The Meteoric Rise Of Mobile
Are you reading this article on a mobile device? There’s a 20% chance you have this post up on your tablet or phone. Did you come to this site directly (not through a link or through search)? Then there is a 30% chance you are on mobile device. Did you click to this article from Social Media? 50% chance.
Mobile traffic for the Edge Multimedia website has been growing steadily for the past few years, and we are not alone. Many of our clients are seeing their mobile traffic numbers skyrocket, with many seeing more traffic from phones and tablets than from desktop computers.
Mobile search is growing too, with many sources claiming at least 1 in 4 organic searches are being conducted on a mobile device and many believe that Mobile will outpace desktop searches this year. That is huge, and it's a trend that is unlikely to reverse.
Phones and tablets are taking over the internet. Your business website can either adapt to this new trend or become an internet dinosaur dug up only by internet archeologists for a good laugh.
The Mobile Searcher
Who are these mobile searchers who are changing the web and how your websites are designed, forcing your business to change to suit their needs? The majority are young people ages 18-29 who are using their phones mostly to browse the internet. They are known to quickly bounce from, and be loathe to return to, a website that doesn’t play well with their mobile device of choice.
These are your new customers who currently make up a significant portion of your market, and will continue to grow into the majority of your audience on the internet for the foreseeable future. Ask anyone in that demographic and they’ll tell you, they’re going to live forever, so you better have a website that makes them happy.
As our resident web developer Gavin wrote about last month, being mobile friendly is now the main priority when designing a website. If that’s not your priority, you are going to lose a substantial amount of traffic sooner than you realize.
Google’s Stance On Mobile Sites
Recently Google has hopped on the mobile-friendly website train in a big way. Searches now show when a site is mobile friendly. You may have noticed this new results format while using Google.
If you do not have a mobile ready website, prepare to see your rankings slip in Google SERP.
On top of that, Google released a post on their WebMaster Central blog discussing some new changes in store for Mobile Search. Stating two things
More mobile-friendly sites in their search results
More Relevant App Content in Search Results
Basically this all boils down to: “If you do not have a mobile-ready website, prepare to see your rankings slip in Google SERP.”
If you have been investing time and money into your site to help it rank well in the competitive world of Organic Search, you are risking losing a good portion of that investment if you do not have a mobile-ready site. That is an enormous loss.
On April 21st, Google made these changes to their mobile search results. Every since this date that there is no mobile-friendly version of your site is another day that you lose out on a demographic of searchers who are on their way to becoming an overwhelming majority.
Figuring Out If Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly
This new change might sound scary and the definition of what constitutes mobile friendly and what doesn’t may seem a bit esoteric. Fortunately there are several methods for determining if your site is ready for the new mobile searcher empire.
Notifications from Google
One method is to just let Google tell you what they think. If you have a Webmaster account (which you should, if you don’t, please go set that up right now) you may have received an email from Google titled “Fix mobile usability issues found on [your site here]." This is Google straight up telling you that your site has a problem when it comes to mobile and will help outline ways to fix it. This is pretty awesome and is advice that is well worth taking.
Google Mobile-Friendly Test
In addition to the email notifications sent out by Webmaster, Google has also set up a Mobile-friendly test page.
This site could not be simpler, just plug in a web page URL into the input box and hit analyze and Google will tell you whether the page is mobile-friendly and what you can do to fix it. The instructions are clear and easy and will help ensure your site does not draw Google’s ire for not being mobile-ready.
Finally, one of the best ways tell if your site is mobile-friendly is to look at your own traffic in google analytics or other web analytics software split by Desktop and Mobile and compare the two devices.
I have three categories in which you can place your site depending on how well it performs for Mobile.
- Mobile Friendly
This category should be familiar. The site is well optimized for mobile.
- Mobile Acquainted
The site is on okay terms with mobile but the relationship is a bit cold.
- Mobile Enemy
The site may not even know what a mobile device is. This is a mouse and keyboard only kind of place.
Your analytics data will determine in which category your site falls. I will go through the three categories and what kind of data will put you into which.
When you compare the traffic for sites like these between desktop and mobile, the differences are profound. Mobile users Bounce at a much higher rate (we have seen anywhere from +10 to +40%) and spend far less time on the site. Those on Mobile will rarely if ever convert and retainment of these users is very low.
Mobile traffic for sites such as these show more promise than Mobile Enemy, but usually have some deficiencies that a truly mobile-friendly site would not. Bounce Rates are often much lower and are closer to that of Desktop, there are more return Mobile users to the site due to it not being a total pain to use while on a phone. However, deficiencies can be found in the conversion data and you'll often see lower Goal Conversion Rates when comparing Mobile to Desktop.
In the analytics for a mobile-friendly site there should be very little difference in performance when it comes to comparing Desktop and Mobile. In fact, Mobile will even outperform desktop in some or all categories.
Beyond just making Google happy, or having a site that checks off a list of technical specifications for mobile, you have to ensure that mobile users are provided a user experience that allows them to interact with your brand on any device in a positive manner. In this way, you will enable your growing mobile audience to convert more of the business goals you have established for your site. This means happier mobile users, better metrics, more leads and a stronger business at the end of the day.