Melbourne, AU. For immediate release.
Following Google’s announcement that it will be favouring mobile-friendly web sites in mobile searches from 21 April 2015, many small businesses are suddenly panicking that their web site is suddenly going to fall off Google. The reason Google has decided to make this major change to its algorithm is believed to be in order to provide a better browsing experience for mobile users. By favouring mobile-friendly web sites in mobile searches, the visitors to those sites are more likely to stay on the site and have a good experience. They are more likely to be able to find what they are looking for, easily, and are less likely to go back to Google and visit another site. A mobile-friendly web site is one that is designed with mobile users in mind. Most web sites, when viewed on a mobile device like a cell phone, have small text, tiny links and the user often has to turn the device sideways to view the content even remotely well. This can be very frustrating. So from November 18, 2014, Google added a “mobile friendly” label to its mobile searches. According to Google , a page is considered mobile friendly if it: – Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash – Uses text that is readable without zooming – Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom – Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
Google has provided a mobile-friendly test to check whether a web page meets these criteria. If a web site is found not to be mobile-friendly, there is a good chance that from 22 April 2015, it will see a sudden drop in visitors. According to a recent post by Smart Insights around 48% of people looking for a buyers or service start their research on a search engine like Google. And more than half are doing this on a mobile device.
However, the conversion rate of mobile searches (that is, how many of the people searching actually go on to buy), is much lower with mobile devices. This is believed to be partly due to the difficulty people have in actually using non-mobile-friendly web sites on their mobile device. They give up and look elsewhere.
The Google change to search engine results on a mobile device is set to change that. By favouring mobile-friendly sites in mobile searches, visitors will get a much better online experience in their browsing, and be more likely to buy.
Small business owners are now faced with a decision, if their web sites are not mobile friendly. Many will not mind, because their analysis (using a tool such as Google Analytics) has shown that they don’t get many visitors via mobile devices anyway.
But for most small businesses, with a faced with a non-mobile-friendly web site and plenty of mobile device visitors, there are a few options.
One would be to create a whole new web site. Many web sites are what is called “responsive”, which means the layout changes to suit the device they are viewed on. A web site can be built from scratch to use a responsive layout (also known as a “theme”), or the layout can be changed to make it responsive. This sort of major change is often beyond the technical ability of small business owners, so professional help is needed from a web site builder who understands responsive design.
Another option is to create a second web site. Some HTML code is added to the main web site that tells the visitor’s device that a mobile version is available, and the visitor is redirected to a mobile-friendly site if they are on a mobile device like a cell phone. The second site is completely stand-alone, and needs to be built from scratch. It is a good option if the original site is out-of-date, or has a lot of information that the mobile visitor doesn’t need to be presented with. However, the information on it needs to be kept updated separately, and often the system used by a web site builder to create a mobile site is not easily accessible so the business owner can do this themselves.
The third, very popular, option is to create a mobile site that is a copy of the existing site. Using software that monitors changes in the original site, it is kept updated automatically. If something changes on the original site, it will be changed on the mobile site as well. As with the previous solution, the mobile device user is sent to the mobile version using some HTML code, which is the only thing that needs to be added to the original site.
Companies that build web sites, including mobile web sites, have been inundated recently with queries from small business owners who are frantic because they rely so heavily on mobile traffic. If they don’t get their site mobile-ready by April 21, they will lose a lot of sales starting on April 22.
Christine F. Abela from Gecko Gully Web Sites, a web site builder, marketing consultant and programmer with 35 years’ experience in the field, has been advising her clients for several years to upgrade to mobile-friendly sites, using WordPress.
“WordPress has a huge range of themes available”, says Abela. “Many are not responsive, but there are a lot that are. By changing to WordPress, or changing themes within WordPress, site owners can ensure they have a mobile-ready site by 21 April.”
“However,” Abela says. “Changing themes or building a whole new web site is a costly, time-consuming process. Not everyone can do it. That is why Gecko Gully is also offering to build parallel mobile sites, which automatically update when the desktop site is updated. These can be built quickly and without a major outlay. There is even a $1 trial offer available so that business owners can see what their web site might look like on a mobile device after the conversion.” Gecko Gully has created a blog post explaining the changes, and is happy to answer queries from business owners concerned about them. By preparing their web site for the Google changes coming on April 21, business owners can avoid being left off mobile searches, and avoid a potentially huge drop in traffic.