We heart our phones. We really do. Did you know that 60% of U.S. adults now choose smartphones and tablets over PCs to find information before they buy anything offline? With more people spending more time on their mobile devices, the pressure is on to make sure your website is mobile friendly.
Mobile-responsive sites are those that “respond” to a user’s screen size. This means having a site that looks good no matter what kind of device someone is using – smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.
On April 21, this will become even more important. That’s the date Google has picked to start penalizing non-mobile friendly sites. That’s right — Google is going to start lowering the rankings of any site that isn’t mobile ready. Google wants to give searchers the best results possible, and sending someone to a site that’s difficult or impossible to read via mobile is not a good experience.
In a recent blog post, Geary LSF Earned Media Manager, Matt Fellows, wrote, “As the leading search engine, Google wants people to have the best experience possible. But when someone searches and clicks to a site that requires pinching and zooming to the point of mental instability, that makes Google a less effective product. That, understandably, is not OK with Google. Their answer to this problem is simple: don’t include crappy mobile sites in the index. And so they have graciously provided fair warning to webmasters that if their content isn’t easily navigable and viewed on a mobile device, they’re not going to do well on everyone’s favorite search engine.”
Google says about 50% of searches are carried out on mobile devices. That number is only likely to grow as mobile penetration increases across the globe. The impact of Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm is predicted to be huge. Search Engine Land reported that it will have more of an impact on Google’s search results than either the previous Panda or Penguin updates.
Mobile friendliness has now become the standard. It will separate companies that have proactively opted into mobile versus those that cannot see the benefit of a strong mobile presence for their customers, their brand, and their search engine marketing efforts.
According to Business Insider, here are just a few of the brands that are going to be penalized under the new update: Nintendo, Windows Phone, Versace, the official website of the British Monarchy, American Apparel, Dyson, and The Daily Mail. Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Tool to see if your site will be joining them.
The good news is that mobile-friendly sites will most likely get a boost in their ranking that will ultimately lead to more traffic. This is critical for anyone implementing search engine marketing, but especially for those using an omni-channel approach.
Effective omni-channel marketing maximizes performance across SEO, paid search, display, content marketing, and social media through a holistic cross-channel analytics “information hub.” Omni-channel enables marketers to see the whole picture instead of individual silos. This allows for strategic optimization of an entire channel mix to best meet audience needs and marketing objectives.
Mobile devices are the fuel of the omni-channel revolution and reaching those users is essential for long-term success. By 2018, mobile devices will account for 30% of global retail e-commerce spending, up from 15 percent in 2013 (Juniper Research, 2014).
Google’s algorithm update is an indication of how important mobile search is and will continue to be. Since organic search is an increasingly important factor for paid search success, adding mobile to your omni-channel approach will maximize the synergy of organic and paid search efforts by providing the right results at the right time in the right format.
Make It Easy
In an increasingly competitive space, converting customers begins with making your mobile experience completely frictionless. This means implementing responsive web design, which sizes the page, images and text to suit the device the consumer is using to access your site. Your mobile site needs to be easy to navigate using just the touchscreen; built with lightweight pages and limited graphics; and optimized for the most popular mobile devices and platforms.
You may also want to consider a mobile app. Google has announced that it will use information from indexed apps as a ranking factor for users who have the app installed. As a result, the SERPs may now feature content from indexed apps more prominently. For many brands, an app is a preferred option because it’s easier to control the content that consumers see on the screen and apps drive engagement since they reside on the devices that consumers carry with them.
Here’s what you should do next:
1. Take the Test
Find out if your site is mobile-friendly using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. This gives a verdict whether or not a page is mobile-friendly, how it looks on a phone, and suggestions for how to make it page mobile-friendly.
2. Get Informed
Geary LSF has lots of resources for marketers and webmasters alike. Matt Fellows’ blog post “Our Big Mobile-Friendly POV on Google’s Upcoming Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update” describes what you should know and what you can do to respond to the new algorithm.
3. Decide What Mobile Means
While every business should be planning on making its site mobile-friendly, for some brands this is more critical than for others. Find out what percent of your traffic is from mobile, both in total and from organic search. That will help you prioritize how quickly you need to move toward mobile. If you’re getting a high percentage of mobile traffic via organic search, you may be at risk of losing those visitors as of April 21 if you aren’t mobile-friendly.
4. Know Your Customers
Knowing how many visitors are mobile and who those visitors is key. Young, affluent consumers are using mobile devices at a higher rate than others.
Mobile-friendly websites are a necessity for any business targeting teens.
According to Nielsen, 80 percent of U.S. teens 14 to 17 own smartphones and more than 90 percent of them use them to watch videos and search the web online.