Why You Need a Mobile-Friendly Website Even if Google's Update Didn't Hurt You
It’s been over a month since Mobilegeddon seemingly fizzled into yet another false doomsday prophecy. After weeks of fearmongering by media and industry professionals, Google’s mobile-friendly update appeared to launch with a whimper instead of a bang.
In the weeks following the update designed to give mobile-friendly websites a boost in the search rankings, very few website owners noticed much impact on their mobile traffic. While rankings fluctuated a little here and there, many non-mobile friendly websites continue to outrank their mobile-friendly peers.
None of this is to say that the mobile landscape didn’t change on April 21st. The mobile-friendly update did have a broad impact on the web. There was a big increase in the number of mobile-friendly websites ranking in the top pages in search. Of course, much of this was the result of websites that were already ranking well switching to a mobile-friendly design. It’s impossible to say if they would have held onto these high rankings had they decided not to adapt to Google’s new rules.
If you are one of the many website owners who opted not to go mobile friendly, then you should be closely monitoring how the update affected you. Whether you’re measuring the impact based on your leads, sales, traffic, or rankings, you probably haven’t noticed much difference. Yet. But before you celebrate your decision to save some money and ignore Google’s mobile guidelines, you need to make sure you have a plan in place to go mobile friendly soon. Here’s why:
1. The Mobile-Friendly Signal Will Only Get Stronger
Your mobile rankings may not have changed much at all in this post-Mobilegeddon world. Unless you are a true doomsdayer though, you shouldn’t have expected much right away. After all, the mobile-friendly ranking signal is just one of over 200 factors that determines the order of a search result. That means unless you were barely outranking your mobile-friendly competitor, you’re probably still outranking them. In other words, there are a lot of other things at play, and whether or not you have the little mobile-friendly label is just a small thing. For now. But remember this is a brand new ranking signal. As mobile continues to become a bigger player in the search game, this signal is likely to grow in importance. Google has been pushing for a more mobile-friendly internet for quite some time now. Don’t expect this to go away quietly. While you’ll likely always win on searches for your brand name, you shouldn’t be surprised if your non-mobile friendly website loses rankings for more general search queries in the near future.
2. A Separate Mobile Index Is Coming
Google has already announced that it is working on a completely separate mobile index. What exactly this means is unclear at the moment. Could it mean that only mobile-friendly websites will appear in mobile search results? Not likely. After all, Google wants to provide the most relevant search results possible, and keeping websites out of search because of their appearance isn’t exactly the best user experience. However, a separate mobile index could mean a much more drastically different search result. If you aren’t mobile friendly when this index does roll around, your visibility could be in big trouble.
3. Mobile Device Usage Continues to Grow
Many web experts have long predicted that mobile device usage will overtake all other internet usage. Just a few weeks ago, Google finally announced that mobile search was number one. Yes, there are more Google searches conducted on mobile devices than on desktops. That doesn’t necessarily mean your industry sees more mobile searches than desktop searches. In fact, it’s still pretty rare for a website to have more mobile organic traffic than desktop organic traffic. But mobile is catching up across every industry. You probably can’t find any examples where mobile device usage is going down. We’ve seen mobile organic traffic double, triple, and even quadruple for some sites in the past year. Everything points to a future with even more mobile searches. Phones are becoming better, speeds are getting faster, and we’re moving closer to an era where the majority of consumers grew up using mobile devices.
4. Your Conversion Rate is Negatively Affected by a Non-Mobile Friendly Site
It’s no secret that mobile-friendly websites convert at a higher rate than non-mobile friendly sites. Mobile device users are more likely to make a purchase or complete a contact form when a website is mobile friendly. Why? Because it’s easier. When the cart doesn’t render perfectly on a smartphone, that’s just one more reason for a user not to make a purchase. When the contact form doesn’t fit on the screen, that’s one more reason for the consumer to choose a different company. While it’s impossible to predict exactly how much difference a mobile-friendly website will have on your conversions, we’ve seen some websites see over 50% increase in conversions after going mobile friendly. And we’ve yet to see a website do worse after going mobile.
Even if your website still isn’t mobile friendly, you probably didn’t see much negative impact from Google’s mobile-friendly update. This might lead you to believe that you can continue to coast by with your current site. However, the longer you wait, the more business you will ultimately lose. And that’s no doomsday prophecy. Mobile search traffic continues to grow, and failing to go mobile friendly will result in you getting fewer of these visitors to your website. The mobile users who do come to your site will be less likely to convert. A mobile-friendly website may seem like an expensive and unnecessary cost right now, but it will lead to more traffic, more leads, and more sales in the future. It’s an investment, not just a quick solution to appease a search engine.