By Tara Hershberger
Earlier this year, Google updated its search algorithm to give mobile-friendly websites higher search rankings than non-mobile-friendly sites. The impact of so-called “mobilegeddon” is perhaps less dramatic than anticipated; however, the importance of making websites easy for mobile users to navigate can’t be underestimated.
A short time later, Google announced that, for the first time, searches from mobile devices surpassed those performed on computers (including tablets). Mobile should be at the forefront of your digital strategy starting now.
Data shows that at least 80 percent of Internet users have smartphones. Don’t you want those Web users who are on the go—your potential customers—to have the best possible experience browsing your site?
A site is considered mobile-friendly if mobile users:
–Don’t have to zoom in to read it.
–Don’t have to scroll horizontally because the content fits the screen.
–Don’t need to have uncommon software—such as Flash Player—in order to use the site.
Mobile content allows consumers to do everything they can on a computer, but content is prioritized for the most common features, such as account access, site navigation and the ability to call.
It was with all of this in mind that Google was prompted to reward mobile-friendly websites in its search rankings. But remember that Google uses many factors to rank pages and whether or not a site is mobile-friendly is just one among them.
Still, if you were affected by the mobilegeddon update because your site isn’t fully optimized for mobile, immediate consideration should be given to updating your website. There are a number of benefits of a responsive site over a separate mobile site, including:
–Investing in one platform for all devices.
–Managing content through a single system.
–Taking advantage of enhanced search engine optimization (SEO).
–Creating consistent user experience across all devices.
It is expected that over time ranking will continue to deteriorate as more searches are made on mobile devices, so the outlook for most non-responsive websites is poor. April’s change to the new algorithm applies to individual pages not entire websites, so developing responsive landing pages will help in the short-term while you work on making the rest of your site ready for mobile users.
Want to see where your website stands on mobile-friendliness? One tool available is Google’s own test. (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/)
There are several factors to consider when assessing mobile-friendliness:
- Loading speed. Less than three seconds is ideal.
- The content should be easy to find and read, vertically or horizontally.
- Adjusting for touch screen. Mobile-friendly also means finger-friendly! Leaving enough space between links will ensure they are simple to tap.
One recent survey revealed that if users are frustrated or don’t see what they are looking for on a mobile website, there’s a 61 percent chance that they will search again to find another website that meets their needs. Chances are that other site they land on will be one of your competitors. On the other hand, people who have a positive experience with a mobile website are 67 percent more likely to buy a product or use a service.
All businesses, including financial institutions, should invest in mobile technology to capture the traffic and sales they might have been missing. Even if the new Google search update seems to have spared you in the short run, having a responsive site with pages that meet Google’s mobile-friendliness requirement is good for a business in the long run.
Tara Hershberger is vice president of media for Pannos Marketing, based in Bedford, New Hampshire. Pannos offers digital marketing and social media for financial institutions. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @Tarahersh.
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