We all knew that sooner or later, mobile phones and tablets would dominate the way we interact online. We just weren’t sure exactly when. That time has now arrived and companies who don’t optimise their websites for mobile search soon, will very shortly be left in the dust of those forward thinking companies who have.

There are two key reasons why optimising your website for mobile search, or at the very least providing a good mobile site alternative, should be on the top of your marketing to-do-list.

Reason # 1 – Everyone has a smartphone!

Okay perhaps not absolutely everyone just yet – but we know of one 80 something year old lady, on state pension, who uses her simple smartphone to connect with her family and friends on Facebook and via email, as well as surf the net! If she’s doing it – you can bet millions of younger people aren’t far behind her!

Here’s a statistic that you won’t find on a Chappies wrapper and it will blow your mind (it did ours!).

Every day there are 1.2 million more Android devices activated worldwide than there are babies born. Fact[Tweet this]

With the US and Europe now considered ‘mature markets’, developing countries in Africa and Asia have more recently become hot targets for smart device (smartphones and tablets) manufacturers and distributors.  This article by Christopher Spillane of Bloomberg provides more detailed insight.

More and more people are using mobile devices to search for everyday products and services and make online purchases, in addition to the social interaction most of us are familiar with. In the near future, these online activities will take place more frequently on mobile devices than on desktop and laptop computers. The decreasing cost of mobile devices and data is driving this phenomenal shift.

Reason # 2 – Google will penalise development faults – soon

On June 11, Google announced a series of recommendations aimed at addressing faults in how mobile sites and mobile optimised websites are developed.

These come in line with several updates that Google is making to its mobile search algorithm. According to Google’s Search Quality Team, these changes will take place in a matter of months.

This does not give companies much time to correct their website development errors.

It’s all about the user experience

Google’s recent changes to its search algorithms (Panda and Penguin) have centred largely around enhancing the user experience and this has now extended from the standard desktop search to the mobile search sphere. In essence, your website or mobile site will be penalised by Google, if you are serving up a second-rate user experience.

You may know what your website looks like on your mobile device – but how does it appear to other people? To get a fairly good idea, we recommend that you use the Screenfly device emulator (if you have a mobi site type in your mobi address) to see how your website is appearing on cellphones, smartphones and tablet devices.

What constitutes a bad user experience?

According to Google the two primary offences include:

Faulty redirects – these occur when every  page from your website redirects to  the same mobile site landing page, or an entirely irrelevant mobile webpage.

Smartphone only errors – these are badly developed website pages that send smartphone users an error message (typically 404) instead of loading a webpage.

Additional offences include:

Image and Video Incompatibility – these are video’s that are exclusively viewable using Adobe Flash (not compatible with iOS or Android) and images that are too large to load quickly.

Unresponsive Website Design – these are cases where the company does not have a mobile site available, in which case the main website is referenced but is difficult to navigate as it does not adjust in size to the device viewing the site.

Device Incompatibility – whether a website or mobile site is being used – they should in either case be optimised for viewing across all major mobile device platforms including Android, iPhone, Windows Phone etc.

As internet enabled devices and search engine algorithms continue to evolve, the complexities around maintaining a functional online presence requires companies to constantly review and update their websites. Companies who fail to embrace these changes will find themselves losing business to their competitors.

There is simply no turning back. Mobile browsing is now as important, if not more important than desktop browsing. Cheap websites and bad development practices are no longer acceptable and can be damaging to a company’s reputation and bottom line. Success lies in fine tuning the creation of online experiences that users will enjoy and remember.

Do you need a professional assessment of your website or mobile site, or do you need help to design and develop a website your prospects and customers will love? Contact Garth Dahl or Shiraz Khatib on 021 556 5661 or email us: info@theformula.co.za

Our consultations are free and we’d love to help you find ways to make your business grow!

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