The Importance of Mobile-Friendly Websites
More than ever, the name of the game in the digital world is “mobile.” Consumers are shopping, planning trips, researching, and more, all on their cellphones, but many companies have not prepared themselves for the change that has already occurred. Research shows that 29% of the top 500 retail companies and nearly 50% of the Fortune 500 do not have mobile-friendly websites, even though 60% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices. The slow movement of these behemoths makes it all the more important for other businesses to optimize their mobile offerings and provide the digital experience that consumers are looking for.
What is mobile-friendly?
In the old days, you knew that your customer would be viewing your website on a computer. Today, your site may be viewed on any number of devices, from iPhones to tablets, and your consumers expect to be able to have the same information and the same quality experience no matter how they access your website. Though in the infancy of the mobile web many companies created a separate mobile version of their websites, the current standard is to build a “responsive” site; that is, one that responds automatically to different screen sizes, presenting the same information and elements in a configuration that suits the device.
How your mobile site affects your SEO
Two of the factors Google considers when indexing a website can be greatly impacted by the mobile friendliness of your website. First is “bounce rate.” The bounce rate represents the visitors who arrived at your website and did not click any of your internal links. They “bounced” from your site without interacting with it, most likely because they did not find the information they were looking for or because your site was not easily accessible on mobile. A high bounce rate will lower your page rank, affecting where your site appears in search.
The second related factor is “click backs.” This is exactly what it sounds like: the number of users who landed on your site, then clicked the “back” button to return to the search results. Google tracks how long it takes for users to click “back” from your site, which is not likely to be very long if your site does not display properly on mobile. A short amount of time on the site tells the search engine that your page was not useful. That certainly is not what you want!
In April 2015, Google implemented changes to its algorithm that placed significantly more importance on “mobile friendly” as a ranking factor for mobile browsers. That is, if a consumer is searching on their phone, Google will display sites that have been indexed as “mobile friendly” first in order to deliver the best possible content. Though the algorithm did not affect the results displayed in desktop search, it is important to remember the statistic listed above: 60% of all internet traffic comes from a mobile device, and that number is only growing. The more that web traffic transitions to mobile, the more Google is likely to optimize search results to favor mobile friendly websites.
When businesses are jockeying for a few top placements and dropping off the first page of results seems akin to dropping off the face of the earth, anything you can do to give your website the edge is worth doing. “M-Day,” as some doomsday-minded digital marketers referred to it, was not exactly the apocalypse that some sites feared, but it was a definite line in the sand. There was no turning back from this, and mobile-friendly sites would continue to be selected over those that were not.
Increase Search Ranking With Mobile Friendly Site
Tablets, phones, smartwatches and other wearable technologies are not going away. In fact, with the rise of “smart” home appliances, cars, and more, who knows what format your consumers will be viewing your website in next? Your website needs to be mobile-friendly in order to compete in an increasingly mobile digital marketplace.
The businesses that are unable to adapt to this new era of the web will be left behind as those more prepared take their place. The time for consideration has, frankly, passed. It is in your best interests to update your website as soon as possible and create a mobile-friendly website that will serve your current customers and help you reach new customers with an improved browsing experience and higher search ranking.