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The importance of a mobile-friendly website

If you are reading this blog, then either one of two things are likely true. Either you have just discovered that your website is not mobile friendly or you aren’t yet sure (You can test it here). In either situation, you are probably wondering whether or not you should even care. It should not come as a surprise to you that we believe that it is important and here are some reasons why.

In 2015, the Internet was shaken up by a revolutionary event, the Mobilegeddon. It sounded ominous, and for a good reason. It was believed that Google was planning to release an update that would demote websites that didn’t adhere to Google’s mobile-friendly practices. At the time, this was the majority of websites, and such an update would have a drastic impact on the search rankings of most businesses. As is often the case with predictions of catastrophe, the impact was not nearly as big as the hype. However, this does not mean that being Google Mobile Friendly does not have an impact on your business.

So why did Google make such an announcement and what does it mean to be Google Mobile Friendly? Google makes a significant portion of its money from advertising revenue. Like all advertising platforms, its value is dependent on the number of eyeballs it received. It is in Google’s best interest to maintain their position as the most utilized search engine. This means that they have to offer visitors the highest ‘quality’ search results.

Google takes a lot into account when determining the “quality” of a website as well as its appropriateness to show for any particular search. It has been well documented that user experience plays an important role in Google’s determination of “quality.” As the number of mobile searchers increased, it became evident to Google that websites that did not meet certain characteristics failed to deliver a quality user experience for mobile searchers.

What are these characteristics and what do they mean?

Flash usage

Although we don’t see it too much these days, many older sites used a technology called Flash to display animations and videos. The folks at Apple infamously decided that Flash was not a suitable platform for mobile users and did not include support for Flash with the iPhone. Google agreed, and few mobile browsers are capable of rendering Flash-based content.

If your website still uses Flash, it is time to look at replacing it with modern tools such as those available in HTML5. Adobe, the maker of Flash, has announced that they will be discontinuing the product in 2020. However, you should not wait that long. If your website IS still using Flash, then it is likely time for an entirely new website.

Viewport not configured

Gone are the days that a web designer could be reasonably sure of the size of the screen that a visitor would be using. These days, visitors to your site use a large variety of devices with varying screen sizes. The viewport tag was added to instruct browsers how to adjust the page’s dimension and scaling to suit the device. Without a viewport tag, the browser only shrinks the display of your website to fit the screen which often results in your website being too small to see. Visitors then have to pinch and zoom to see your website. Most visitors will prefer to hit the back button and leave your website, likely never to return.

Fixed-width viewport

In this case, a viewport tag has been added, but it is set to a fixed width. Some web developers define the viewport to a fixed pixel size to adjust a page to suit common mobile screen sizes. This doesn’t solve the issues mentioned earlier with your websites display across all devices. If this is the case with your website, it is likely someone added a viewport tag as a temporary solution and never got around to redesigning the entire website. This Band-Aid is no longer working, and Google has noticed.

Content not sized to viewport

This error indicates one of the most annoying factors of a non-mobile friendly website, horizontal scrolling. This is another one of those errors that will lead people to run to their back buttons before spending any time on your website.

Small font size

Some websites used fixed font sizes that do not scale for mobile devices. In these cases, a website’s text becomes illegible. Most people would rather try a different website than pinch and zoom or worse, squint, to read your website’s content.

Touch elements too close

Mobile users don’t use a mouse to navigate your website. Instead, they tap items to interact with them. Fingers aren’t as precise as a mouse, and if your touch targets such as buttons and links are too close together, a user may end up clicking a different item than the one they intended. You can imagine how frustrating that could be.

All of these factors together have now become an indicator of a website’s quality to both Google and perhaps more importantly, to your visitors. Visitors view your website as an indicator of your brands quality. A website is a valuable marketing tool that helps build trust and confidence with your visitors. A website that is not mobile friendly could send the wrong message and actually turn potential customers away.

If your website is not mobile friendly, please contact us today to discuss our responsive website solutions as well as some of the other ways mobile can impact your business.

Google indexes sites on a mobile-first indexing basis.

That means if you have a mobile-version of your website, and it’s a stripped down version of your desktop site with different content,  it could negatively impact your rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Why suffer that needlessly?

Having a responsive site isn’t enough – Google looks for user-friendliness too.

The design is important. Information architecture is important. Graphics should be to scale. These are all elements that bring the design and aesthetic of your website together. But all of this is tied to SEO and best practices too. At Absolute, you get the best of both worlds, knowing that the same team that builds your website is a certified Google partner and understands SEO and SEM best practices.

Speed matters

If your site doesn’t load within a few seconds, users get frustrated and will select your competitor with a better web experience.

In 2012, 67% of people said they are more likely to purchase when visiting the mobile-friendly site, but 61% said they’d bounce right off a site if the mobile experience were an unattractive one.

So, before you even think about redesign your website, it’s important to know why. Is it to get more traffic? To increase the number of customers and conversions on your site? Or it is to improve your customer’s overall experience on your website? When designing a responsive website, we take into account all of the above.

Contact the team at Absolute Marketing Solutions, a multi-award winning agency with experience building beautiful, effective, responsive websites. Get started on your mobile-friendly website today!

Alfred Goldberg

Co-founder and President of American Operations at Absolute Marketing Solutions. Alfred Goldberg has over 15 years of experience as a small business owner and is one of two individuals in Florida to hold the distinction of being a Mobile Marketing Association Certified Mobile Marketer.

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