Why do we need mobile-friendly responsive websites? Consumer trends point to more than half of search queries coming from mobile devices, and that number is growing. Poor user experience on a mobile device leads to consumers giving up and visiting competitors’ websites instead. Google, in their quest to deliver user-friendly search results, penalizes websites that aren’t mobile friendly. By mid-2018, Google’s mobile-first index will crawl mobile sites instead of desktop sites in order to rank search results.
What is Responsive Website Design?
Also referred to as liquid design, responsive web pages automatically scale to smaller screens. Your website will have the same template and menus on desktop as it does on mobile. However, the CSS-defined style will change based on the size of the screen, in order to keep essential content and navigation above the fold, keep the site readable, and allow users to easily navigate with their thumbs rather than with the precision of a mouse.
How Will Mobile-First Change My Ranking?
According to Google execs, who trust that business owners will be on top of updating their websites in time for the mobile-first rollout, your ranking won’t be affected. However, that only applies if you’ve done your homework:
- Use the mobile-friendly test to make sure your site passes.
- Make sure your mobile site contains quality content presented in a user-friendly way. As with desktop, use title tags and H1 to help the search index analyze your site.
- Switch from the first-generation m-dot redirect to a more modern responsive site.
- In the past, some digital marketing experts recommended having less content on mobile, to reduce the need to scroll. This is now a no-no. If your content doesn’t exist on your mobile site, it can’t be indexed, and your investment in content creation will become obsolete. This is part of why we build responsive websites: your content won’t be diluted just because it’s on mobile.
- Don’t forget about user experience! Poor user experience damages conversion rates.
Speaking of conversion rates, the mother of all KPIs for digital marketing, it’s true that conversion rates on mobile remain lower than desktop conversions. Nevertheless, mobile conversions are growing. Furthermore, while executives understandably seek the bottom line to inform strategy, it’s fatal to overlook the less tangible value of mobile-friendliness.
- Patterns suggest that shopping often starts on mobile and ends on desktop.
- If consumers can’t easily browse your site on mobile, they’re less likely to shop your site on desktop. They’re also less likely to share your site on social media.
- Local searches mostly occur on mobile, and often result in actions such as a call or a visit.
- Marketing emails are more often opened on mobile than desktop devices. Not only should your emails be mobile-friendly, but links should direct users to mobile-friendly pages with simple calls to action.
- Google likes mobile, and you need Google to like your site.
By the Way: Battle of the Tech Giants
You can hear more about the switch to mobile indexing on Money Radio, and you should really tune in or listen to the podcast because we also discuss the epic drama going down between Google, Amazon, and Apple. Have you seen Pacific Rim? It’s like that, but with money and tech and acquisitions instead of giant robots. There are weaponized cookies, dueling personal assistants, dirty pranks, and more.