SuperTip #1: Make sure your site passes the Google Mobile Friendly test.
In 2015, Google did something pretty unusual.
They announced a major update and gave specific guidance and direction about the update.
In fact, they even built a tool to help people prepare for said update.
An algorithm update that explicitly gives priority ranking to websites that are declared “mobile-friendly.”
Mobile search has been on the rise for years and, now, more of Google’s searches are done on mobile devices than desktop devices in over 10 countries – including the United States.
Given how crucial search is to their > $40B bottom line, how people search is a metric they pay a lot of attention to.
Yet, despite the heads’ up, still more than 40% of Fortune 500 sites failed the test as of the roll-out date.
In our own study, which reviewed local businesses in Lansing, Michigan, we found that number to be north of 60%.
A detailed report of our research is available here for free download.
Can You Afford NOT To Be Optimized?
It used to be the case that business owners only had to worry about one or two (probably, local) competitors.
Today, though, many feel the pressure not only of local competitors, but shadowy, faceless competition from online businesses and software packages that promise to “disrupt” their industry, “teach trade secrets,” and make their business “obsolete.”
Meanwhile, services like Thumbtack, while they can be great for gathering reviews and demonstrating social proof, ultimately serve to commoditize local businesses, often compelling those business owners to drive customer traffic through price reductions and discounts, rather than engaging those customers in a more significant value-exchange.
Plus, they charge you to be on the platform!
With customers having access to more options and more information, it’s hard to stand out.
It’s A New Customer, Too.
The last time I went to buy a car? Even, the dealer already had the carfax out because so many people come in with their research already done. True to form, I myself had come in with data from truecar, which I intended to use as the basis for my negotiation.
And, when I went in, you better believe that I expected the dealer to defend his truth and expertise against my own research and data.
Heck, even doctors now have to deal with patients who come in telling them what treatment they need, because of what the patient had read on webmd.
The point is that today’s customer is informed. They do research before they walk in a store, pick up a phone, enter a live chat, send an email…etc.
(Of course, this also presents a huge marketing opportunity, but more on that another time.)
Either way, if they’re going to work with you – or even consider working with you – they will absolutely visit your website as part of their research.
Which brings me to my third point.
You Are Judged Quickly And (Imperceptibly) Ruthlessly
Oh, how the web has evolved since the nineties.
As software, social media, and the web has advanced, important design paradigms have started to emerge as “best practices,” not simply because of their aesthetics, but because thousands of people have spent millions of hours testing and architecting user experiences in order to understand how people interact in digital environments and optimizing those experiences to influence behavior.
Everthing from hue and font size to page load times has been – and will continue to be – studied.
Which means that before people even visit your site, they’re bringing with them – often in the back of their minds – the thousands of other sites they’ve visited in their lifetime and subconsciously comparing your site to those other ones.
And, if they don’t approve of your site, they bounce.
It’s even worse on mobile, where customers spend the vast majority of their time. In fact, more than 48% of people go so far as to assume that if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you don’t care about your business.
How’s that for rash judgement?
Now, we business owners know that there isn’t really a correlation between how much we care about our businesses and the quality of our websites. Many business owners have dated websites, not because they don’t care, but because it’s been hard for them to find reliable, affordable, responsive web developers. After all, we have a million other things to do, just to manage our businesses.
Still, the addition of new, technological pressures, the changing attitudes of consumers, and the perceptions they bring with them mean that we need to be thoughtful in our approach to driving new customers, if we want our businesses to flourish. Given the preeminence of mobile search and Google’s insistence on mobile-friendliness as a significant ranking factor, it seems that mobile is a good place to start.
Well, this isn’t so much a template, as it is a checklist of things that you should be thinking about, in order to have a site that’s optimized for mobile-friendliness. You can save or print it as a reference.
Head over to Google’s Mobile Friendly Test and put your website in it. Print or save the results to give you a reference point for how to think about mobile for your website.