Many people are now aware that Google ranks websites that are poorly designed for viewing on a smartphone lower than those that perform well. This makes total sense if you recognise that they are trying to reward the user with the best experience when they list websites against the search term you entered. If you are skeptical just hook up your Google Webmaster account to your website and pretty soon you will start receiving messages from them telling you what they don’t like.
This inclusion of “mobile friendliness” as a web-ranking signal happened around a year ago now so it’s surprising how many people have done nothing about it. Typically sites that haven’t been optimised for smartphones have non-responsive layouts so either overlap the screen size badly or squeeze everything into the viewing window so the text is microscopically small. They can also be over complicated in their design for a small screen and appear cluttered and hard to navigate.
Speed is another crucial factor
Even if your site looks wonderful, if it loads too slowly, then people will leave. A recent article on the Think with Google blog reports that 29% of visitors will switch immediately if they can’t find what they are looking for right away. You can use tools such as GTMetrix to measure how your site is doing. This measures both Google’s Pagespeed ranking and Yahoo’s Yslow score.
Why bother with a mobile friendly site?
We are not going to name and shame anyone here but we do recommend you grab your phone and search for your own site and see how it looks right now.
Most statistics show that many sites now receive more than 50% of their traffic from either a smartphone or a tablet. Certain businesses, such as those in retail or hospitality, may be receiving more than 80% of their traffic this way. Turning away over half your traffic with a poorly designed mobile site pretty much kills your digital strategy. Also consider how important local search is for those shoppers and restaurant goers who are walking around using their phones to guide them and you can see how an optimised site can help bring them your way.
It shouldn’t cost the earth
Depending on how complicated your existing site is, updating it for mobile use doesn’t have to be expensive. Yes it will be a major budget cost for anyone, but for the majority of sites we look at there is no reason why it can’t be done for a reasonable price. We would be happy to advise on this if you think you have a need.
Similarly speeding up a standard website, so it loads faster, is usually possible with a number of relatively straightforward technical changes. Again, if you think you have an issue we would be happy to run some tests for you and let you know if we think you have a site issue.
This isn’t going away
We’re pretty sure smartphone usage isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, so if you haven’t taken any steps to fix this yet, you really need to start now. It’s probably the single most important action you can take to boost your marketing effectiveness and should pay for itself in less than 12 months with improved traffic and conversions.