April 21, 2015 – New Search Ranking Rules Favor Mobile Responsive Sites
Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.
Read the whole Google announcement.
You can test your site(s) on a Google test page : Mobile-Friendly Test
BTW – I’ve written earlier on this topic: Are Businesses in My Hometown Mobile Ready?
In earlier postings ((“Are Businesses in My Hometown Mobile Ready?” and “Is Your Business Website Missing the Boat on Smartphones?“)) I have pointed out what must now be a commonplace bit of knowledge about how customers are behaving – well over 50% in the US are using their smart phones as a primary tool to access the Web.
A recent article, “How Mobile-First Became Mobile-Only in the Emerging World” by Alec Oxenford, Co-Founder and CEO, OLX raises the interesting point that we need to move away from starting our web development work with the desktop as the target and start with the smart phone. Instead of adapting the sprawl of the desktop to the confines of an iPhone or Android device, start from the mind set that most of our customers are reaching us via that screen, not the desktop.
This will lead to some very different conclusions about what information should appear where. For example, for a retail business, how easy is it on a smart phone for your customers to find out where you are located, what your hours are and what your telephone number is? How many pinches, scrolls, and menu taps are required? Since this is such fundamental information this should be on the first screen they see.
The use of smart phones in the US is reaching 70% of all cell phones.
In the target market of most Hudson businesses the percentage is doubtless nearing ubiquity. Yet, even a brief survey of Hudson businesses on my iPhone (if you are an Android user try this out on your device of choice) shows that very few are mobile ready. When people visit us they are using smart phones to find information. We need to provide them with smart phone experiences that will encourage them to come to our businesses. Most of our Hudson websites look like a completely worn out sign where the name of the business is barely legible – leaves the impression that maybe we aren’t in business.
What Does Mobile Ready Mean?
If you go to a website on your mobile device and you have to pinch and drag to find things on the site, you are not on a mobile ready site. To see a mobile ready site pick up your smartphone and go to:
You will notice that basic information, location, hours, telephone number, are right at hand, The text is easily readable. Navigation is obvious and easy. In most cases, if you touch a telephone number the phone will automatically dial it. Now go to the business of your choice on your mobile device and see what you find.
Getting Mobile Ready
The good news is that mobile ready sites are not hard to create. If you are running a WordPress site, there are responsive themes that do a good job and there are plugins – I use WPTouch Pro 3.
If you are using a template driven site like those on Square Space you need to go back and choose a mobile ready theme. They have them. Finally, there are web companies that will reconfigure your site on the fly when a smartphone user comes a knocking. All of this should cost you from $50 to $250 or so depending on your solution.
BTW – one fun smart phone user factoid: 75% take them with them to the bathroom.
Even a casual survey of small business websites reveals the painful fact that many, if not most, are still not mobile friendly. Websites appear that require extensive finger gymnastics to uncover basic information, where is the business located, what are its hours, what kind of services does it offer. Continue reading
This image ((Turns out that this image has “gone viral” on the Web. Nevertheless, its source is in fact a Web marketing firm, Three Ships Media. The story of how and why they created this social media chart is here)) came to me via a photographer friend of my wife. This is clever in a charming way to think of social media though I definitely part company with the description of Google +.
I found this graphic from Social Strand Media that does a better job of describing a wider range of social media.
Once you get beyond the simplicity of the presentation and get over the simplifications, or, in some cases, errors in characterization of social media, these reveal an interesting opportunity to shape a strategy that is particular to your business. Keep in mind that the social media sites mentioned here are really just the tip of a vast universe of niche specialty social media sites. If you are a winery, there are social media sites where oenophiles hang out. Does your business involve native species of perennial flowers in the upper midwest? There are social websites for virtually every slice of interests. If you can’t find one that suits you, start one yourself. Open source social website software like BuddyPress is simple to set up. Web marketing is not necessarily big budget, just long on thinking and involvement.
So, the web marketing challenge here is to identify your customer base(s) and get involved with them. Keep in mind you need to drop the old pushy sales and marketing approaches and get engaged to share your knowledge and enthusiasms. Web marketing is engagement and sharing not pushing messages. Sales will follow.