It's no secret that the use of mobile devices is wildly popular. Think about it: On what device are you reading this post? Your phone? Your tablet? Are you reading this from your desktop or laptop only because you're at work and already sitting in front of it? You're definitely not alone. Mobile usage continues to steadily increase with more than half of Google searches sent via mobile devices.
The modern user + mobile optimization = sales
Having (or not having) a mobile-optimized site can significantly impact the engagement level of a visitor—and, in turn, your sales. Today, 37 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a company with a mobile-optimized site, and by 2017 a quarter of revenue is projected to come from mobile commerce.
If those reasons alone don't convince you to make your site mobile-friendly, then Google's latest algorithm update will. On April 21, Google will begin implementing mobile-friendly compliance as a ranking factor in smartphone searches. What does this mean for your traffic and your business?
Mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor
For years, mobile usability has been a factor in Google's search algorithm. In other words, sites optimized for mobile devices were more likely to rank higher in search engine results and would also display a "mobile-friendly" tag on devices. But until now the parameters have been both limited and ambiguous, and they haven't provided too much of an advantage for sites that were optimized.
Although the ranking-factor specifics won't be revealed until the update on April 21, the change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a "significant impact" in Google search results. The update will allow users to find relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices more easily.
The latest ranking factor will only impact mobile search results, but it's anticipated to have a larger impact than Google's Panda and Penguin updates, according to Zineb Ait Bahajji from the Google Webmaster Trends team. And as I mentioned before, more and more users are turning to mobile as a reliable shopping resource. You definitely don't want to alienate a user simply because your mobile navigation is clunky and not user-friendly.
Don't lose your hard-earned traffic
If your site is already mobile-optimized, you have little to worry about. You may want to dig into your Google Webmasters (discussed below) to make sure your mobile site is optimized to its best potential, but it's likely you will benefit from this algorithm update.
For those who have put mobile optimization on the back burner, now's the time to get cooking. Follow the steps below to get started on your optimization campaign.Estimate traffic lost to nail down a transition timeline
To begin, determine a timeline to make the transition. In other words, find out how much traffic you'll lose once the ranking factor goes into effect before implementing a mobile site. While making your site mobile-friendly is necessary for many companies (and a beneficial long-term investment), there are also a percentage of companies who live in industries that receive less than 30 percent of traffic from mobile devices. Meaning, for those companies it may not be as much of a priority to invest immediately based on the traffic "hit" they'll receive.
Check out this great post from Search Engine Land on estimating your potential traffic lost. Use your estimations to create a timeline for you and your team to optimize your site for mobile. Depending on the results, you could have months rather than weeks. It all depends on what you're willing to lose in order to gain.Utilize Google Webmaster tools
Google graciously offers four tools to help you determine whether your site is mobile-friendly.
- Mobile-Friendly Test: Enter your company URL to analyze and report whether the page has a mobile-friendly design. Some basic mobile criteria Googlebot must detect are:
- Avoid software that is not common on mobile devices, such as Flash
- Uses text that is readable without zooming
- Sizes content to the screen so users don't have to scroll horizontally or zoom
- Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
- Mobile Usability Report: If you are a Webmaster, you can use this tool to examine your website how Google sees it. If the results reflect any errors or discrepancies, you have roughly a month to fix them.
- Webmasters Mobile Guide: Read this comprehensive guide on how to create and improve your mobile site.
- How-to guide for third-party software: See what needs to happen within certain software, such as WordPress or Drupal, to migrate your website hosted on a CMS to use a mobile-friendly template.
If you’re hosting your site on a CMS , this algorithm update is a great time to finally make the switch to the HubSpot COS. There are so many advantages to switching your site over to the COS, including marketing integration, personalized visitor experiences and ease of usability.
But most importantly, in this case, the COS is mobile-optimized out of the box. It has a built-in responsive design, so your site will be ready for anything—smartphones, tablets and desktops included. Not only that, but you can view every element of your site on multiple devices, including email, blogs and site pages, and make adjustments for the optimal experience.
Let us know your thoughts on Google's mobile-friendly ranking factor and any questions you face while making the transition.
Topics: Managing SEO and SEM