Google’s recent move to tweak its ranking algorithm should encourage companies that are still hesitating to make their websites more mobile user-friendly to embrace the change, given that this is now a major consumer expectation.
Spring 2015 marks the start of a new era for websites. Following the change to Google’s algorithm, companies will need to rethink their websites to take account of the mass market adoption and widespread use of smartphones and other mobile devices.
Since end-April, the ‘mobile friendliness’ of a website is one of the key criteria for its ranking for Google page-search purposes. Pages that are not ‘mobile optimised’ will appear lower down the list. The same will be true for Microsoft’s web search engine, Bing. This means that ensuring your site content is suitable for mobile devices is no longer just something to think about for the future, it is now an urgent necessity.
A recent survey carried out by BrightLocal, a London-based Search Engine Optimisation tool specialist, strongly indicates the need for mobile-friendly websites. Survey results reveal that 61% of those polled say they are more likely to contact a local business or store if it has a mobile-friendly site, a figure that has risen by 23 percentage points since 2013.
A ‘mobile responsive’ site is now a key customer expectation
In addition, the number of people who regularly browse for information on mobile devices has increased since the previous survey. Moreover, there has been a large drop in the percentage of people who have never accessed the website of a local firm via a mobile device – 23% in comparison with 39% in 2013.
Being able to easily browse the Web on a mobile device is the facility most appreciated by mobile users, with viewing dynamic mobile maps such as Google Maps (32%) and using mobile apps (27%) in second and third place. At a time when large numbers of brands and retailers are making efforts to develop mobile apps, these responses certainly put this trend into perspective. The poll results suggest that accessing the Internet from a mobile device has become a habit and a real desire on the part of users, rather than going through mobile apps to obtain information or services.
Browsing the Web on a mobile device is more popular than using mobile apps
With regard to the different sectors that users search on, restaurants/cafés, mass retail outlets and medical services providers are the top three. Some 58% of the mobile users polled want to be able to view the websites of restaurants and cafés on their mobile device, followed by general retail stores (32%) and medical practitioners (27%), mainly for doctors and dentists.