You may have heard about Google’s announcement this year that it has updated its search algorithms to favor “mobile friendly” websites. What does this mean, and why does it matter to Santa Rosa business owners?
In a nutshell, Google is trying to lead website development in the direction it thinks the market is going. In this case, the search engine giant is responding to statistics that now show more than 51% of all search traffic is conducted on mobile devices.
So, what is a “mobile friendly” website (one with “responsive design”), and why should you have one?
Let’s answer the second question first. According to Google, 94% of Americans with smartphones search for local information on their devices. A more compelling point is that 77% of mobile searches occur at places where desktop computers are likely to be present—at home or at work.
But, as a business owner, the most important reason is this: Google announced that it will begin downgrading sites in local searches that do NOT meet its new requirements. So what are they?
Google issued three criteria, including “make it easy for customers” and “measure the effectiveness of your site” by how easily customers can complete common tasks when using mobile. The hard-coded requirement, however, is to use responsive design. This means that the content “responds” to the device platform and sizes itself accordingly so it is easy to read and navigate. No more “out-pinching” a postage stamp-sized site to make it readable.
But the changeover is going to take time. A 2014 survey by Hibu found that only 6% of small businesses had a mobile-friendly site. Even among large businesses, 44% of Fortune 500 websites were found not to be mobile friendly in a study by Pure Oxygen Labs.
Is responsive design for you? Probably yes, if you have any interest in a prominent search ranking. Definitely yes if you want to attract business while people are on the go.