There are two types of mobile websites – the ones that exist and the ones that exist for potential customers. How do you tell the difference?
Why does a mobile site matter?
Like we tell our web clients all the time, it’s not enough to just be online anymore. As recently as a couple of years back, conventional wisdom for most small businesses said that they needed a website. The vast majority of small businesses recognized the necessity for an online presence and worked to put a checkmark by that necessity.
But Google upped the ante on everyone. Now that most everyone can figure out how to get a website, Google is flooded with over a billion websites. Because of that, search engines have had to get much more particular about the websites they favor when it comes to ranking.
Google estimates that almost 60% of searches take place on a mobile device. That means that businesses that are playing the mobile game correctly will be favored by search engines. Those that don’t will have the search engine door slammed in their face.
How to play the mobile website game
A “responsive” website is a website that renders properly on a mobile device. Many older sites don’t display correctly on mobile devices. The entire page is displayed and the user has to expand the page significantly and go side to side to read the information. If you have a site like this, Google is not impressed.
The first step to having search engines take you seriously is to have a responsive (or “mobile-friendly”) website. But that is not enough…
Pleasing Google is only half the battle. Google doesn’t buy your products and services, so you have to extend equal attention to your potential customer. What do THEY want from your mobile presence?
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Your customers’ mobile experience
When deciding how to configure the information on your mobile website, the very first thing you need to ask yourself is “who is my customer?” and “what do they need from me in three seconds or less?”
These questions may seem a bit daunting, but we work with our clients all the time to answer these two fundamental questions. If you break it down, it becomes a lot easier to answer these questions. Here are a few considerations to reflect on as you try to answer these two most important questions:
- Who is my customer? If you are like many small businesses, you probably have customers that fall into several categories. It’s worth taking the time to sketch out a profile for each type of customer and list things like search behavior, what type of device do they search on, do they need information quickly or do they have staff that can do some legwork for them when it comes to research?
- What kind of services do your customers use the most? Think of it this way. Let’s say you have a tree removal service. You will likely have two types of customers – project customers and panicked customers. Whenever you are dealing with customers in crisis, you’ll want emergency contact info right at the top of the page. If someone has a tree fall on the neighbor’s car during a hurricane, they are not going to want to read through all the information on your site. They are going to want to click on “emergency tree removal” from their Smartphone.
- Does your site load quickly? Nothing will turn off potential customers (regardless of their buying habits) AND search engines faster than a clunky load time. If your website takes over a second to load, you can wave bye-bye to a potential client and to search engine ranking.
- How is my information structured? Information architecture is vitally important on a mobile site, and this is where we circle back to those customer profiles. Is your site an educational one? Then lots of content and navigation may be appropriate. Are you in an industry where consumer confidence and trust is crucial (think lawyers or construction companies)? Then you’ll want social proof – testimonials and reviews — immediately available to mobile users. Are you a hairstylist or a house painter? Maybe images of your work is one of the first things a potential customer is looking for on your mobile website. Do you offer a widely available product at a much better price than your competitors? This is the kind of information you want to present to your potential customer in three seconds or less.
Not surprisingly, catering to your potential customer also gets Google’s attention. With the internet being an incredibly competitive landscape, Google favors user experience. If your mobile website is getting visitors what they want, when they want it, on a well-oiled website, you’ll get a wink from Google.
Small Business: Are websites worth the investment?
Who knew so much thought went into a mobile presence? When done right, a strong mobile website is a winning proposition all the way around. Google gets what it wants, your customers get what they want, and ultimately because your customers are happy, so is your business’s bottom line.