If a potential customer stepped up to the door of your business, even stepped inside the door, with an expression of interest in what you have to offer, what would you do?
At the moment not having your web-site enabled for mobile phones is the equivalent to ignoring that potential customer, not answering any query they might have until they get fed up and eventually leave. I would imagine, outside of the virtual world, you would consider that an intolerable situation. Once Google are finished with you, the customer won’t even find your door.
Now, I don’t want to make Google out to be the bad guys here. The truth is that the market has dictated this. It’s estimated that during 2015, mobile internet searches will out-number desktop searches. The consumers have been telling us that this is what they want. Google are just giving us the final nudge.
Let me explain.
I don’t need to espouse the importance of a web presence. Any business on the planet knows the visibility it gives and how important that is. A lot of businesses have invested heavily in Search Engine Optimisation, making sure they are on that coveted first results page on Google. That takes a lot of planning and design and time. But, as is the nature of the technological world we live in, it’s moving on. What now? I hear you ask. Well, Smart phones are as common place as a set of keys in your pocket/purse and Google have long recognised that the numbers of users browsing the internet on their smart phones is steadily increasing. But, the screen is smaller.
When we first got our smart phones we couldn’t believe all that we could access on it. We were fascinated by being able to turn the phone sideways and have a landscape view, enlarging the text and moving the screen across to read the end of a sentence or see the whole of a picture. But no more. We want the information in a list so we can just scroll down. We don’t want to be accidentally clicking the wrong link because they are too close to each other or the text is too small. We don’t want to be resizing images. Not only that, we want to be able to do it with one hand. The consumer is very unforgiving as he/she is exposed to faster and easier. At this stage we know that there are sites that are easier to navigate on a phone sized screen, so we move on very quickly if the site is not mobile enabled. Google doesn’t want us to do that. They want the consumer to be able to see the sites they choose without frustration.
So, here’s the push!
Being called “mobilegeddon” by internet observers, on the 21st April, Google will be releasing an algorithm worldwide which will influence the results of Google searches on the basis of mobile optimisation, or lack of “responsiveness.” In other words, if your web-site is not optimised for a mobile device (basically a smaller screen) a person searching on the internet might not see your site from a phone. Even if you have worked very hard on your SEO, without this mobile responsiveness, you will likely begin to drop off the results pages when being searched from a mobile device.
So, currently, without mobile optimisation you are ignoring (by not being responsive) almost 50% of customers who visit your site. After April 21st, that 50% won’t have found you at all.
Here’s the good news! If you haven’t done so already, you have an opportunity to get ahead of the game. A recent study found that only 46 per cent of firms in Ireland have a site optimised for mobile devices. (Connected’s survey of Irish retail and professional services) So, if you address this soon, you have a chance to greatly influence your SEO, and thereby access even more customers.
Here’s the other bit of good news. It’s not that hard to fix. Firstly, you can see for yourself how your site ranks in Google. Google have very generously given us a tool; https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ – just key in your URL and see how your site rates. If your site fails the mobile friendly test, Google will then tell you why, so you know what to fix. If you do not have the expertise in house, at least you know what you are talking about when you out-source the work.
Sometimes you can simply increase the responsiveness (yes, that’s the buzz word) of your site by having it re-size and re-organise itself when being accessed from a mobile device, leaving it all bells and whistles for the desktop user. For some sites, it makes more sense to create a separate site completely, linked to the full site but which takes over when accessed from a mobile device. For others, who have avoided updating the company web-site for far too long, a full rebuild might be in order. Either way, it’s time to take a look at your site and what it says about you and your business.
Here at BITS we have a web development department and are happy to advise you. If you would like a chat about your own site or any advice on which direction to go, please don’t hesitate to contact us.