As marketers, our lives revolve around our consumer. Customer engagement is a vital part of any business today, especially when it comes to online marketing. Consumer engagement, usability and ultimately, their experience with our brands online, is a crucial part of the existence and sustainability of any business. So having said that, if your site still isn’t mobile-friendly, what are you doing wrong?
The customer experience has changed and due to their changing usage patterns and faster internet speeds available, mobile devices have virtually replaced the PC as a hub for search activity. This really isn’t new and has become common knowledge for any seasoned marketer. According to Luigi Ferguson, SEO director at Ansira, smartphone usage has gone up 500% in the last five years. In the US, usage went from 10% in 2009 to now over 80% in 2016.”
This explains why in April of 2015, Google began to change the value it placed on optimized mobile experience. It also began the process of de-emphasizing sites that weren’t optimized for mobile. Last year, we talked extensively about the Current State of Mobile SEO and the changes that were coming. We surveyed nearly 300 digital marketers on whether or not they were ready for Google’s change. We also examined data from the web presences we track in gShift to identify traffic trends around mobile.
In comparing the data for 2015 to 2016, we can see there hasn’t been a huge increase. This is likely due to the fact that mobile usage by consumers has reached a peak and will now start to plateau a bit. Our 2014 data showed the year rounding out with 21% of traffic from mobile devices leading into January 2015. This data was collected from the more than 6,000 web presences tracked in the gShift platform. Pulling the same data for 2015 showed an initial decline in the first quarter, but with the overall average holding steady at 26%.
The switch in Google’s algorithms to mobile-friendliness wasn’t as catastrophic as initially anticipated. For most marketers, who were prudent and listened to the warnings being sent out, the change really didn’t have much of an impact. Even if your site wasn’t mobile friendly, there was little change to the desktop version of a non-mobile friendly site. However, there was a significant switch to the mobile visibility of those sites. It was still possible to rank, however, if your site wasn’t optimized for mobile. Non-mobile friendly sites could still rank as long as they had great relevant content.
Remember, it’s all about the user intent and their engagement with your brand. If your customer is trying to reach you on their mobile device and the experience is too difficult, they’ll leave and won’t come back. Can you blame them? We live in a world driven by the consumer; it’s no longer about the brand.
That was then, and this is now. Recently, Google has started to give to new notice; as of the first of May 2016, Google will be emphasizing mobile design and will be increasing its mobile friendly rankings (mobile-friendliness). This means the gloves are coming off, and sites that are not mobile-friendly will now lose even more of their organic ranking.
Google has reassured us, however, that this update will only affect those who are not mobile friendly. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly though, you’re in danger of being impacted in a very significant way.
If a mobile-friendlier site is still sitting on your to-do list, here are a few tips to help you get started.
- Work on the speed of your site. Speed impacts the users experience and therefore is imperative on a mobile device when users are in an on-the-go mode. Even if you can shave a few milliseconds off your site load time, it can have a positive impact. There are applications such as Google’s PageSpeed Tools, which can help determine the speed of your site.
- One of the greatest ways to improve your organic search is to work on creating quality and relevant content. Creating content isn’t new; however, ensuring it is optimized for a mobile screen is critical. Again, it’s all about the users experience and what’s in it for them when they come to your site and engage with your brand.
- Site hygiene is another critical step for search optimization. Make sure there are no coding problems, duplicate content or dead-ends. If you’d like to learn more about site maintenance, please visit our 3 part blog series on the importance of a regular Website SEO Audit.
- Lastly, keep an eye on your sites analytics. This will help you determine what’s working and what’s not. Analytics, either through Google or another SAAS platform will give you valuable insight to ensure that you don’t lose any valuable traffic that is coming to your website; before and after Google makes changes to its algorithms. Be sure to segment your data and see what percentage of your customer base is coming from mobile and what percent of them are coming from a desktop. Having a mobile friendly site is critical to your survival in Google, but it’s more important in some industry and less important in others. Make sure you understand who your customer is, their needs and where they are most likely to engage with you online.
Bottom line, even if mobile traffic is not a large part of your audience, continuing to optimize your site for mobile devices ensures greater discoverability, across all points of contact you potential customers may be using. As Google continues to roll out the waves of Mobilegeddon, you will want to find yourself on the future-facing side of change.