'Mobilegeddon'?: Google search change could hit small businesses

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A change in Google's search algorithm that favors sites that are mobile friendly could hurt small businesses, which generally can't afford to have a vibrant mobile presence compared to larger companies.

Beginning Tuesday, Google will alter how it ranks websites in mobile searches based on mobile-friendly criteria. The change was announced in February, and the Web giant said the shift will make it easier for consumers to get "relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices."

With Google's change imminent, social media has latched on to the shift as a potential "mobilegeddon" for small businesses. Roughly 80 percent of smaller employers don't have a mobile-friendly website or app. (Tweet This)

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So what's a small business to do?

A big change for Google
A big change for Google   

Mobile-friendly designs

The short answer is move ahead on mobile solutions, and fast.

Small businesses often hold back on mobile investments because they perceive a high barrier of entry due to costs and lack of understanding of the technology, says Hari Ravichandran, chief executive of Endurance International Group, which provides cloud-based solutions to small businesses.

In fact, creating a mobile site can be an extension of a standard desktop website, says Doug Brackbill, CEO of San Francisco-based Line2, which helps businesses get on board with the broad BYOD, or bring your own device to work, trend. "Reach out to whoever started your site to begin with," Brackbill said.

Google, meantime, is offering tips on its blog including a view function that allows businesses to see how their pages look during a mobile search. The mobile-friendly test can be found here.

The company's nod to mobile-friendly pages comes as mobile traffic via smartphones and tablets continues to soar. Traffic on emerging platforms accounts for nearly 60 percent of all digital media time spent, according to a 2014 report from comScore.

"As people increasingly search on their mobile devices, we want to make sure they can find content that's not only relevant and timely, but also easy to read and interact with on smaller mobile screens," according to a Google statement.

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