Changes are coming to how search engine giant Google will be ranking websites. As mobile devices overtake the desktop as the most common way people surf the Internet, organizations need to pay close attention to mobile users.
Google recently announced that it will be adjusting its search engine algorithm to rank mobile-friendly websites significantly higher, effective April 21. Especially if your business relies on mobile traffic to generate leads, you’ll want to make sure that your website is ready for the algorithm change. If you don’t, you can expect to see a steep decline in organic traffic as your site rankings plummet, especially in mobile searches.
Why is Mobile Web Design Important?
Mobile web design plays a significant role in online business for a number of reasons. Google, now more than ever, considers good mobile design a crucial aspect of search engine optimization or SEO. If your website was designed years ago, before the widespread usage of smartphones and tablets, it probably wasn’t built with mobile devices in mind. Most websites in this situation don’t give a great user experience, take a long time to load, and were not built with things like touch-elements in mind.
Mobile design improves a site’s value because designers develop the user experience or UX with the tiny screens of smartphones and tablets in mind. For example, people often use one hand to hold their smartphone and navigate with their thumb. If the site won’t let them do that, they’ll have to stop and use two hands. Likewise, if the text is hard to read or if graphical elements get in the way of navigation features, the site is essentially useless to a mobile user.
Potential customers who are fed up with a slowly loading site that isn’t responsive to the taps on their touch-sensitive display will give up and visit a competitor’s site. Since Google prizes speed and usefulness, it will rank mobile-friendly sites much higher than poorly designed, slow-loading sites.
How to Tell if Your Site is Mobile-Friendly
The easiest way to see how mobile-friendly your site is a common sense approach: Visit your website using a few different mobile devices or simply adjust the size of the window you are using to view your website – how easy or difficult it is to use?
For more precise information, you can use webmaster tools such as Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page.
Which method of mobile design is right for my website?
Visit our post on Responsive vs Adaptive web design for more information on how to best develop your website for mobile.
What if Most of my Traffic Doesn’t Come From Mobile?
Even if you’ve determined that you get the majority of your traffic from desktop users, you need to assume that the vast majority of people coming to your website from mobile are first time users. These users are also much more likely to convert to a phone call or contact form. Even in B2B industries where most traffic still comes from desktop, assume that the trend of the last 5 years will eventually continue in this arena.
What if an executive began checking out your website while at the office, but then wants to continue looking through your case studies or service offerings while in route to the airport (let’s hope in this situation he or she has a driver). If your website is frustrating to navigate through from the executive’s phone there is a very good chance that the information search will stop there, you could lose an important new client. Also, why give your competitors the edge? Their mobile-friendly sites will steal your potential customers without you even knowing about it.
So to wrap this up, Mobile First Design = Online Success