Yes, you really do need a mobile-friendly website
In a previous blog, I’ve talked about user experience when viewing websites from mobile devices. Now it seems there’s another reason to make your website mobile-friendly – your presence in Google search results could suffer if you don’t. For some time, there have been suggestions that websites which can’t be viewed and used effectively on a mobile device might not display as well in the mobile search results.
An announcement from Google, 18th November 2014 now makes this a reality. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you will probably start to see your mobile traffic start to drop.
The official Google Webmaster central blog announced 18th November 2014 says:
“Starting today, to make it easier for people to find the information that they’re looking for, we’re adding a “mobile-friendly” label to our mobile search results.”
This is what it looks like (the yellow highlight is mine) for one of our clients, fastenright.com:
What proportion of your website visitors use mobile devices?
How to find out? If you don’t already have it, install Google Analytics. You can view all of your website traffic there, and if you look at Audience / Mobile / Overview, you’ll see something like this
Which breaks down the traffic into desktop, tablet and mobile.
The % of site visits from mobile devices continues to increase, and for some of our clients, approximately 50% of all site visits are from mobile devices. Your business may be different, but surely anything over 10% has to be significant to you, as any customers or prospects who don’t get the right experience when using your website could decide to go elsewhere.
Have you checked your website on a mobile phone?
How easy is it to use your website on a mobile phone? Websites designed for use on desk top PCs tend to have some usability problems on mobile devices, for example:
- Text too small to read unless your device enables you to enlarge it
- If you do enlarge the text, you probably need to scroll from left to right as well as up and down, to read it
- Menu buttons may be too small for average sized fingers to select accurately
- Menu structures and page layouts may be hard to follow
- Your website may use “flash” or other technologies which don’t display on all mobile devices
Google has a mobile-friendly test tool, which you can access here but if in doubt, we recommend that you try accessing your website yourself on a range of different mobile devices and see what you think.
Potential for loss of traffic and a drop in rankings
As mobile users start to see the “mobile friendly” labels appearing in the mobile search results (SERPS), they are more likely to click on the labelled listings. If your site doesn’t have one, you could start to see a drop in your website traffic, even if your website still appears in the Search Results listings.
There is another implication though, in that one of the signals Google looks for in determining organic search rankings is the click through rate from your listing. So if your site isn’t labelled as mobile friendly, it will get fewer clicks, and this in turn could affect your ranking, so you will appear lower down the list and therefore receive even fewer visits from mobile devices.
Update 20th November – Google has now added another comment “We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.” So it does look as though having a mobile-friendly website will be important for good ranking in the mobile SERPs in future.
How to get mobile friendly – quickly
The advice we give to most business is to have their website rebuilt using a responsive design and mobile friendly technology (there’s more information about this on my previous blog). A responsive site will display correctly on all types of mobile device. We’d usually estimate about 4-6 weeks to complete and launch a new responsive website, depending on any specific requirements.
Alternatively, you could opt for a separate mobile version of your website and it is usually possible to create a mobile version of your current site quite quickly, in a matter of days.
For an assessment of your current website, or assistance in creating a mobile-friendly web presence, just give us a call and we can help you to make the right decision for your business.