Google is switching up its algorithm to favor mobile-friendly websites in mobile searches, and that's going to leave many advisers hidden when prospects scan search results.
Starting Tuesday, Google's mobile search engine will display mobile-friendly websites highest, meaning those sites that are optimized for smartphones and tablets will show up first in search results.
The change by the tech giant is expected to change mobile search results greatly, and seriously affect advisers who are not mobile-ready. With so many people turning to their phones to shop or get information on local businesses, advisers will need to update their sites or they will see a drop in where they're listed on search results.
"There's always the discussion that advisers may be a little bit late as far as adopting new technologies," said Walter Lis, a digital marketing strategist who works with financial advisers. "However, they really can't run from the results."
Many searches are conducted on smartphones. A 2013 report by Google on mobile use found that 94% of smartphone users search for local information; 84% of those users act on the searches they conduct, such as contacting a business.
And yet, advisers are not taking the hint.
InvestmentNews' 2015 Tech Study found that 41% of advisory firms do not have websites optimized for mobile use. Another 44% said their websites were optimized, and 16% were unsure.
Google has given advisers plenty of time to prepare for the change, now known as "Mobilegeddon," but there's been little budge, said Joel Bruckenstein, co-founder of the T3 Technology Tools for Today conferences.
"Advisers deal with so many issues on a daily basis," Mr. Bruckenstein said. "Technology isn't on the top of the list."
Mobile-friendly websites are even farther down that list, he said.
But when prospects can't find them, advisers may change their tune.
"This might be the catalyst," Mr. Lis said. "If we get a big change in a week or two, maybe advisers will start to see their traffic has dropped dramatically through mobile searches."
Advisers can assess whether their websites are responsive to mobile devices by using the test provided by Google. Advisers should also consider speaking with their website providers or looking into the back-end of their website platforms, like WordPress's dashboard, for example, to see if there's an easy way to switch to mobile-friendly websites. Google also has offered a guide to being more mobile-friendly.