It’s been almost a year since Mobile-egeddon, the day that Google issued its edict to website owners– go mobile or else.
Despite the doom and gloom, most websites appeared to have survived the algorithm update as their sites continue to appear on Google search. But that doesn’t mean that the trend towards mobile-friendly sites which began in 2012 has ended. In fact, as mobile usage continues to escalate making a mobile-friendly website is even more critical.
Is Mobile Really Necessary?
The short answer is yes and it begins with the consumer. More than 55% of Canadians own a smartphone which directly impacts internet access and usage.
The stats as compiled by Catalyst are compelling:
- There are 18 million smartphone owners in Canada and 7.8 million tablet owners
- Mobile represents about 68% of internet usage in Canada
And according to Google Nielsen, 77% of mobile searches occur at home – usually while watching TV.
Mobile searches also trigger additional actions and conversions. After searching on a mobile device a consumer may continue research later on a desktop; visit directly to a retailer’s website; share information via social media sites, or even visit the business directly.
In a recent report, Green Lotus SEO Tools (a Toronto based company that develops online search engine optimization tools) stated: “Google is now factoring in mobile friendliness into their search engine rankings algorithm.” Green Lotus notes that Google uses special tags indicating when a site is ‘mobile friendly’ right on the search results pages on smart phones. Go ahead – check.
The bottom line, if your site isn’t easy to access on a mobile device you could very well be missing potential consumers.
Mobile vs Responsive:
Unfortunately, these two terms are used interchangeably and there is an important distinction.
A responsive design, builds web pages that are able to detect the visitors screen size and orientation and adjusts the layout to fit.
It’s not about making the site smaller to fit the screen. A responsive design will
make structural adjustments so the site is easier to use on a mobile device. For example, in some sites, the navigation becomes a single drop-down menu bar and the copy on the page folds in a singular fashion reading vertically.orientation and adjust the layout to fit.
While a responsive design is always mobile-friendly – they aren’t necessary mobile sites.
A mobile website has a separate URL, most often a sub-domain within a business domain name. And these sites are not only designed for mobile devices but for mobile usage.
Take-out restaurants are ideal mobile website candidates. Searching on a mobile device, a visitor is most likely looking for location, menu and quick ordering methods – because they are on the fly. For sure they wouldn’t be looking for a blog or a complete history of the restaurant.
So, all websites need to have a responsive design so that they are mobile friendly. And there are times when a company may want to go one step further and have a separate mobile site.
Thinking now that perhaps your business site is already mobile friendly, test it out with this Google Tool that will rate your mobile friendly design: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
How can you upgrade your website?
And it really is an upgrade.
There are several online web developer resources that state there is code that can be installed on a website to make it responsive – presto. Beware of overly simplified solutions. The transition isn’t always seamless.
Another solution is to opt for a re-design and there are many good reasons for doing so. Keep in mind that the bones of the website (photos, copy) remain intact, but there’s always a reason to polish, update and refresh a website – here is the moment.
During the transition to mobile-friendly, keep in mind:
- Plan and check. Begin with an audit of the materials currently on the website and anything that might need updating and fixing. After the upgrade, check and double check on a variety of devices. With the different views you notice different problems.
- This is the time to fix, repair, update or change any of those annoying things that have been ignored for the past couple of years.
- This is the perfect opportunity to add new features: blog; social media buttons; or even online forms.
- Are there staff resources to start managing the website internally with a CMS (content management system)? Having the ability to make small timely changes in-house over relying on the web developer is both a cost and time saver. And progressive CMS systems offer responsive designs that may require only minor modifications to meet your company needs.
- Be prepared to make concessions particularly ,photos which can be problematic for mobile devices that rely on speed! Be prepared with an assortment of alternative materials and logos.
Future Google algorithm updates will no doubt favour searches on mobile devices – because that’s the consumer trend. Google has been very clear that sites that are mobile friendly will appear on mobile search pages before non-mobile friendly websites.
In the end, without a mobile friendly design your site will be lose traffic, because users either won’t be able to find it, or worse they won’t be able to read it. Mobile friendly websites – it’s the future.