To many business owners, it doesn’t look so friendly. Companies must now ride the wave of mobile-friendly design or watch as their traffic plummets onto the jagged rocks below.
Google rarely gives insights into the details of its ranking methodologies, let alone describing them as ‘significant’. It’s no wonder, therefore, that with the mainstream media playing its part in fanning the flames, many business owners have been waiting for today with dreaded anticipation.
Despite reactionary grievances, Google’s update comes amid these statistics:
- An estimated 50 per cent of searches are conducted from mobile devices
- This year, UK adults are set to spend more time on mobile devices than desktop and laptop computers
And yet, The Search Agency UK found that only 32 of the FTSE 100 websites use responsive web design.
Even the biggest companies appear to be relatively unprepared. Ryanair, Next and the BBC, to name a few, have all been declared guilty on the mobile-friendly front, but can they really be oblivious to the behaviours of their online customers?
The BBC, for example, receives a lot of mobile engagement through its apps, and not optimising its web pages could be a choice to invest in one platform over another. Alternatively, this could arguably be a tactical decision, aimed at encouraging users to download their app when faced with a less than optimal mobile viewing experience.
The point is that more than one option is available to companies when choosing how to reach their customers on mobile devices. Failure to meet Google’s mobile-friendly status, then, may simply be a symptom of this rather than general neglect of user experience.
With circumstances being different from one business to the next, it is important to ask yourself the following questions to help prepare for the problems you may face in the coming months.
What to look out for once Mobilegeddon strikes
- Is your website mobile friendly?
This may seem obvious, but attaining a mobile-friendly site by accident is very unlikely. Google’s mobile-friendly checker not only gives you a clear cut answer to the question, but explains which elements of your site need to be changed. This information can help to lower redesign costs and allow you to focus on those aspects that really need upgrading.
- How dependant are you on mobile users?
Whilst the general trend suggests that mobile users are increasing, not all companies are dependent on mobile traffic. Our website, for example, is not currently responsive and so is not considered mobile-friendly by Google. However, we know that 80 per cent of our traffic comes from desktop users (although we’ve got an exciting announcement for mobile visitors next month). The most effective way to check user demographics is to view your website’s analytics account.
- Which landing pages receive the most traffic?
Making your entire website responsive is no easy task – it’s both time consuming and expensive. If you want to decrease this cost, ascertaining which pages drive the most traffic to your site from search engine results can tell you which pages you should focus on in the short term. Generally speaking this approach is not advised as a user’s journey across your entire site should always be as unified as possible; but with Google forcing your hand, this can help to prevent a potential loss in rankings.
So will it be ‘Mobilegeddon’ from now on? Not only does it depend on exactly how Google’s update operates, but also on each business’ online circumstances.
What is definite is that whether you are affected today, or dodge a bullet until a year from now, mobile-friendly websites are essential, not just because Google has announced an update, but because consumers are engaging with content across an array of devices. Who knows, maybe the smartwatchpocalypse will be next?