Is a mobile-friendly website necessary? Do you really need a website that will look good and perform well on smartphones and tablets? My guess is you probably already know the answer (by the way, it’s yes), and yet not all small businesses have websites that play nicely on mobile devices.
As a local small business owner, you may have put off investing in a mobile-ready website because you’re not certain if the time and costs involved justify the benefits. Who could blame you; watching the bottom line is what savvy entrepreneurs do.
But not making your website mobile-friendly will hurt your business’s success in the long term. To show the value of a mobile-ready website more clearly, let’s explore what’s in it for your business.
Undeniable Reasons Why Your Small Business Website Needs To Be Mobile-Friendly
- You’ll have a competitive edge.
Consumers are always on the go. In 2015, the volume of online searches on mobile devices surpassed the number of desktop searches, and it continues to rise. According to Pew Research Center’s Mobile Fact Sheet published in January 2017, approximately 77 percent of Americans had smartphones in 2016. That points to a lot of opportunity for businesses with mobile-friendly sites.
If consumers on mobile devices can find the information they need quickly and with minimal effort on your website, you have a distinct advantage over local businesses with non-mobile-ready websites. According to Google, nearly 9 out of 10 smartphone owners would purchase from a company again if they had a helpful or relevant mobile brand experience.
Conversely, people who have a negative brand experience on mobile are 60 percent less likely to purchase from that business in the future.
- Customers will find you.
Google began giving preferential treatment to mobile-ready websites in April 2015 (a time referred to by many as “Mobilegeddon”).
“As of April 21, 2015, sites with solid mobile support will rank higher in Google search results for mobile users. Sites with no mobile support will generally rank lower in mobile search results,” explained Adam Clarke, a Google Certified Professional, in his book SEO 2017: Learn search engine optimization with smart internet marketing strategies.
And with Google’s announcement that it’s planning to implement mobile-first indexing, mobile friendliness may gain even more SEO significance. Originally thought to launch in 2017, it now appears the algorithm change may not fly until sometime in 2018. The impact it will have is yet to be determined as Google continues to test and refine.
Considerations For Your Mobile-Friendly Site
If you aren’t sure how your website looks on a mobile device, use Google’s free mobile-friendly test tool for an assessment. It will analyze your website pages and tell you if your site is mobile-friendly or not. It will also provide you with details about what aspects of your site need improvement to provide a better mobile experience.
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly yet, you have two options for getting it there: responsive design on a single website or a separate mobile site in addition to your site designed for desktop computers.
With this web design technique, your website pages will automatically adjust on demand to the device (desktop, mobile phone or tablet) being used to view them. With responsive design, you’re able to maintain just one website because it will display correctly on any device. Responsive design even accommodates new device models automatically, so you don’t have to redesign your website whenever a new Android or iOS device goes on the market.
A Separate Mobile Website
A separate mobile website is exactly that — an additional company website designed for only mobile viewing. With its own URL, design, navigation and page structure, content, etc., it exists separate from your website developed for desktop users. Which means you end up needing to pay for and maintain two websites rather than just one. Also, having two websites might confuse visitors that use mobile devices and desktops to access your site — particularly if the sites’ navigation and functionality are vastly different. Another negative is two websites might complicate SEO efforts, and even dilute SEO results.
The Faster the Better — Loading Speed Matters
People using mobile devices to search for products and services often do so on the fly when they don’t have a lot of time to spare. Websites that are slow to load will miss opportunities. In fact, Google found that 53 percent of mobile site visits are abandoned on pages that take longer than three seconds to load. So, not only is it essential that your website is built for mobile use, but it must also load instantly. If you’re not sure how well your site performs, consider using Google’s Test My Site tool. It will analyze your site’s loading performance and suggest ways you might optimize it.
Spot-On Business Information
Another way to help set up your business website for success on mobile is to ensure it is listed correctly online. Having accurate citations (online references to your business’s name, address and phone number) will help your site show up in local mobile searches.
A mobile-friendly website needs to create an exceptional user experience and please search engines; developing one is part art and part science.
Connect with a trusted Internet marketing agency with mobile website development and SEO expertise to assess your situation and discuss your options.
Dawn Mentzer is a contributing writer for Straight North, a leading Internet marketing agency in Chicago that provides SEO, PPC and web design services. As a solopreneur and freelance writer, she specializes in marketing content, and collaborates with clients nationally and globally.