Mobile usage is growing – not only to surf the Internet, but also to check email, comment on social media sites and to shop. Almost everywhere you look lately there are people using their mobile devices for tasks that used to be done on desktops. Unfortunately most small businesses haven’t taken the steps to become mobile-friendly and capture their share of this market. Are you waiting because you don’t think it’s important yet? If so, here are some stats that might convince you how much mobile usage has grown:
- The number of mobile-cellular subscriptions worldwide is approaching the number of people on earth. Mobile-cellular subscriptions will reach almost 7 billion by end 2014, corresponding to a penetration rate of 96%.
- By 2017, the tablet and smartphone market share will grow to 87%.
- 47% of email is now opened on a mobile device.
- Half of all local searches are performed on mobile devices.
- 29% of mobile device users said their mobile phone is the first and last thing they look at every day.
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly you’re losing business.
There are two types of mobile-friendly websites
If you have an online business, you should have a mobile presence – whether a separate, mobile-only site or an all-in-one responsive site.
The mobile-only website is separate from your regular website. Special coding is added to detect the type of device your visitor is using and send them to the appropriate version. Often the mobile-only website is similar, but not identical, to your regular website.
The other type of mobile site is based on responsive design. It uses programming code to adjust the website to fit whatever size device the viewer is using. It doesn’t make the site smaller, but rather rearranges sections to fit the device – somewhat like building a tower with children’s building blocks. The site you’re using now is responsive. If you’re viewing it on a desktop or laptop, try reducing the size of your browser window by grabbing the edges and moving them inward. You’ll be able to see the site respond in real-time.
Responsive sites require less maintenance than a separate, mobile-only site
With a separate, mobile-only site every time you update you’ll need to update both versions of your website. And it needs to be carefully done, as Google penalizes duplicate content.
In contrast, with a responsive design you don’t have to build and host a separate mobile-only site or update two different sites or worry whether it will work correctly on the various mobile devices. So whether you update your site yourself or pay someone to do it, a responsive site requires less maintenance and is more cost effective.
Responsive sites are preferred by Google
The duplicate content issue is one reason Google prefers a responsive site over a separate, mobile-only site. It is also more efficient for their spiders to crawl, and for Google to index, one site rather than multiple versions of the same site.
Another reason they prefer a responsive site is because a ‘single URL for a piece of content makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content.’
Additionally load time is reduced when users don’t need to be redirected to the separate mobile-only site.
Although Google is only one of several search engines, over half of all searches – world wide – happen on Google. So it’s smart to keep them happy and other search engines will also be happy as a result.
Responsive sites make link sharing easier
Let’s say you have a separate, mobile-only site and one of your mobile visitors shared a page on Facebook. If one of their friends decided to check your link on their desktop computer they would see an odd looking page because it was optimized for a mobile device. This visitor may decide the link wasn’t worth their time and leave quickly. This is called a ‘bounce’ and will hurt your search engine ranking.
In contrast, when a visitor to your responsive site shared a page using their smartphone that page would look normal to both users – whether using a mobile device or a desktop computer.
Don’t think that might happen? Over half of social media sharing happens on a mobile device.
Don’t be left behind
With more people using mobile devices to go online, you need to cater to them or lose them to your competition. Do you remember when we thought a website was nice, but not necessary, for business? Now most businesses wouldn’t survive without a website. Mobile-friendly websites are the new necessity.
We’d love to hear your questions and comments about this article.