Did you know that in a recent Google survey, it was found that 72 percent of mobile users say it is important to them that websites are mobile-friendly? And that of those 72 percent, a whopping 79% will return to search to find a mobile-optimized site? If that’s not enough for you to make sure your mobile strategy is on point, consider this: just last month Google began sending out mass emails to sites that aren’t mobile friendly, warning them that not going mobile carries the risk of rankings penalties. Mobile is now mandatory, especially if you’re running your business online.
A Steady Progression to a Mobile Priority
According to the PewResearchCenter, more than 58% of American adults had a smartphone in 2014, and 34% of American adults use their cell phone as their primary tool for mobile searches, rather than a laptop or desktop computer. And while it’s a no-brainer that having a mobile-friendly website creates a more favorable user experience for your target audience, what you may not know is that search engines are paying close attention to these statistics and changing their algorithms to follow suit. While reports last week of a mobile-targeted algorithm update proved to be a false alarm, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the headlines come to reality in early 2015.
Think about it. It’s ultimately the goal of search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to deliver the best possible result for their users, one that is informative and helpful. So it’s only a natural progression that search engines would want to stop showing websites that aren’t mobile friendly. Their users don’t like it, why should they rank it?
Google’s announcement that they will no longer rank non-mobile friendly websites on smartphone searches is just the next step in their steady progression to supporting mobile usability. Google has been slowly but surely gearing up for an all-mobile world over the past few years and kicked it into high gear in late 2014. In September, the search giant tested smartphone-friendly icons in search results. Then, in October they took it in another direction by testing non-mobile friendly icons to give users a heads up that their user experience might be less than the best. They also incorporated a mobile usability section into Webmaster Tools to help site owners understand areas for improvement.
In November, Google released the mobile test tool, which allowed site owners to get a “grade” on their mobile usability and provided suggested quick-fixes to help them get up to snuff. This all culminated with the announcement that Google will in fact take usability into effect when ranking on mobile, and put to bed the long-standing mystery as to when Google would actually make the move.
More Reasons Why You Need to Go Mobile
While it remains to be seen if desktop rankings will also be affected by the change, it’s clear that to dominate in your business, your mobile strategy needs to be on point. As more and more consumers come to expect a streamlined experience on mobile and desktop, their buying behavior is reflecting it. Non-mobile sites can give an aura of being outdated, hurting the always-important “trust factor” of your website – and keeping users’ credit cards in their wallets. In the same Google survey mentioned above, 55% of respondents said that not having a mobile friendly website, damages their perception of the brand overall – meaning a brand’s slow adaptation to mobile commerce could result in reverberating repercussions.
So, How Do You Get There?
So now that you know you need a mobile strategy. Where to begin? The task can seem daunting for large and small businesses alike, but in fact taking even small steps toward mobile usability can lead to big returns.
Start with an Audit
If you’re looking to evaluate the health of your mobile strategy, one of the best places to start is with Google’s mobile test tool. This tool will grade your website on its mobile usability and specifically pinpoint areas for improvement. While some will require intensive technical work, others can actually be quick fixes.
Also, take a look at your mobile traffic in Google Analytics, and compare metrics such as time on site, bounce rate, and goal conversions to that of desktop traffic. Evaluating how your users are behaving on your website, as well as how you would actually like them to behave, is a great way to help you prioritize tasks in the mobile transition. For example, are users diving right into the contact page? Adding an immediate call to action on the homepage can eliminate an extra step and help you shore up more leads.
Put Yourself in Your Users’ Shoes
Though it can be difficult to objectively view your website, visiting the site on mobile and going through the actual steps you would like consumers to take it a great way to identify any pain points or areas of improvement. Chances are, if you find a particular item confusing or frustrating, your users are as well. Make this a task for your employees or trusted friends, as well, and have them identify what they felt was left to be desired. This allows you to collect data from different devices and different points of view.
Explore Your Options
After you’ve gathered this data, you will be able to make a more informed decision about the best way to pursue your mobile strategy – whether it requires a complete overhaul or some quick fixes. Businesses that are looking for a relatively quick and inexpensive solution can explore “converter” tools such as DudaMobile, bMobilized and WompMobile, which use their own software to serve up a responsive design to users. Other options include creating an app, creating a mobile subdomain or subfolder, or building a responsive website design. Often times, responsive design is the most comprehensive and best long-term solution for mobile, however each business has unique needs that must be taken into account.
At the rate of mobile growth and search engine changes in response, it appears the only real wrong decision for mobile is not making one. So if you’re looking for ways to boost revenue or even maintain revenue in 2015 and beyond, it all may just start with a look at your smartphone.