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Web Presence Management: Mobile-Friendly Sites are More Important Than Ever

Google says mobile-friendly sites will have a “significant impact in our search results.” So if someone searches from a mobile device, and you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you may not show up anymore!

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BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce development, apprenticeships, marketing and Web presence management with SkillsUSA, the I-CAR Education Foundation, Mentors at Work, VeriFacts Automotive and the NABC. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, SEO services and social media management services.

How many of you remember the 1970s TV commercial for the stock brokerage firm E.F. Hutton? In a busy restaurant, an actor says to the person across the table from him, “My broker is E.F. Hutton, and E.F. Hutton says…” As he says that, everyone in the room drops what they were doing, stops talking and leans in to listen to what E.F. Hutton has to say. The narrator then says the tagline, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

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The message of this commercial was that E.F. Hutton’s reputation demanded that much respect. So, multiply that times a few billion when Google speaks. And speak they have – about the importance of having a mobile-friendly version of your website.

Ranking Better

The percentage of searches being done from mobile devices on Google has now topped 60 percent, and Google owns 87.1 percent of the U.S.’s mobile search market share. So Google figures it would be better to recommend you check out mobile-friendly websites in the search results they provide you if you’re searching from a mobile device. And yes, they can tell exactly what kind of device you’re using.

Starting April 21st, mobile-friendly sites will start to rank better on Google than other sites that may be better optimized for PC searches but are not mobile-friendly.

Using Google’s own words from their recent announcement, “We will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

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Mobile-friendly sites will have a “significant impact in our search results.” That should really get your attention. It means that you might be ranking well when people search for the services you provide from their PCs, and ranking reports you may have received measure only that. But if someone searches from a mobile device, and you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you may not show up anymore! If you don’t show up, you won’t get that customer or any others who may search for your services from a mobile device today, tomorrow, next week, next month, etc.

What Does It Mean?

What does mobile-friendly mean? It means that your website needs to adjust to the devices that land on it, providing a view that’s much easier to see on smaller screens. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you likely have to pinch the screen on a mobile phone to enlarge it so you can actually read the tiny text, and scroll right and left to read the entire screen. How can you determine whether your website is mobile-friendly? Besides checking it with your own phone, you can also see how Google sees it by clicking on this link: www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly.

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In addition, if you use certain apps on your phone that provide you with access to local businesses and are signed in to those apps, Google says it will begin to use information from apps they’re able to index. This means they can read the content on these apps, and they’ll consider these apps as a factor in rankings as well. The content will have to match your search query, of course, but this is an important update as well, and app developers must be thrilled.

Is It Hard?

Is it hard to create a mobile-friendly version of a website? Not really. If your developer uses something called responsive design, your website will automatically adjust the resolution of the screen to whatever size device you’re using. It will look different on a PC than it does on a tablet or iPad, and a mobile version will look even more different. A responsive design site has its drawbacks; for example, the smaller the screen, the more vertical scrolling you’ll have to do. But it’s still better than not having a mobile-friendly site. Take a look at these examples of the responsive design of the Big Sky Collision Center site, located at www.bigskycol.com. Take a firsthand look at them for yourself on a PC and mobile phone:
Optima Automotive can create a companion mobile site that’s tied directly to the core WordPress site we build. Since the public only views an average of 1.7 pages on an auto body shop website, we take this to heart and put all the hot buttons on the screen that comes up so visitors don’t have to scroll. Everything is on the page they land on, and visitors are just a tap away from placing a call to the shop, getting directions or requesting an estimate or appointment. Here’s an example from Montrose Auto Body in Colorado:

Being mobile- friendly with your website is not just recommended anymore, it’s essential. Is your site mobile-friendly?

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