In 2010, Mashable reported that Morgan Stanley issued an 87-page report declaring, "the mobile web will be bigger than desktop Internet use by 2015." Fast forward to 2015, and that's exactly where we are - mobile web really rules.
So what does that mean for your business, and how it ranks on Google? If you haven't thought about it, it's time to. Well past time, actually. Here's why:
According to comScore's most recent study, by March 2015 "the number of mobile-only adult Internet users exceeded the number of desktop-only internet users." Which explains why Google thought it smart to tweak its search algorithm to favor mobile-friendly sites in search.
That announcement in April triggered what became known as "mobilegeddon," "mobilepocalyse," "mopocalypse" or "mobocalypse" - depending on who you ask. Because change is hard.
Of course, "Just because Google carries out an update does not necessarily mean that we have to bend to its will." This is a valid point by Searchmetrics, but if you want a snowball's chance at appearing in Google search, you've got to get on board with one of these mobile-friendly choices:
Responsive Web Design (RWD). Google's preferred option resizes existing site components based on the device calling on the code. This can make it slow if not optimized well.
Adaptive Web Design (AWD). SitePoint explains that AWD works by, "making decisions on the server that determine what should and shouldn't be sent to the user, so that nothing is sent that will not be used." This makes it faster than RWD. But it does mean more coding.
M.dot or dedicated mobile site. This is a separate website optimized specifically for mobile - which is great. Except it leaves you with two sites to manage. Some predict m.dot is on its way out of vogue.
Each of these options has its pros and cons, so you've got to weigh them for your business and see which makes sense for you. Just know that you can't afford to do NOTHING any longer.
Mobile-friendly isn't the ballgame
A mobile-friendly website is admission to the ballpark. That's all. If you want to be named MVP you've still got to swing for the fences, and run hard - just as you always have. The difference now is you need to focus specifically on mobile factors. Here are some you may not have thought of:
Redirecting mobile traffic to your mobile website. UK retailer Next found out the hard way that this matters, according to Elvin Web Marketing. Though they had a mobile-friendly website, the lack of an automatic redirect hurt them: "As a result of this significant oversite, Google deemed the website as "Not Mobile Friendly", pushing it down the mobile search pages."
Optimizing your user experience. Search Engine Watch says, "Google is using more UX related factors in search rankings generally, and a good user experience is perhaps even more vital for mobile sites, given smaller screen sizes and variable mobile internet signals."
Local search. This is a big one. Search Engine Land reports, "According to BrightLocal's Local Consumer Review Survey 2014, 92% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in 2014. And that number is likely growing - a recent Google report noted that Google searches containing 'near me' have increased 34X since 2011."
Bounce rate. "Not everyone in SEO agrees bounce rate matters," says Backlinko,"but it may be a way of Google to use their users as quality testers (pages where people quickly bounce is probably not very good).
Compare mobile keywords to desktop. Searchmetrics offers a way to see how you rank for each - then you can decide "which content to optimize to maximize your traffic."
And of course, Google itself offers tips for getting you the rankings you want. "Use the Mobile Search Engine Optimization guide to help your site show up in search results."
Certainly there are even more ranking factors in Google's bag of tricks, but these are some you might not realize make a difference. They do - at least for now. Google never rests, but until they announce their next update, do what you can to keep your website at the top of the mobile search pile.
IMAGE CREDIT: PETER MORVILLE