With 58% of the British population being a mobile internet user, soon more people will be visiting your site via a phone than a desktop. That’s a big statement, considering no more than a decade ago, all they were good for was playing snake. But the steady realisation is that, given the usage of smart phones, we all need to adapt, and having a mobile friendly website is near essential if you want don’t want to be left behind the pack. Numbers are suggesting that almost half a websites traffic comes from a mobile device, and that number is steadily rising. The people have spoken and it’s also been reported that 57% of consumers say they will not recommend a company with a website that looks bad on a mobile phone. Yep, it’s that important.
A ‘mobile friendly’ site means it will be responsive when you are navigating through it. It needs to be coded and constructed properly to adapt to the size of your device. How often do you visit a site on your phone and you’re scrolling, squinting, dragging and having a full on David vs Goliath battle to find the information you want? Far too often? A responsive website bats these glitches straight out the park. Whether you are on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone, all of your website content should be delivered in a strategically designed layout that has thoughtful functionality for how it will be viewed on each of these separate devices. The numbers speak for themselves and are not to be taken lightly: 63% of people used a mobile device for their searches last year alone, but you have plenty more reasons as to why you should embrace mobile friendliness.
As well as expecting convenience, i.e the world at our fingertips, we expect it fast. If we don’t get what we want quickly, we move on. Let’s be honest, we have all abandoned a search because it took too long, and rightfully so. Who wants to stare at loading screens all day? Then there is the obvious, a mobile friendly interface will increase traffic to your website. With smartphones now considered a necessity rather than a luxury, and with such high numbers using their phones online, logic politely suggests more people will go on your website if its mobile friendly. Next is engagement; we are living in an interactive age, and just providing information isn’t enough anymore. Businesses have revolutionised the way they communicate with their customers by, well, actually talking to them. Online only retailers report that customer engagement is increased by 85% with a mobile site. The user experience is paramount, and with platforms like social media encouraging us to network and engage with one another, there is no reason to not be connected, and our phones are now the most convenient way to do it.
On 21st April 2015, Google implemented a new algorithm update which will see significant changes to the ranking of websites on mobile searches, depending on how mobile friendly that site is. 3 days have passed and Google have definitely changed the game for everybody playing. They have officially added, “Mobile friendliness” to the already lengthy list of 200 or so factors in its search criteria, a change that they warned us would be coming. The early warning gave everybody affected ample time to prepare for what could prove to be a revolutionary update. What does this mean? Well, if pages aren’t user friendly on mobile devices, i.e: the font is unreadable, the page doesn’t view correctly and nothing fits on the screen properly, the sites Google ranking will plummet faster than you can yell GERONIMO….
Google have been keeping an all-mighty eye on us all, sending out notifications to the unlucky ones who fail to meet their new mobile friendly standards. They have been promptly warned that any pages, (in many cases, entire sites) that are not mobile friendly will be “displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users” in search results. Yikes. The message is loud and clear, if you want your site to be accessible, and actively used by as many people as possible, you need to make sure mobile friendliness is your focus. With panic setting, many people are asking themselves, how do we know if we are mobile friendly? Well for a start you can check if your website has the mobile friendly label in the mobile search results and then by using the mobile friendly testing tool to see if you pass the test. Considering the clear benefits of being mobile friendly, it is still massively underutilised, and that really has me scratching my head. Webmasters need to understand the benefits of being mobile friendly, because if they did they would be jumping over backwards to ensure they were maximising its potential. However big this update proves to be, Google’s push towards a mobile friendly design, and their public stance on the issue signal that mobile friendly sites will have an advantage over time. It’s like getting a tip on a horse from the bookies themselves, you wouldn’t bet against them would you?
With mobile searches increasing at 10x the rate of desktop, it’s obvious we are a breed that wants all the answers in the very palm of our hands. And now businesses are set to lose up to 1/3 of their traffic if they don’t embrace the evolution of this digital age. Businesses would be doing themselves good if they are up to date with the new algorithm, because consumers have the propensity to abandon a brand if they are struggling to look at their product, make purchases or engage. The mobile eCommerce opportunities are colossal and the new algorithm will now make it even more competitive. So what I’d suggest is embrace the changes and adapt or watch yourself slowly lag behind the rest.