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More users are accessing your site from their mobile devices which means you need to provide them with a website experience that’s optimised for these devices. If you don’t, you’re not only chasing visitors away but your rankings might suffer as well. In addition, if your competitors have a mobile-optimised site, they will receive better signals over the Internet which Google will pick up on and, as a result, it will choose to promote your competitors’ sites instead of yours. And you don’t want that, do you?

The surprising mobile traffic increase has changed quite a bit in terms of user experience. A responsive design, meaning a page that works properly whether you access that URL with a desktop browser or a mobile browser, focuses on providing users with a better experience on a site. This results in more time spent on site, a lower bounce rate, better chances of being recommended online (mentioned, shared or linked to) which ultimately results in more sales. All these factors combined have the potential of improving a website’s ranks.

As Google’s Zero Moment of Truth ebook says, mobile is “not ‘the wave of the future’ any more — it’s right now”.

Let’s look at some stats…

  • A 2012 Google Smartphone User study revealed that 74% of smartphone shoppers make a purchase as a result of using their smartphones to help with shopping.
  • Another 2012 Google study on What Users Want Most From Mobile Sites Today showed that 75% of users prefer a mobile-friendly site and 61% of users said that if they didn’t find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site, they’d quickly move on to another site. (You probably wouldn’t want that to happen to you.)
  • Over 90% of mobile searches end in some type of action such as visiting a business or purchasing.

As you can see, being mobile-ready is extremely important.

Your wakeup call

Google confirmed the importance of mobile earlier this year on its Official Webmaster Central blog not only acknowledging the significant and fast growing segment of smartphone users that access the Internet, but also reinforcing the idea that all site owners need to work hard to provide their users with the best mobile experience. The blog post also explains how a bad implementation can affect the mobile search experience so make sure you get it right.

Offering a mobile optimised experience to your visitors is a key ranking factor for searches performed on mobile devices. Google have shown us various times in the past just how much they value and pay attention to the mobile web:

  • They already have bots that crawl sites as a mobile device.
  • They’ve stated that responsive “is Google’s recommended configuration”.
  • They use page load speed in rankings.
  • At the I / O Developer Conference, they impressed the crowd with a demonstration of Google Now.
  • They also created an awesome tool so you could get more stats and demographic info on mobile phone usage across the world.

So, optimising your site for mobile users is extremely important but what you need to keep in mind is that it does not refer only to the look, the structure and functionality of the site but also the content users (and Google) find on your site. Simply having a responsive design is not enough and will not guarantee higher rankings. So, this should be a huge wakeup call for those marketers who have not yet properly addressed their website’s mobile experience.

In conclusion

When it comes to mobile, if the content on your site serves its purpose and if your site performs well on all major devices, your rankings may increase. But if your site doesn’t offer a good mobile experience and your competitors have great responsive sites, Google is definitely going to take that into account and decrease your rankings in order to deliver sites that provide a better experience. Those would be your competitors’ sites you would be losing traffic and potential customers to.

So, consider yourself warned. Mobile-ready sites are making an impact and affecting your rankings, so you should address this right away, if you haven’t already. Just make sure you keep updated with user trends and adapt to provide your audience with the best experience on your site. Your competitors are already at work and you should be too if you don’t want to be left behind.

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