Mobile-friendly is a buzzword that marketers like to throw around, but what does it really mean and is it a necessity for your business?
Speaking in layman’s terms, more people own and operate a mobile phone than a desktop, laptop or tablet. By running a website that is friendly to the hand-held device, your enterprise becomes in sync with the cultural norms of consumers domestically in Australia and those around the globe.
While this is a basic premise that we accept given the data that is on hand and the trend that is organically occurring, there is a strong search engine optimisation (SEO) component that cannot be ignored.
Since the Google Mobile Update of 2015, there has been a string of algorithm changes that has altered the brand’s operating model to fall in line with this phenomenon.
Applications like Gmail might still be a bit behind the times when it comes to differentiating and labeling mobile and desktop content, but the majority of online platforms understand that mobile compatibility is integral to their long-term viability.
The likes of Google, Bing and Yahoo have tweaked their navigation system to reflect what we as digital consumers have embraced – the smartphone. Mobile users demand up-to-date information to source names, locations, operating hours and contact details and that hub of activity has forced organisations to adapt or perish.
Those sites that design their website to the mobile community enjoy a range of benefits when it comes to search engine visibility.
Let’s run our eye over 6 of the most valuable advantages.
Lowers bounce rate
Over the course of their algorithm history, Google have become a stickler for metrics that are based more on qualitative data than just the quantitative. One case study that fits this category is the notion of the bounce rate – a statistic that revolves around the time spent by users once they clicked on the web link to head to the domain page.
The longer the user spends on the site, the lower the bounce rate is. Search engines will punish those whose traffic can be deduced to a series of diversions where the individuals cannot hit the ‘back’ button quickly enough. This is usually a signal of spam or low-quality content that is not worth the time of the user and has little to no relevance to the topic at hand.
An optimised mobile site directly influence a domain’s bounce rate to engage those who are scouring the web remotely. By listing the details of the products or services on a Google Chrome or Internet Explorer application where the images, videos and text are easy to navigate, users are far more likely to remain and click on additional tabs.
Satisfied customers that don’t appear and disappear at a high rate are viewed positively by the search engines, increasing the chances of returning visitors and boosting organic traffic figures. By utilising a format that embraces the mobile user, your brand can manage to not only bring in clicks from the smartphone community, but keep them on the page for longer.
Easier for web crawlers to navigate
The sitemaps are a central facet of Google’s operating model whereby tabs and content can be understood universally. This is seen through mobile configuration applications with a service like WordPress becoming a major player on the scene. Content, tabs and multimedia are optimised to suit the smaller screen where the experience is equal from one device to the next.
Think about the optimisation of keywords, the descriptions, alt-text, logos, videos and every element that forms your website. A site that is mobile-friendly becomes an asset that communicates to Google your enterprise is open, transparent and able to be ranked according to the domain’s versatility.
There is a series of tangible benefits to transforming your website’s compatibilities towards hand-held devices, but there is also one significant intangible that should be identified. It is accepted as normal practice in 2018 to have a domain that operates just as well for smartphones than it does for laptops, tablets and desktops – a factor that speaks to brand credibility.
Consider any of the dominant marketing performers in your niche. From Coles and Woolworths in the supermarket sector to Nike and Adidas for sports apparel or Toyota and Honda for car manufacturers. Each brand has a reputation to uphold at all times and a fully functioning website that caters to mobile users acts to reinforce this message.
Every time an organisation puts itself out there in the field from a flyer to a business directory listing, it is an opportunity to showcase a degree of professionalism, expertise and understanding for the terms and conditions of that space.
Utilising a responsive web design that consumers respect opens a host of further opportunities to impress, illustrating to the market that your enterprise has their finger on the pulse and appreciates the cultural habits of society at large.
Engages social media phenomenon
Social media is considered one of the purest forms of garnering organic traffic to your webpage. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn are home to communities of online users who are continually following, sharing and discussing brands online – most of whom through their smartphone.
The parallel between social media app users and general web traffic is not lost on optimisers who understand that channeling both trends towards the same goal is paramount. Put simply, a mobile-friendly platform offers a gateway for the millions of social media users to transition from a domain back to the app and vice versa, all the while promoting content and integrating your brand messaging.
If a company is promoting their content via a tweet or a Facebook post and there is a lack of mobile compatibility, the bounce rate will soar without the chance to leverage social media followers. The negative effect will snowball and the hours spent investing in these individual campaigns will be a waste.
The worlds of social media and mobile are officially separate, but are intrinsically linked with a variety of overlapping themes and requirements. Cater to each by having a design that works on smartphones.
Taps into booming market
Optimisers who tap into their array of online techniques to boost traffic scores need to achieve one basic goal – promote the brand where people are operating on a daily and hourly basis. If there is a location where key demographics are talking, sharing and examining brands and trending topics, that is where your enterprise needs to occupy their time and effort.
What has become abundantly clear over the past decade is the need to be prevalent and proactive in the mobile sphere. Australia’s own case study is a microcosm for the rest of the world, seeing usage nationwide from 16.6 million in 2011 to reach 19.7 million in 2018. That figure is expected to surpass the 20 million figure by 2019, a staggering state of affairs given that the entire population is approximated to be 24.1 million.
The high ratio of Google searches conducted on mobile devices and the significant percentage of web traffic run via the hand-held device makes for a simple equation: brands must acknowledge the trend and craft their domain accordingly.
Many marketers subconsciously picture a standard desktop or laptop when the topic of website design or online promotion crops up, but smartphones are really top of the agenda when it comes to servicing a consumer base.
Speed is king
A mobile URL will almost always have a quicker capability than their desktop counterparts. Given the limited amount of space to work with, the content space is at a premium and with users often out remotely working off their 4G connection, there is no time to waste on data loading.
The consensus behind the concept of page loading for mobile comes down to the 2-second rule. If the domain is up in full within that short timeframe, the user is likely to remain and navigate their way between the tabs. Should the lag time venture beyond that window, the bounce rate will escalate and the traffic will be missed.
Mobile compatibility therefore becomes a major asset for an enterprise looking to avoid the pitfalls of a community who have shorter attention spans. Information must be delivered on the spot because every niche will have competitors who are willing to step in when another brand fail their constituency.
The algorithm updates take into account the loading time as it overlaps with the notion of the bounce rate. Optimisers know that mobile is where the speed test is truly illustrated because any URL that is overloaded with heavy content or unnecessary cache won’t survive.
Put your site through the Oz Speed Test and see if your page is up to standard.
The best tactic to score well on a mobile-friendly platform is to utilise a responsive web design, offer dynamic content and adopt a separate mobile URL. Should those bullet points be met by the optimiser, then the search engine ranking should look after itself.
The greatest advantage to having a website that is geared to mobile traffic is avoiding all of the disadvantages that comes with a poor conversion. Bounce rates are high, speeds are low, web crawlers struggle to integrate your name, the brand messaging is poor and the smartphone and social media communities become obsolete.
To be visible and relevant in the 2018 marketplace, a mobile-friendly site is mandatory.
As our marketing manager at SEO Shark, James takes on the responsibility of overseeing the creation of original, persuasive and high quality content that is an integral part of how we achieve success for our clients. Through his experience working in the SEO field, James has developed a robust understanding of core digital marketing principles and has a particular interest in the growing importance of sincere and engaging content in world where issues like ‘fake news’ have become a major talking point.