92% of searchers will pick businesses on the first page of local search.
Thinking about how potential customers use technology to find goods or services you offer is crucial for your Connecticut small business.
This is especially true when it comes to the exponential growth of smartphone usage when it comes to online searches. This growth has only applied the need for your website to be visible AND usable on a smartphone. Baically, this means you have to ensure you have a mobile-responsive business website.
Visitors to a mobile-optimized site will see a user-friendly platform whether they’re using a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
According to the device they’re using, the website will adapt – to give them the best scanning, browsing, reading, and interactive experience.
Rise of the Smartphone
Originally seen as expensive new toys, smartphones quickly became part of everyday life, and in 2009 their use mushroomed.
Until mid-2019, mobile and desktop online searches were more or less neck and neck, but then mobile web browsing really began to take off.
By June 2019, mobiles were being used for more than half of searches. Market observers predict that desktop searches are likely to continue to decline. Think about how you use your phone these days, texting, emailing, playing games, and searching for stuff. Maybe you are looking for a product nearby or someone to provide a service, those minutes in a waiting room, online, or grabbing a quick meal, suddenly turn your phone into an indispensable research tool.
All this makes a mobile-optimized website essential for any small business to connect with as many prospective customers as possible – and stay fully engaged with existing customers who may give you more business.
88% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone call or visit a store within a day.
What is a Mobile-Friendly Website?
We’ll let Google answer this question. As the world’s largest search engine, they should know what they’re talking about!
According to Google, a mobile-responsive site meets the following criteria:
- Uses software commonly found on phones – which rules out Adobe Flash Player.
- Has text you can read without zooming in.
- Automatically adjusts content, so you don’t have to rotate your screen.
- Has links far enough apart, so it’s easy to click the one you want.
So far, so good, but how do you find out whether your site is mobile friendly.
Is Your Site, Mobile-Responsive?
You can get a fairly good idea of whether your site is mobile-friendly by viewing it from a user’s perspective. Pull out your mobile phone and use the browser on it to look at your website and answer these questions:
- Is it easy to read?
- Is it easy to navigate?
- How about clicking on menus and buttons?
- How quickly does it load the first page…and any other pages?
If you struggle with these things, so will your prospective customers – and they’re likely to give up on you and look elsewhere for whatever they need. Any kind of friction in the online browsing experience – and this can be a slow website to one that is hard to read or navigate on a phone – will almost surely
Getting Help from Google
You can get technical assessments of whether your site is mobile-compatible from Google resources such as the Mobile-Friendly Test.
This will give you a detailed explanation of:
- How easily people can tap, swipe, and navigate your website on their smartphone or tablet.
- How quickly your page loads on a mobile device.
- How quickly your site loads on desktops.
If you want to take it a bit further, I highly recommend this blog entry from Neil Patel about improving your site’s mobile experience.
61% of mobile searches are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly site.
SEO Problems if Your Site Isn’t Mobile-Friendly
Frustrated visitors who abandon your online platform aren’t the only issue if your website isn’t mobile-responsive. It can also impact SEO (search engine optimization) significantly. In April of 2015, Google started to insist that every website offer a mobile-optimized option, and not having one could result in a penalty resulting in lower search rankings.
Because Google strives to give its users a good experience, it now insists that websites be mobile-responsive and rank sites based on the mobile version instead of the desktop.
This Mobile-First Indexing was announced in 2018. It means Google will look favorably on your site if it’s mobile-friendly and penalize it in search results pages if it isn’t.
The result has been a hefty reduction in traffic for non-mobile-responsive sites as they plummet down the Google listings due to poor SEO rankings.
Why a mobile-compatible site is crucial for local businesses
The importance to local businesses of a site well optimized for mobile users – and search engines – is underlined by a 2020 State of Marketing Report by HubSpot, the marketing, sales, and customer service software company.
The report concluded that:
- Almost 46 percent of Google searches are looking for local information.
- Nearly 90 percent of potential customers looking for local goods or services on their smartphone contact a business within 24 hours.
- If your site is mobile-responsive, over 60 percent of mobile searchers are more likely to contact you.
How to Optimize Your Website for Mobiles
With half of your website visitors likely to be seeing your online business platform on the smaller screen of a phone, it’s critical to give them a good experience.
How you ensure your site works as well for mobile users as it does on desktops depends on who built your site and what they used to build it.
If you’re using a site-building service like Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly, your site should be mobile-optimized out of the box.
However, sometimes they don’t do a good job of converting the desktop version into a mobile-friendly experience. Menus, headings, and images can end up in the wrong places, and blocks of text may overlap. You should be able to work within their content management system (CMS) to address these issues.
If you use WordPress and you have an older site, you can generally install plugins from your site’s administration panel to make it mobile-friendly. Though if that’s an option you are looking at, then the next section of this post is really for you.
Do You Need to Upgrade Your Site?
These days, most sites are built to be mobile-optimized. If your site was built in the last few years, it should be good to go.
You can also talk to your website developer – or whoever helped you build your site – about ensuring mobile compatibility.
Older sites may not have the coding for mobile compatibility, and you may need to think about an upgrade – updating the whole platform and relaunching it to ensure mobile responsiveness. This also allows you to fix many other problems that may have developed, such as dated content and broken links.
All websites built by The Research Department include mobile-friendly versions.
Need Help to Optimize Your Site for Mobiles?
If your website isn’t mobile-optimized, Google penalties will make it extremely difficult for prospective customers to find you online. And if they do, they’re not likely to hang around long because of a bad user experience.
This double blow could be devastating for small businesses, bearing in mind the continuing popularity of mobile devices – estimates predict 17.7 billion in use worldwide by 2024.
Feel free to contact us if you need help optimizing your website for mobiles.
78% of location-based mobile searches (e.g. winter coats Guilford ct) result in an offline purchase.