i-phone used for mobile search

Mobile Search Matters

The presence of mobile search is undeniable.

When you head out into the world each day, how many people do you see on their smartphone in the first few hours? Your answer to this question is most likely in the hundreds. When most people leave the house they double check to make sure they have their keys, wallet and their beloved phone. Personally, if for some reason I forget my phone, there is an initial panic that cools down to a worry filled with irrational fears flowing through my head like is it lost in the woods alone and hungry? Or is it cold and wet in a sewer somewhere possibly? This is just how much our mobile devices are becoming a part of our life. If we want to look something up, check our calendars or call someone we reach for our phones automatically. We are even to the point now that most of us choose to surf the web on our smartphones and tablets even when we are home on the couch, just a few feet away from the computer.

What is your business doing to address mobile search?

This is why it is so important for brands to have mobile sites and pay attention to their target market’s behavior. These changes are just making it easier to get stuck in time and are worth investing effort in and staying relevant as the trends shift. When your brand has a mobile site, your brand is right in everyone’s pocket at his or her disposal and convenience wherever they are and whenever they want. In other words, if you have not done so already, it is time to get your company online, particularly the mobile side of things.

“Mobile-Friendly” vs “Responsive” Design

Before we dig deeper into this topic, I need to make sure you are familiar with the difference between a mobile-friendly site and a responsive site. When the term mobile-friendly is used, we are talking about a site that looks the same on mobile as it does on a desktop and the links are designed to be clickable with a thumb if it’s a mobile device or a mouse if it’s a traditional computer. Essentially it looks identical on a mobile device but it has simply shrunk to a smaller size for the screen. This is mobile-friendly as the name entails, but it is not a preferred way to view a site on mobile devices anymore. As you can probably imagine when everything shrinks it becomes hard to read without taking the extra step of zooming. On the other side when we talk about a responsive site, this is a single website designed to reorganize itself and all of its content automatically to properly fit the screen size of whatever device is being used. A responsive site will look different between devices and right away you will easily notice that it is much easier to read text and navigate to the information you are looking for.

What this means for Mobile Friendly Search…

Now that we are on the same page between these two website structures, we can dive into the issues and maintenance of this new phenomenon. As a result of so many people searching on the go, Google has started sending warning messages recently to websites that are not mobile-friendly. Before you panic remember our definitions, if you have a mobile-friendly site or a responsive site there is no need to worry about these messages. Google has also announced that as of April 21, 2015 they will label your site mobile-friendly or unfriendly and rank your site accordingly on local search results, meaning that if your customer is searching from a mobile device your site will show higher in the results if you have a mobile-friendly site and lower if you do not. This is a clear sign that Google sees the mobile change as a way of the future and is adjusting to stay ahead of the curve by including mobile-friendly design as a must have ranking factor.

If your site is not currently mobile-friendly, it is time to start thinking about your options to make sure you stay ahead of the changing trends. There are multiple solutions to this problem but the most common, and recommended, is creating a responsive site. Once you have designed your responsive site you will need to then optimize your site for search results. When optimizing, you will need to reference Google’s best practices for mobile devices to ensure you are keeping all of the current ranking factors in mind. I know what your thinking now, “Google just wants to confuse everybody” or “another Google update for them to take more money!” But these changes are really for people to continue to receive better search results. Rarely do you ever have to go past page one to find what your looking for when using Google and that is how they have managed to stay the #1 search engine for so long. As technology and search behavior changes, these algorithms will adapt and new ranking factors added to the list. To avoid the hassle of this tedious process and instead enjoy a lemonade and a lawn chair, it is recommended that you consult a Search Engine optimizer.  An SEO will make it their day job, literally, to pay attention to the changes in the algorithms and optimize your site accordingly to get you as close to the top of page one as your site, as is, allows. Once your site has reached its peak, The SEO will then help you continue to improve beyond that point by making recommendations or changes to your site to ensure it is the best it can be.

With the changes being prominent and Giants like Google taking initiative, it is more important than ever to get your website optimized for tablets and smartphones as they become a more staple screen in our tech-filled lives.

Take the Mobile Friendly Test

As always, If you have any questions or comments about your mobile site, feel free to reach out to us here at Paramount. We would be glad to help you get ready for the reign of the multi-screen era!