It doesn’t seem long ago since the term ‘responsive website’ meant almost nothing to 99.9% of people, even those who were pretty website-savvy. Now, almost everyone is familiar with the term, if only because they have had a message from Google warning them that their website is not mobile friendly.
A great many people who have websites use Google webmaster tools or Google Search Console as it is now known and why not – Google is after all the giant that everyone knows and trusts. But it has been noticed by people who make a living watching the skies that when Google warns of something, it usually means an algorithm will surely follow. That is why, if your website is not mobile friendly (for mobile, read any device other than a PC or Mac) you should put that right – and fast. This mobile friendly tool, developed by Google, will help you to check. There have been forays from Google in the past under which non-mobile friendly websites suffered in the rankings, but it was withdrawn – this time, it might come to stay. But Google and its algorithms is not the only reason that you should take these steps.
Search habits have changed and mobile friendly labels will help
Once upon a time, most searches were done from a PC, either at home or in the office, and so websites which were slow to load, clunky and hard to navigate were, whilst a little annoying, no so much of a problem. Recent research has shown that in fact now most searching is being done on the move, using smartphones or tablets and when a site is slow on a PC it is ten times worse on a mobile device. When you get stuck in a loop whilst out and about and all you want to do is find the opening hours of a shop, restaurant or other attraction, most people just tend to break the connection and look elsewhere. To save all this frustration, Google are rolling out a mobile-friendly label, so searchers will know from the very first click whether the site will be fast and easy or whether it will drive them crazy with frustration. To earn your mobile-friendly label your site must be … well, mobile-friendly and Google have tools available to make sure that this can be dealt with without too much faff and hassle. And when it’s done, you will soon notice and increase in traffic and conversions. The search analytics tool in Google webmaster tools now gives much more information than before and you can which device people are using to find your website.
Mobile responsive design is easy
All you need to do is check against one of the many help-sites online to see if your website is mobile friendly, although the chances are if you need to ask, it isn’t. If you are one of the many self-designers out there, you don’t have to struggle alone. Again, there are sites which can help you but, perhaps better for all except the most computer-literate, there are a number of experts who can talk you through what your site needs to have done to it and to do it or, if you still want to have a go yourself, can advise on what software you need to achieve your goal. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, when talking about mobile friendly websites, what you want is simple and straightforward design and consistency across platforms. What users want most of all is to be able to recognize where they are from the first click – make sure your website looks the same across all devices and you will keep more customers. Think about how many clicks you would be prepared to make to get to where you are going. Then, design your site with one fewer than that!
Mobile is the way forward
Some technology can make backward steps (look at how vinyl has reinvented itself, for instance, when everyone said it was dead) but there is no really likely scenario in which people will stop using mobile devices and rely on their PCs 100% of the time. Mobile searching is here to stay and it really is stupid to bury your head in the sand and pretend that your customers will only ever search from their desks. Just as many homes now don’t have landlines but rely on their mobile phones for all use, so more and more people are beginning to rely on tablets and mobiles for all of their computing needs. So, if you only do one thing this year to improve your website, make it mobile friendly.