How to Avoid Mobile Website Meltdown on April 21…and Beyond

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How to Avoid Mobile Website Meltdown on April 21…and Beyond

April 16, 2015
Ted Faigle
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It’s almost here! I’m calling it Mobile Meltdown Day. April 21 is the date that Google will lower your web page rankings if your site is not deemed by them to be mobile friendly.  Some big brands and lots of smaller businesses may wake up to a surprise on April 22 unless you take action now. Google announced this change in a blog post on February 26. It may only impact your mobile search rankings for now, but there is widespread speculation that it may also affect desktop search rankings later.

What are Google's goals?

Google isn’t making this change just to make work for your business. More and more of your and Google’s customers are shifting their time and attention to mobile devices to search for information and interact in email and social media. As Google wants to maintain their dominant market share for search, they have some goals they are trying to achieve with this change:

  • Have a better mobile search experience for their users
  • Give their users exactly the information they are looking for in the most usable format
  • Make money – they will be seeking to expose apps and media in search results on mobile devices

Why is this important to your customers, not just Google?

In a July 2012 study conducted by market research firms Sterling Research and SmithGeiger for Google they found:

  • 67% of smartphone users say a mobile-friendly site makes them more likely to buy a company’s product or service, and 74% say they’re more likely to return to the site later
  • 61% say that if they don’t find what they’re looking for (probably within about five seconds), they’ll click away to another site. Half say that even if they like a business, they’ll use its site less often if it doesn’t work well on their smartphone
  • 72% of users say a mobile-friendly site is important to them

How do you know if you are at risk?

  1. Look at your website on a smartphone. Does it appear cut off on the screen? Do you have to scroll left or right? Is the text so small that you have to pinch and zoom to read anything?
  2. Run the Google Mobile-Friendly Test by entering your URL.

What can you do?

Chances are good that if you have not updated your web site in the past few years, you are at risk.

If your website is based on WordPress, you can convert to a responsive theme that will detect and adapt the display for different types of mobile devices.  Look for a responsive theme that enables you to follow mobile design best practices.

Here is my top ten list of mobile best practices:

  • Do not require any scrolling right or left
  • Make it easy to find your location and operating hours
  • Use bigger buttons
  • Enable finding important information in one or two clicks
  • Create a simple home page with a short menu
  • Highlight your site search so customers can quickly find information on your site
  • Add a click to call button
  • Simplify data entry for forms and minimize typing – use drop downs and choices to select
  • Don’t require customers to pinch to zoom to be able to read the text on your page
  • Keep the user in a single browser window

Are you ready for Mobile Meltdown Day? Have you tested your company’s web site? Have you at a minimum put an action plan in place to become compliant with Google’s mobile friendly policies?

Are there other mobile best practices that you have identified?  Please share in comments so we all benefit.

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