While we’ve yet to truly reach a post-PC era, it can’t be denied that mobile continues to grow bigger and stronger everyday. Helping to drive sales of mobile devices is the growing number of public Wi-Fi spots. It’s more practical to browse the Internet with a mobile device than a laptop. According to comScore (a leading internet technology company that provides Analytics for a Digital World™), Tables continued to gain traction in the US in 2012; with 52.4 million US tablet owners as of December 2012.
Google’s Yoshikiyo Kato and Pierre Far said about the change in a blog post:
“To improve the search experience for smartphone users and address their pain points, we plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.”
Why should you care whether or not visitors to your Website are getting the best possible mobile-user experience? Aside from the fact that your customers and clients are spending more of their time on their beloved mobile devices, and you don’t want first-time viewers to your site quickly moving on to your competitor’s site because your site is too frustrating to view/use on their iPhone, when it comes to Mobile sites, Google has spoken.
Last year Google introduced a new mobile user agent for Googlebot-Mobile Smartphones, which is responsible for detecting mobile content. Google is now finally offering specific recommendations on which way to build your mobile sites. While there are various methods of having a mobile ready/friendly site, their preferred method of choice is Mobile Responsive.
According to studies, site visitors will move right off your site and onto your competitors in a heartbeat if they find your site too frustrating to use on their mobile device. The way Google Research sums it up is: “No Mobile Site = Lost Customers.” Then again, they would say that since a poor mobile experience reflects badly not only on the sites but on the Google searches that sent them to an unfriendly mobile experience. This begs the question: Will Google favor mobile sites in their rankings? I would imagine that if that’s what will keep their advertisers happy (the stakes are higher than ever before as advertisers look to build successful digital strategies), then they’ll come up with an algorithm that favors mobile sites. But that’s just my wild guess – and I could be flying too close to the sun with this theory.
Mobile responsive websites are still in their early stages of development, however, I believe they will replace the mobile ready, or mobile friendly, sites for a vast majority of businesses. My personal opinion is that having a responsive site results in a much better user experience than having a website with detection and redirection to your mobile version, which is typically a watered down version of your full site.
So, the question becomes WHEN should you adjust and adapt your site to All Things Mobile, and not IF you should make the conversion. The answer is: TODAY would be a good time!
UPDATE: November 18, 2014. Apparently, my wild guess (mentioned above) wasn’t all that wild after all. It just took a couple of years to manifest. If your site earns Google’s new “Mobile-friendly” designation you might be rewarded with a ranking boost.