The reason why Google’s new mobile friendly feature will cause your website to loose traffic

Craig Hoggins
December 8, 2014
Marketing

What "mobile responsive" means

Helping users find mobile-friendly pages is high on Google's priority list. They ultimately want users to have a great experience and keep coming back to Google to find what they are looking for.
The reason why Google’s new mobile friendly feature will cause your website to loose traffic

On Tuesday the 18th of November 2014 Google posted on Webmaster Centrals Blog that they would be inserting a small bit of text on their Mobile Search Engine Results pages that would indicate to users that if they click on that result it would take them to a Mobile Friendly website. Non-mobile optimized websites will not mention anything of the sort.

When comparing a result which does not have the Mobile Friendly text compared to the competition who happens to be the listing below, whom do you think will get the click to their website? You're right, the competition will get the traffic. It doesn't matter if you own the very first position in Google organically, the number 2 position with a “mobile friendly” tag is more likely to get the click.

See the mobile-friendly tag in the image below:

Mobile Friendly tag on device


Why the sudden drop in traffic to my website?

Well, if you do have some high ranking keywords and your website is not mobile friendly you will start to see a significant drop in Mobile search traffic. Website design and development companies are going to be inundated with new enquiries to build new mobile-friendly websites for their clients. We are seeing this first hand right now. Any which way, commissioning a web design company to redo your website is bound to take a couple of weeks depending on their workload.

How do I check my mobile traffic in Google Analytics?

Step 1:

Login to your Google Analytics account and navigate to the Audience and click on the drop-down for “mobile”, then click on “overview”. Here you will see traffic from desktop, mobile and tablet devices.

Step 2:

Under the graph click on the little drop down to expose annotations. It is good practice to regularly make annotations for the dates that any major changes happen either to search engines or to things you might have changed on your website. This is also very useful especially if you run a radio ad or press release for example as you can see what the effects have been on your traffic and conversions. See the image below on how to add annotations.

Annotations on mobile traffic in Google Analytics


If you've been sitting on the fence for some time now and debating whether or not to have a mobile friendly website built then I strongly suggest you get off the fence and take action.

What are my options for mobile-friendly websites?

Option 1:

Design a mobile responsive website. What is a mobile responsive website? Basically, it’s designed in such a way with a specific programming language that allows the website to respond to the size of the screen a user is viewing it from. Elements of the site drop-down underneath each other, ultimately allowing for easy scrolling up and down without the need to scroll left and right or pinch to zoom in and drag in to zoom out. Read the Responsive web design explanation on Wikipedia.

Option 2:

A dedicated mobile website. This is a separate website to your main website and usually has a domain name like www.m.mybusiness.com or www.mybusiness.mobi. Your webmaster would put a snippet of code on your main website instructing the server to serve the mobi site if the visitor is coming from a specific screen resolution such as a mobile phone or tablet. These are your two options and if you are wondering which one to go for I would say it totally depends on your budget. There are pros and cons to both, however, I feel that having more control over your design with a dedicated mobile website is a much better option.

This allows you to have the most effective calls to action in the best place on a users screen. You’ve got to remember that the screen is really small on a mobile device so having the balance between the right amount of text and graphics is fundamental. The other major advantage of a dedicated mobile website is the load speed. If your site is responsive it will generally have large size images and would take a while to load but with the dedicated mobi site, it would already be designed and built with smaller size images making it much faster which is also extremely good for mobile SEO.

Start monitoring your traffic with the above tips and please let me know if you have seen a difference. This of course only if your site is not mobile friendly. I wouldn’t delay having a new website built though just to see your mobile traffic stats. Non-mobile friendly websites will eventually start losing organic rankings as the bounce rate is bound to be higher than the competition with mobile-friendly sites, and remember, Google wants to serve websites to their users with relevant content and good user experiences.

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