Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Is Your Website "Mobile-Friendly" And Why That's So Important, Especially To Google

The writing has been on the wall for some time now. You may be hearing things like...

Mobile is an important part of your online success and without a mobile strategy, your business will suffer long-term

People will stop visiting your site via their mobile device if you don't support a mobile layout

Google will penalize you for not having a mobile-friendly presence on the web when people use search on their mobile device

Everyone is using smartphones (and tablets) to access the web

Do you believe all the hype around the importance of having a mobile strategy? You should... and here's why.

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In the book Digital Minds - 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing, I had the honor of contributing to the book and wrote Chapter 11 - Mobile Marketing: On The Move. In that chapter, I shared several reasons why mobile is such an important channel to connect with your customers (and prospects), as well as ways to engage with them via the device that's on us pretty much 24-7-365. I talk about the growing impact of social media on mobile devices, ways to use text/SMS messages for alerts and notifications, GPS and location based capabilities and of course, the importance of your website being able to welcome (and support) mobile visitors. In fact, there's an entire chapter on Responsive Web Design written by my good friend, Doug Schust, that you should also read.

What's Responsive Web Design?

Good question! If you're not familiar with RWD, it's the latest way to develop a website that is able to dynamically respond to the size of the visitor's screen size and present information in a way that's easy for them to browse and navigate. The best part about RWD is that as a business/site owner, you only need to maintain ONE version of your content, and technology is responsible for presenting it in the best layout for your visitor - regardless of what type of device they are using for their visit.

Example of a Mobile-friendly
search result listing
It's this last point, the readiness of your website to support mobile visitors, that I want to focus on today. Recently, Search Engine Land posted an article called Google Officially Launches "Mobile-Friendly" Labels In Mobile Search Results, which talks about the search engine giant rolling out a new label that lets mobile searchers know before they visit a site if it's mobile friendly or not. This is huge because if someone is using their mobile device to search (which happens a LOT) and your site is listed but is not "mobile-friendly," there's a very good chance the person doing the search will skip your site for one that is "mobile-friendly." Additionally, the article indicates that Google has also made some tweaks to their mobile search formula (i.e. their algorithm), so regardless of how well your SEO (search engine optimization) is for desktop search, your mobile search rankings will start to suffer.

How Does Google Know?

That's a silly question, really... Don't you know that Google knows everything!? Or, at least it seems that way. Seriously though, Google has developed a mobile-friendly testing tool to help business owners determine the mobile friendliness of their website. It's a good idea for all website owners to test their site with this tool to see how Google sees it. We've tested a lot of sites and a vast majority of them fail the test and do NOT provide a mobile friendly experience for their visitors on mobile devices. If this happens, don't panic (yet), but you're certainly going to want to develop a strategy to get something in place for 2015.

How quickly you'll need to react depends on the amount of mobile traffic that you may be losing. While it's difficult to know how many people simply "never visit" because of this new notification in Google search results, one thing you can do (assuming you have Google Analytics installed on your site) is to check the amount of mobile traffic that IS coming now. This can at least give you an idea of the number of people that are stopping by and having a "less than optimal visit" if you're not providing a mobile-friendly experience. Checking this statistic is simple, if you know where to find it. Just get logged in to GA and go to Audience > Mobile > Overview and that will give you the stats (as you can see in the screenshot below). 

One out of every four visitors to this site are using a mobile device!

I like to click on the "pie chart" to turn the numbers into a graphic that makes the story easier to read. In the above example, the "green slice" clearly shows that over 27% of their current traffic coming from mobile devices (and another 7% coming from tablets). That's over a quarter of all visitors are coming from a small-screen, handheld device! Without a mobile version for them to browse, these folks likely won't be sticking around very long (or come back again anytime soon).

What's The Next Step?

If you've not done so already, I want to strongly encourage you to test your website to see if Google thinks you're "mobile-friendly." If not, then we should talk. We've got some amazing tools that we can use to help build a mobile strategy for your business. Whether it's time for a "complete overhaul" of your entire web presence and digital marketing strategy, or you're on a budget and need something a bit more economical, we can help. WSI has helped literally thousands of businesses around the globe implement mobile-friendly strategies and we'll be happy to put our expertise to work for you!

Bonus Webinar

On a recent Free Webinar Wednesdays, I talked about mobile and I shared the presentation I delivered at WSI's Digital Summit in Boca Raton earlier this year. You can watch the replay below and it goes into even more reasons why mobile should be at the top of your list for the coming year!

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