A Mobile Responsive Website is Essential
When we chat with clients we emphasize that a mobile-friendly website is essential to having a successful online presence. In fact, for the last couple years, we’ve just made mobile responsiveness a mandatory feature of each new website we design and develop.
We’ve done this for some time knowing that 94% of people with smartphones in the U.S. search for local information and businesses on their phones.
And last year (mid 2014), mobile usage as a whole crossed the tipping point and became more popular than going online with desktop or laptop – Users now spend over 60% of their time online using a mobile device, while desktop-based digital media consumption makes up the remaining 40%.
Have a Mobile Responsive Website or Become Irrelevant
In late February of this year (2015) Google announced that it is expanding on mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. They specifically stated, “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”
Now this announcement is a fairly big deal because Google doesn’t typically announce algorithm changes using phrases like “significant impact,” and they usually don’t give an exact date for when an algorithm change will take affect.
So, why did Google make this announcement, and what does it mean?
Google and the March Toward Mobile Responsiveness
Google has been making a strong push to encourage website owners to make their sites mobile-friendly.
- They added “mobile-friendly” labels to the mobile search results.
- They sent website owners mobile usability warning notifications via Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).
- They launched a mobile-friendly testing tool.
- They also added a mobile usability report in GWT.
They’ve been beating this drum about mobile responsiveness for a while now in response to our (consumers) changing online behavior. After all, Google’s job is to provide the best and most relevant results to our searches.
To do so, the content has to match what we’re seeking, it needs to be authoritative, and it needs to be user-friendly. If we’re browsing on a smartphone and jump from Google to a website that’s not mobile-friendly and hard to read, we’ll become frustrated with that site.
If this becomes a recurring issue when we search, we’ll eventually get fed up with Google and maybe take our queries elsewhere. Google wants to continue to dominate search on mobile like it has on desktops/laptops for the past ~decade … their existence (revenue) depends on it.
So, the folks at Google are no dummies, they’re just adapting to a trend, a trend they’ve been monitoring for some time.
A Very Important Trend in Mobile Search
Back in 2013, Google produced a mobile path to purchase report that surveyed 950 U.S. consumers to assess how “we” research purchases via mobile devices. A key finding in the report is the starting point for mobile research – 48% of users start with search [engines] when researching purchases via mobile devices.
That’s a pretty significant percentage with decent competition from other search engines, social media and mobile apps.
Mobile Devices are also Changing User Behavior Online
Unlike sitting in front of a computer, mobile search is always on, happening on the go, at home and at work. 77% of mobile searches occur at home or at work; 17% on the go. What’s somewhat surprising about this is how many people use mobile search at home and at work (instead of a computer). This basically means, that every business needs a mobile-friendly website, not just businesses that people look for when their out and about – restaurants, bars, etc.
3 of 4 mobile searches trigger follow-up actions, whether it be further research, a store visit, a phone call, a purchase or word-of-mouth sharing. On average, each mobile search triggers nearly 2 follow-up actions. Mobile browsing has a bit more intent wrapped into it, meaning your site needs to be easy to use and provide the user the information they’re looking for so that they can follow-up.
Mobile search triggered follow-up actions also happen very quickly. 55% of conversions (store visit, phone call or purchase) happen within an hour. Mobile users are not only more intent, they’re ready to act. Your website needs to also accommodate their sense of urgency – purchase buttons and contact information needs to be easy to find.
Mobile Responsive Website Design Is The Way To Go
Google has long recommended responsive design as its preferred mobile solution, because it believes responsive design provides a better user-experience and because it’s less prone to errors than dedicated mobile sites. This direction may also mean that responsive websites will be given preference in Google Search over dedicated mobile sites.
We’ve designed all our clients sites as mobile responsive and not with a dedicated mobile-friendly site … and we will continue to do so because we know it provides a better user experience across all devices. Thanks Google for potentially rewarding our clients!
What If You’re Website Still Isn’t Mobile-Friendly?
If you’re an Ella J Designs’ client we built your site to be mobile responsive, and if you were an early client (before mobile-friendly was becoming important), we’ve already converted MOST of you. There are still a few lingerers, and we’ve contacted you about this.
But if you’re not a client and unsure if your site is mobile-friendly, use Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool to find out where your website stands. It will never be too late to make the change. If you miss the April 21st date, you’ll most likely feel the affects at that time, but once your site becomes mobile responsive, things will go back to normal, and maybe even improve.
Still Need a Mobile Responsive Website?
Contact Us, we’ll be happy to help.