up first?  Because the pages use relevant terms, are on mobile friendly websites and are places near me.

So what can marketers do for their local sites?

1) Test their website: use Google’s  free tools to determine if their site passes the test. (Link to test if your site is mobile friendly.) If not, they should reach out to their web team to see what it would take to make their website mobile friendly.

2) Make it easy for people and Google to find basic info about their company — company name, store hours, address, phone number, pricing, etc. — all of this information should be front and center on their website.

3) And finally, take a look at their Google Analytics. If mobile organic traffic is declining month-over-month, chances are that they’re being affected by Mobilegeddon.

Mobilegeddon isn’t a cruel trick by Google; it’s a reaction by them to better serve consumers. And local marketers should get on board.

Have a question you want our Local Marketing Experts to tackle? Just email us at LocalExperts@brandmuscle.com or leave us a question in the comments below.