In recent times mobile devices have been the go-to devices when we are using the internet. We are to able pick up our mobile phones or tablet computers and browse the web as easily as if we were on a desktop computer, but far more conveniently as mobile devices are much more portable. Mobile usage of many online services such as Facebook and Twitter far surpasses the desktop usage of either of those sites. The traffic reports I see for clients websites and my own personal commercial sites show anywhere up to 60% of all visits to some of them come from mobile browsers. The problem though with a lot of sites is that they have never actually caught up with the times and offered a fully mobile optimised experience.
Not only is the above point bad for the user experience of people visiting those websites, but in the very near future not having a mobile version of your site is going to leave your site ranking behind those that do have mobile optimisation in Google search results. You see, Google can very easily see if a website is optimised for mobile. And they want to provide the very best search results for people who are using their search engine to find products, services, articles, news or anything else they may be searching for. And what is the point in returning a website within the mobile version of Google search if the websites themselves that are ranking are not optimised for mobile? Why not provide people with a set of results that are truly optimised for the devices they are searching from? Well my dear readers, the time is coming very quickly for this exact thing to happen. Matt Cutts has made it very clear recently that Google will be focussing more on mobile SEO in the very near future. Search engine optimisation is about to change and progress yet again and you need to be ready with a real strategy for mobile SEO.
How many times have you visited a website on an iPad or from your mobile phone only to find that it is not functional on either of these types of devices? Have you visited a website and struggled to be able to click on a link or interact with the content in any way because the site layout is actually meant for a computer that uses a pointing device such as a mouse or trackpad? These are the exact things that Google will be trying to stamp out in future with sites ranking within the mobile search results.
The solution to the potential issue caused by future changes with Google is to implement a responsive website design. A truly responsive website is one that will adapt it’s layout to suit the browser and screen resolution that it is being viewed from. As I am sure most people would know, the amount of content that is easily viewable on a 27″ desktop screen is completely different to what can be seen on an iPad, iPhone or Android device. It is also different to the average laptop screen. You cannot expect to fit the same amount of pixels on a small screen and expect to easily interact with it. You need to change the basic layout of a website to suit the screen that it is being used on. A responsive website will automatically change the layout based on either the specific browser or the resolution of the screen. By using the CSS (cascading style sheets) to serve different style properties based on the resolution, device orientation, colour capabilities and some other characteristics of the specific device you are able to deliver a truly device specific experience.
It is very easy to see if a website has a truly responsive design or not. Using a browser on your desktop or laptop computer, navigate to a website and then resize your browser window by dragging the corners around. You should see the website reformatting itself to suit the size of the browser.
A major benefit of a responsive design is the fact that you do do not need to use redirections to get people to see a mobile optimised page. If you are creating a specific landing page for mobile users and redirecting anybody coming into the site on a mobile browser to only that page, the potential is there to massively increase your site’s bounce rates and negatively affect SEO due to the fact people may not be landing on a page containing the content they would be typically expecting. It also creates confusion and a low quality experience for users as quite often they are not able to actually view the content they are trying to access if they are using a mobile device. Having a responsive design allows you to display a full set of content to a user and to have it reformatted to suit the device that they are viewing it from. In the future, if you are creating redirections to a mobile page that is not actually displaying the content that is supposed to be ranking, this is going to cause your site to suffer and no longer rank for the keywords that you previously were in Google’s mobile search pages. If you have blog content or any other content that is ranking within the search results, and you are redirecting users to a mobile page that is not displaying that content, ultimately you are going to lose a lot of traffic potential once Google steps up their game and changes their mobile ranking algorithms.
Not only is creating a great experience on mobile going to be necessary for SEO in future, it is also hugely beneficial for conversion rates if mobile optimisation is well implemented. As I have already mentioned above, interacting with the content on a smaller screen is done in a completely different way than if you are sitting in front of a computer with a mouse in one hand and a keyboard under the other. You have a much smaller amount of “screen real estate” to work with on mobile browsers and you still need to make your content readable and your images able to be viewed easily. You need to deliver your message in a far more direct way. The ways people interact with your content needs to be considered when you do implement a mobile strategy so that you can deliver the best experience which will maximise conversions and sales.
Mobile traffic is now a major component of the traffic segment to a lot of websites. If you have not implemented a mobile strategy already and you operate a commercial website or advertise your business via a company website, you really do need to start planning for this. Mobile usage is only going to continue to grow and Google is only going to get smarter with their search results. Prepare your website now with a responsive design that does not include Macromedia Flash components and has a fast load time via clean, structured CSS and be ready for any future changes to Google’s mobile search algorithms.
Webpire Marketing are the leading digital marketing & SEO agency located in Hobart, Tasmania. We offer web design & online marketing services such as SEO, social media marketing & PPC to businesses of all sizes.