You’ve experienced it for yourself…
You’re thumbing through Twitter or Facebook on your sweet looking smartphone and come across a post that you just have to read.
You stop dead in your tracks as those 140 characters sucked you right in. You quickly click the link with such excitement because this article is gonna be awesome…
“The homepage? I didn’t want this, something must be wrong”.
You’re uncomfortably pissed off and tell yourself you’ll just visit the site later but you never remember…
What if that content could have changed your life? As a business owner or content creator you cannot allow these things to happen.
Now, what if I told you that by not having a mobile-friendly website, Google would lower your site’s SEO ranking?
What if Google told you that not offering consumers a mobile-friendly version of your website or misconfiguring that site would result in a demotion within their search rankings?
Well, if you haven’t heard yet…Google just did that very thing.
That’s right…Google is trying to put mobile users first.
If you’re site is misconfigured for smartphone users or you just simply don’t have a mobile-friendly option for consumers you may see a drop in your rankings if you’re not compliant with their Mobile Optimization Guidelines.
Let’s face it…keeping up with Google is a challenge. Even when they try to take a stance like they did with their announcement of their preference for responsive design they leave people confused and asking a lot of questions due to some of the contradictory statements they’ve been making.
Sometimes it feels like even Google is trying to figure this “mobile” thing out, but there are some challenges with implementing responsive design and how it affects your site’s performance.
So let’s get something straight.
Google makes an announcement that you should use responsive design. Most websites using responsive design deal with slow load times which inherently have negative SEO consequences meaning your ranking is negatively impacted.
To make matters worse there is a site speed penalty for mobile in the works per an announcement by Google’s Matt Cutts. So, it seems like Google wants us to have a responsive site that loads fast.
Now, I do have to give it to Google in that they are trying to put the mobile user first as many businesses should be doing but as you’ve most likely experienced, we won’t tolerate slow loading sites.
What does this mean to your business?
In an effort to help us all navigate these new waters, Google has shared their recommendations as well as some of the most common mistakes when building a mobile site. After reviewing the most common mistakes I wanted to highlight a few that I think will most likely affect you, the small business owner.
1. Page Speed
We know that 74% of consumers will wait 5 seconds for a web page to load on their mobile device before abandoning the site. We also know that 71% of mobile browsers expect web pages to load almost a quickly or faster as web pages on their desktop computes.
With these characteristics of the mobile user in mind and the liklihood of users being on a 3G/4G network, performance is critical. Per Google you should:
- Make the mobile web faster by reducing the number of requests and amount of data transferred.
- Use Google PageSpeed Insights to check your site for page loading issues.
2. Unplayable Videos
A lot of videos just aren’t playable on smartphones. Google recommends using HTML5 standard tags to include videos and avoid content formats such as Flash that are not supported by all mobile devices. Offering a transcript is also a highly effective solution to be safe.
3. Faulty Redirects
Google shares three common examples of this but the one that I see time and time again is when a desktop sites server is setup to redirect all smartphone visitors to the mobile websites homepage. This is obviously ok if the user was trying to get to the homepage but not when trying to access a link deeper within the site.
This even happens with sites that have a mobile equivalent of the desired page but the redirect was implemented incorrectly. You ideally want to make sure that there is a mobile equivalent to every URL if you’re not using responsive design. Also, if you don’t have a mobile equivalent just let them go to the page they were looking for on the full site from their mobile device.
4. App Download Interstitials
Many businesses try to promote their smartphone app to their mobile web visitors by showing them an interstitial page to drive downloads. I find this super annoying and it’s nice to know Google does too.
If you want to promote your app to mobile web visitors use a banner. They came to your mobile website for a reason. Don’t slow them down with stupid interstitials.
If you want to read more about the other common mistakes be sure to visit Google’s site.
I highly recommend you do an audit of your own site to identify if you’re making these common mistakes. Obviously if you don’t have a mobile website yet you should start there.
You also have to remember that just having a mobile-friendly website is not a mobile strategy.
If you’re confused and not sure where to start, I’d be happy to perform an audit for YOUR business. My audits offer a comprehensive review of your current business, your competition and I’ll provide a roadmap of ideas and recommendations on what to implement first.
Although some of Google’s announcements are contradictory and met with confusion, I hope that some of these new developments lead to more businesses becoming mobile-friendly. It’s what consumers want.