There hasn’t been a Google update since the first Panda rollout that has caused as much concern as the original Mobilegeddon in April 2015, but there are still plenty of web page owners who don’t understand the value of being mobile-friendly.
When the Wall Street Journal reported Google searches on mobile devices had finally surpassed those on computers for the first time in October 2015, it was clear that site owners had to pay more attention to the changing tide or get swept away by it, algorithm change or none.
Even so, Google is still trying very hard to remind site owners that their sites aren’t mobile-friendly, ahead of a rolling mobile algorithm update due to start soon. By searching for your own site from your mobile phone while logged into Google (this does not work on other mobile devices), you can easily determine if your site will be affected by the update. An obvious warning appears beneath the title and URL in search for any non-compliant sites.
Why Mobile-Friendly Search Matters
As an increasing number of people are migrating to mobile for product research, shopping and second screen browsing, making it vital that your site is easy to find. UPS’s report Pulse of the Online Shopper showed that Smartphone owners used their phone as much as 65 percent of the time to research a product and a little over half of the time (53 percent) to make a purchase. Accenture, a digital consulting company, found that 71 percent of adults aged 18 to 34 are using their Smartphones even while watching television.
Whether your marketing depends on search engine optimization or direct response marketing, mobile matters. It matters hugely if you want to continue to get hits — when your customers are sitting on the couch watching television, they’re not going to bother to type your full URL into Google, they’re going to type your company’s name or a search string that they believe will help them locate your business. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, Google may present your hard-won visitor with someone else’s site instead.
Is Your eCommerce Site Mobile-Friendly?
The same could be said for product research in store or out.
Your eCommerce shop could be the best desktop environment possible for camping supplies, but if you’re not mobile-friendly, a full half of your shoppers may be presented with listings for gear from shops that are better able to accommodate their Smartphones. It’s simply a numbers game, and the more eyes you have on your site, no matter your mobile marketing strategy, the better. Mobile-friendly search is just one more way to increase the odds of a sale.
If you’re not already mobile-friendly, you may need the help of an expert to get ready in time. But if you’re willing to go it alone, keep these things in mind:
- Update every page. You can’t simply apply a site-wide update and expect it to take. Instead what you’ll probably need is a page-by-page update, but it will depend on your platform.
- Mobile WordPress templates. Some WordPress templates claim to be mobile-friendly and are not. So even if you think you’re done testing your new site design thoroughly, your changes might not be reflected in Google’s search results right away. It can take time for Googlebot to crawl your site and recognize the changes you’ve made.
- Let Googlebot in. If you’ve made all the right changes and you’re still having problems with Google not recognizing your mobile-friendly site, make sure you’ve not accidentally blocked Googlebot. Several WordPress plug-ins, including a popular “bad bot” blocker called Wordfence, have been known to create these kinds of problems. Your host could also be to blame, GoDaddy was once notorious for blocking Googlebot to save system resources.
A boost from Google for being mobile-friendly is great, but the real advantage of a mobile-friendly site comes when your visitors convert into long-term customers and clients.
Mobile devices are only increasing in use and becoming more prevalent in the consumer landscape, so even if your site wasn’t facing a potential penalty from Google for not being friendly to Smartphones, it makes absolutely no sense to leave this huge section of customers out in the cold.