Think You Don’t Need A Mobile Site? Think Again.

You might think having a mobile site doesn’t matter to your business. However, Google’s data has revealed it is now a must-have for EVERY business. Here’s 3 reasons why.

In November 2016, Google announced they were introducing a mobile-first approach to indexing search results for users. (You can read the full article here). This is in response to stats showing more searches being conducted on mobiles than desktops.

What does this mean for you?

On a techy level, it means Google will be scanning your website’s mobile version first if it’s available. In practical terms, websites with a mobile version or are mobile friendly will rank better than those that don’t.

However, this isn’t the only reason you should have a mobile site.

This data tells us a lot about how we can expect people to visit & explore your website. Here’s 3 insights we can take away from Google’s announcement, and why a mobile-friendly site is now crucial for your business.

Hang on - what would they know?

Hold the phone (pun intended).

Just because Google makes a statement, it doesn’t automatically become absolute truth… does it?

Here’s a few stats that make us believe - and act upon - what Google is saying (we’ll try to keep this as jargon-lite as possible).

  • Google’s operating system Android had about 85% market share in 2016 (source).  This means around 85% of smartphones in 2016 were running on Google’s software.
  • As of August 2016, Google has over 70% of the Mobile/Tablet global search engine share (source). This means that, when users want to search the internet, the most popular search engine used on mobile phones is Google.

Given the popularity of both their mobile phone operating systems & the use of its search engine from mobile phones, we can safely rely on Google’s advice.

A Mobile Site is NOT AN APP:

  • A mobile site, or responsive website, is the same as your actual website. It has responded to the fact it is being viewed on a mobile device and so the content, text size and layout automatically adjusts to suit. It also allows for touch interaction, as opposed to mouse clicks.
  • An App is an actual application that is downloaded onto your device and run as a program, rather than online content viewed in a browser, like Chrome or Safari.

Back to business. More specifically, your business.

Why is it so important to have a mobile site?

1. More mobile searches than desktop gives us an insight of people’s behaviour.

If more people are using their phones to find answers to their burning questions, it means they’re probably doing it from a variety of places, like:

  • While they’re in the kitchen making breakfast/lunch/dinner
  • Commuting between destinations, like work & home and
  • As a secondary activity to others, like in ad breaks while watching TV.

In most general use cases, it’s safe to assume they’re not sitting down at a desk, firing up a desktop computer and dedicating 1-2 hours to research. They’re conducting quick searches on the go, and they want answers now.

If your website doesn’t accommodate this approach to finding information, it will likely be either skipped over in search results, or quickly clicked out of when visited.

What you can do:

  • Ensure your website has a mobile version, or is responsive (doesn’t resize to suit different screens) If the user can’t read your text, they won’t read your text - they’ll click out and go elsewhere.
  • Make sure the top-most content on all pages connects with the user through:
    - Professional, relevant images
    - Clear titles & an obvious value proposition and
    - Call-to-action buttons that are obvious and irresistible.

Here’s an example of how a website looks on a mobile device when it’s not responsive - would you hang around to try and read it?

A responsive website and a non responsive website | UpBound Website Design & Digital Marketing

2. Google’s Micro-Moments

Google has coined the term Micro-Moments in a recent guide to businesses looking to maximise this new era of mobile engagement (check out the full report here.) In it, they outline the 4 states of mind users are in when searching on mobile devices:

  • ‘I want to know’ moments
  • ‘I want to go’ moments
  • ‘I want to do’ moments and
  • ‘I want to buy’ moments.

This means users are framing their searches along these lines.

How does this work in practical terms?

A small business owner like yourself might want to know if their business needs a mobile site. So they search in google “do I need a mobile site?” With any luck, an article like this will appear in the first page of results! :)

What you can do:

  • Think about your target audience and make a list of questions they might ask you relevant to your business. A landscaper might be asked “what are the best flowering plants for sandy soil?” A hairdresser might be asked “what is the best styling product for sensitive skin?”
  • Write down answers to these questions that are straight to the point, yet detailed enough to offer a comprehensive response. Add these to your website as a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section. This is a great way for your website to contain a hefty amount of keywords in a way that’s relevant & helpful.
  • Do this regularly - once a month if you can - as Google also prefers sites that are updated frequently with content that is valuable to their customers (i.e. searchers).

3. Instant Contact

One of the golden rules of successful website design for businesses is make it easy to engage - make it simple to call, email, visit, sign up or buy.

Mobile sites make this even more achievable, as they can quickly redirect that user away from the website to perform a specific action. Our website can redirect to the phone app or email app, depending on how the visitor want to get in touch. Either is easy to do from the first page.

The UpBound website is a great example of how a mobile site can make it easy for a small business to connect with customers. | UpBound Website Design & Digital Marketing

There are any number of apps that mobile sites can refer to, including:

  • Call now buttons - links to phone
  • Find now - links to maps
  • Share - links to social
  • Save for later - download to device.

What you can do:

  • Implement a mobile action bar in your website that creates a series of clickable options at the bottom of the screen when viewed on mobile devices.
  • Claim your business on Google Maps or through Google My Business, then ensure your details are correct and up-to-date. Sometimes the user doesn’t even go into your website if they see your contact details come up on the search results page, they may jump straight on the phone or into the car!

Is a mobile website expensive?

A responsive website should be FREE, because it should be an inherent part of how your entire website is built. If your business website is built to be responsive, it should automatically resize to suit any screen big or small.

If you want to really optimise for mobile users, speak to your web desiger about creating a separate landing page for visitors using a small screen. Think about the kind of information that would be most crucial to them - like parking nearby or deals-of-the-day - and create a second homepage that has a mobile-oriented design, with a link to your main site for everything else.

This announcement from Google shouldn’t be cause for panic. If anything, it’s an opportunity to review your website and make it even more irresistible.  

Beyond Google, it’s about building a website people will actually engage with, no matter where they are or what device they are using.

About the Author: Meredith Heeley is the Lead Designer, Web & Marketing Strategist for UpBound. Need a hand with your website & marketing strategy? Get in touch & let's get started.