Be mobile-friendly or be invisible: That was the message from Google’s Webmaster blog in February. Normally Google doesn’t announce updates to their algorithm, but because this change was so severe, they decided to give brands a few months to prepare.
According to a post on the Google Webmaster Central blog, “Starting April 21, [Google] will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” As a result, brands unable to pass Google’s mobile-friendly criteria will see a severe hit in their search engine traffic. Those in the industry have dubbed the update “Mobilegeddon”. If you haven’t already, you might want to test your website now using the Google Developers Mobile-Friendly Test. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
Why did Google change their algorithm to penalize non-mobile friendly websites? 60% of all consumer Internet traffic is now from mobile devices. As a result, Google decided to make a major overhaul to their search algorithm to filter out sites that might not display or function properly on a smaller screen. Consumers want to use mobile devices to not only get information, but also to find things near us and quickly navigate to them. Mobile “Near Me” searches have doubled the last 12-months.
Most companies who had not yet addressed “mobile” are likely still not addressing it and may not have felt the impact yet. But there’s no turning back. The changes have already begun. Over the next few weeks, the online community will be bracing themselves for the Mobilegeddon aftermath and closely analyzing their web traffic.
There’s no magic solution to make your website “Mobilegeddon proof”, but here are some tips on how to create a better mobile experience for your customers and users:
How is your site serving pages to mobile users? From a technical standpoint, Google is looking for one or more of the following delivery solutions for a site to be considered “mobile-friendly”:
- Responsive Design:
A site with a responsive design will look and function the same on any device. This is the most affordable solution and the most popular.
- Dynamic Serving:
If you want a completely different experience for your mobile and tablet users, but not have to redirect them to a different URL, then you should try dynamic serving. It’s both search engine friendly and makes a seamless user experience.
- Mobile Site:
Another option is to create a completely separate domain for your mobile users (usually m.domain or domain.mobile). This solution was more common several years ago but is quickly falling out of favor.
But even if your site is using one of these methods for mobile, there’s still no guarantee it will make the cut. A variety of other factors come into play. Keep reading…
- Mobile Content
Desktop and mobile users should be shown completely different content. A mobile user doesn’t need to see everything. The smaller screen makes it harder to scroll, especially horizontally. Leave out things from your mobile experience like sidebar content or every element of a 4-column footer. Also trim your forms down. Expecting a mobile user to fill out a 20+ field form on a mobile device while they are walking through an airport is unrealistic. Give your mobile users just enough info to get in, get what content they want and get out. Anything more could just push them away to a competitor with a better content experience.
- Redirection Issues
What happens when a mobile user tries to access a specific page on your website that they got from a link via an email newsletter or a tweet? Are they taken to a mobile version of that content or are they just redirected to a generic mobile homepage where they have to search again for the content they were originally looking for? If your answer is the latter, then you will have a Mobilegeddon issue. Sending all mobile traffic to your mobile homepage is a bad user experience and something you will be penalized for doing.
- Calls To Action
Does the content on your site have specific calls to action? If you’re not encouraging your mobile visitors to buy, sign up or take some kind of meaningful action with your brand, then you are not only missing out on potential business but also hurting your mobile user experience. According to a study conducted by iAcquire and SurveyMonkey, 70% of mobile leads to some sort of action within one-hour.
Another fatal mistake brands make with their mobile websites is designing poor mobile experiences. How many times have you frustratingly tried to tap on a tiny button or link on a bad mobile website or accidentally opened an ad? Even if your site technically loads properly on mobile devices, if it’s not designed to be mobile-friendly with large buttons, easy to fill out forms and properly integrated mobile advertisements, then you could be flagged by Google.
- Mobile Locators
One of the biggest mistakes retail marketers make is focusing on gaining web traffic, Facebook likes or Twitter mentions and not driving foot traffic to stores. Don’t get me wrong, growing your brand’s social media presence, or boosting web traffic, has significant value. But, it’s often difficult to show a direct connection between your online efforts and retail foot traffic. Online brands have a much easier time measuring the conversion of web traffic into paying customers. Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and restaurants have a much harder time turning driving online users into physical visitors and measuring the full experience
One tactic being executed by savvy brands that want more foot traffic is a mobile locator capable of converting a mobile experience into a retail visit. Mobile locators can display a “where to buy” link to a list of stores or restaurants and help. users quickly navigate to that location. When a user searches for your brand, product or service, a mobile locator can make sure they know the closest location based on their geo-location. If you want to learn more about driving foot traffic using mobile, then download PlaceCodes’ free white paper here. PlaceCodes can provide a turn-key mobile-friendly product locator solution with the ability to embed target messages and offers
Mobilegeddon has taught us all one very important thing: we are all mobile marketers now. As of April 22, 2015, there’s no turning back. The good news is that Mobilegeddon might actually be an opportunity to gain some ground against your competitors. Hopefully the tips in this article were helpful.
How has Mobilegeddon impacted your brand’s organic search traffic? Please tell us in the comments below.