digital marketing
By Carrie-ann | Mar 10, 2015 | Google news, Internet Marketing, SEO

Why You Should Stop Ignoring Mobile Users

Making sure your business has a mobile compliant site is no longer optional. Don’t just take my word for it.
Ignoring mobile users means you’re leaving money on the table today and tomorrow. This is especially true for ecommerce sites. Imminent developments from Google mean you could well see desktop sales start to suffer due to reduced rankings.
Mobile-friendliness is set to become a ranking algorithm from 21st April. And it doesn’t end there. Google is also working on a separate mobile index. The bottom line is there’s a window of opportunity to get your house in order. With more people using a mobile to access the internet, why wouldn’t you?

Tipping Point

Research from a number of sources predicted mobile use would overtake desktops c 2014 as the platform of choice. And of course they did.  You may read this and assume mobile users aren’t relevant to your business. But it would be incorrect to assume mobile use is restricted to the young or less affluent. The smart phone changed all that.
For busy executives, whether on the move or not, mobiles are simply more convenient. Without some degree of mobile functionality a website does not appear as intended on a mobile screen. Therefore it’s hard to use. People have really got to like your business to hang around. But more than likely they won’t. It’s well documented first impressions matter – people hit the back button very quickly. The upshot is reduced enquiries and sales. Basically you’re giving business to your competitors.
But perhaps your online business is performing OK despite losing mobile traffic?  This is likely to change in the coming months when your desktop traffic takes a nose dive. To understand why, we need to talk about Google.

Why Being Mobile Friendly is Essential

Google is pretty much synonymous with the internet. Its goal has always been to give users the best experience possible. It only cares about your business to the extent you please searchers. In my opinion, Google has been quite late to recognise the growth in mobile use. But now mobiles are the primary way of accessing the internet, it is putting measures in place.
In the brave new world of mobile if your site delivers a poor experience it will get punished. To the outside world it all started with Google displaying Mobile-Friendly labels in the search results. It even provided a tool allowing you to test your site. This has now evolved into a ranking algorithm which will go live on 21 April. One factor will be page speed, based on the desktop version of the site. But Google is still experimenting on what factors should be based on the mobile or desktop version.
Google has always recommended responsive design. For WordPress sites that don’t comply there are plugins which will display a basic mobile version but without the flexibility of being able to display mobile-only content.  But it appears that even a responsive design may not be enough.

A Mobile Only Search Index

This is because Google is now working on a mobile-only search index. There is no doubt that this project is in the process of being developed. If you’ve yet to implement any mobile capability there is a window of opportunity to decide whether a separate mobile or responsive site is the best way forward. There’s no time frame on the development of the new index, but Google’s announcement it’s in the works, should leave you in no doubt as to the importance of mobile.

Boosting Sales with Mobile

Let me put rankings to one side for a moment to focus on user experience. An informational / branding site that’s not mobile compliant carries little risk for the user regardless of whether they persist with browsing. An ecommerce site is a different kettle of fish since using the wrong buttons carries some risk. On the other hand a dedicated mobile site allows an ecommerce business to display products and information to best effect. Taking a long term view this is the best route for most sites but is now, I think, imperative for businesses that sell online.