Well, Google finally did it.
They said they were gonna and yesterday they threw the switch on mobile. After warning webmasters in January and providing tools within Google Webmaster Tools for monitoring your mobile health, Google brought the sword of Damocles down on sites that aren’t mobile-ready.
If your site isn’t mobile-ready, today is Mobilegeddon. Your site effectively disappears from search results and your organic search traffic dries up.
Doing mobile the old way — mobile last or having a separate mobile site is also gonna cost you. Big time.
So, how do you survive mobilegeddon?
Let’s take a look at some changes you need to make.
Surviving (and flourishing) mobilegeddon
Obviously, you need a responsive site that scales to any screen size. Then, check your site to ensure it meets Google’s standard for mobile-readiness. You’ll also find important information about the mobile health of your site within Google Webmaster Tools. BTW, it’s a good idea to check your mobile health periodically to ensure you remain compliant.
That’ll get you past the initial hurdle posed by mobilegeddon. But, not all responsive sites are equal, so, if you’re using a theme for WordPress or Drupal rather than a custom-coded site, make sure the site looks great on mobile and contains the right content. Some responsive sites only display your blog, while others do a good job rendering your homepage properly on all mobile devices.
Screenfly is an easy and free tool for testing out your site on multiple devices. Here’s what Hausman Marketing Letter looks like on an iPhone, for instance:
And, don’t just create an app rather than put in the time and effort needed to craft a killer responsive website that looks great on mobile. Now, Moz disagrees with me, but then, they’re a SEO firm and don’t know marketing. They’re just commenting on the SEO impact of having a mobile app.
From a marketing standpoint, users are already drowning in a sea of apps and the hurdle to get them to download one more app just isn’t a good use of your budget. And, even after they download, you still have an uphill battle getting folks to USE you app, especially if the app doesn’t provide enhanced functionality over your website.
For instance, I continue to find the Macy’s app totally frustrating and I don’t know why I keep it on my phone — inertial, I guess. The app wastes too much effort trying to entice me to buy online and is missing the biggest functionality tools.
Here’s an example. Every time I go to a Macy’s store, I see folks saving tons of money with coupons. I frantically search my app trying to find these elusive coupons to no avail. You’re telling me I still need to carry a stack of coupons if I want the deals at Macy’s. No thanks. Macy’s has such a high piss-off quotient because of this practice that I normally don’t shop there anymore.
Beyond responsive design
Surviving mobilegeddon is more than just having a mobile responsive design.
Test out the user experience. Here are some things to look for:
- Is the text readable without pinching to enlarge it?
- Do columns translate easily into rows when displayed on mobile
- Are links far enough apart to function seamlessly or will users accidentally select the wrong link
- Do designs take full advantage of the available screen size or is there an awkwardness as the screen size shrinks
For now, according to Moz, Google won’t penalize websites that automatically redirect users to a mobile site when they enter the URL for the full site. For my money, I think it’s worth spending the time and money to create a mobile-friendly website using responsive design. Even though you won’t get a Google penalty, yet, for a mobile site, you’ll generate a better user experience if both mobile and desktop version retain the same look and feel.
Content marketing on mobile
People on mobile devices aren’t looking for the same content as folks using a desktop.[Tweet “People on mobile devices aren’t look for the same content!”] They’re on the move and they have this tiny, little screen.
Sure, I know about Connected Consumers who watch TV with their mobile burning a hole in their laps, but most folks using mobile want something different from your site.
Display content I want on the move
So, what AM I looking for on a mobile device. Address. That’s really the most common thing I want when I bring up your site on my phone. I want to plug your address into my GPS or find your location hours. So, give them to me fast and easily. Use my phone’s location to pop up something telling me where the closest location is and what the hours are. Give me their phone number so I can call. I’m probably not shopping on my phone, so don’t focus on selling on mobile. Now, usage might change as more folks shift from laptops to tablets, but I don’t think phones will ever be your first choice for online shopping.
Don’t overload small screen sizes
One of my clients is getting ready to launch a product, hexsee, with both a desktop and mobile versions. We totally scrapped our initial ideas when we realized they didn’t translate to the mobile environment well. So, instead of having a dashboard with all sorts of great functionality, we stripped the dashboard down to essentials and implemented it as a command bar at the bottom of the screen. We also recognize that folks on mobile aren’t going to use the product in the same way. The product, which creates private layers allowing invited users to leave comments right over live content, is too graphics rich — with tokens and pinned comments. Users will most likely reserve their adventures to tablets and computers, rather than their phone. The phone, however, will be used extensively when users want to buy the product in a store because the entire journal chronically the conversation is ready to take along.
Logging in is also frustrating on a mobile device. Entering all those special characters that make your password secure are simply a pain on a mobile device where you have to shift between various keyboards to display all the character options. For that matter, Google’s choice to use + when posting a call-out to another users on Google+ was just plain dumb. On my Android device, I have to go through 3 keyboards — my alpha, my numeric, then to characters — just to enter the + sign. Consider letting users log in using authentication from social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Most of us are already logged in to these apps, so it’s quick and easy to use that login for your website.
Yes, I know using authentication limits your ability to reach out to me again, but requiring login on mobile may just kill your visits. In my experience, it’s more important to build traffic than your contact list — just my $.02.
If you must require a unique login for your site, consider defaulting to keeping the person logged in rather than require re-login each time the site is accessed. Most of us have some type of security on our phones through a password or biomechanical login, like a thumbprint, so we’re not as concerned about security. Plus, you should allow me to opt out and be logged out each time I close your site.
Please let me pay for my purchases using my phone.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked away from buying something because I didn’t have cash or a credit card on me.
I always have my phone with me, but I often leave my credit cards in my purse — which now weights close to a thousand pounds and only gets dragged in when it contains my tablet and is needed for a meeting. Even DC Metro, the stodgiest of stodgy businesses, is considering letting folks use their phones instead of a separate metro card to access bus and train service. Again, I always have my phone — usually in my hand.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of Hausman Marketing Letter, is a full service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media.