In early 2014, for the first time ever, the number of minutes spent browsing on a mobile device surpassed desktop browsing figures. This statistic became increasingly important when examining habits of a typical mobile user. Instead of the usual metrics of users being online via their desktop devices during work hours, mobile devices with increased capacities now allow users to consume content on the go – whether it be during their commute, or during leisure hours. Last year Black Friday saw a quarter of all online traffic come from mobile, and that number is only expected to keep increasing. As we head into 2015 it is clear that mobile-friendly sites should now be the priority for brands online.
Mobile ads are on the rise and are now being seamlessly integrated into top mobile apps such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. For example in early 2013 mobile app ads helped drive more than 145 million app installs through Facebook. Mobile commerce is also booming as 40% of consumers view mobile devices as the most valued resource when making a purchase decision. Mobile-friendly sites use this insight to create a positive browsing experience that encourages users to return again and again. Ads are evolving to be more mobile-friendly with options like the ability to anchor a mobile ad to the bottom or top of a page so that as a user scrolls, your content stays visible. Mobile-friendly websites provide value in e-commerce ventures but also in initial top of the funnel brand recognition. If a user has a bad mobile experience on your site it is likely they will look somewhere else to make a purchase.
Larger Mobile Devices
This past year has shown an increased consumer interest in larger mobile devices and hybrid devices such as the phablet (a device that combines the features of a phone with a size closer to a tablet). What this means for brands is an influx of users choosing to shop for purchases on their mobile devices instead of using their traditional desktops. Brands should be using the larger mobile device trend as an opportunity to engage with their consumers on their preferred device through the increase of “real estate” space. Accessing a website with a mobile device should no longer be viewed as a means to get users onto a desktop version. Instead companies have the unique opportunity to design beautiful mobile-friendly experiences that encourage users to interact with their brand on the go.
Google Promotes Mobile-Friendly Sites
One of the latest changes to Google search came in the form of a “mobile-friendly” label. Mobile users browsing on Google will now see a mobile-friendly label (under the page title, beside the meta description), on all sites that align with Google rules on what is considered mobile optimized content. Mobile users will now be able to filter out poorly optimized sites without having to click on the website link. This means that if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you may start to experience less mobile traffic. It is safe to say that in the near-future Google will not only reward websites that are mobile-friendly but also penalize ones that give poor mobile-browsing experiences (i.e. flash content that cannot be viewed on mobile).
Google is also promoting changes in their ads to benefit mobile users. For example they are promoting a click-to-call feature that gives mobile users a seamless one-click transition from a search to a phone call if they wish to contact a company. Google is focusing on ads that can be swiped left and right, as well as 360 product views on Google Shopping. The overall goal is to make mobile commerce a smooth experience that eliminates the need for desktop purchases.
How To Be Mobile Friendly
Marketing to mobile-users through your desktop site can actually be detrimental to your success rate online if it is not properly formatted. This will lead to an increase in bounce rates and an increased likelihood of users visiting a competitor site that is mobile-friendly. If you want to rank well on Google across all devices, here are the top optimization tips from Google for making your website mobile-friendly:
1) Only Include Readable Text
- Google considers readable text a text size that is visible via a mobile device without zooming
- Users should be able to visit your site and easily read all content as well as links
2) Avoid Non-Mobile Software
- Speed is a critical part, and potentially the most important part, of mobile-based browsing as users will not wait for slow loading websites
- As such, it is important that you avoid software that is not compatible with all mobile devices – such as Flash – as not only will it increase loading speed but it will also slow down the browsing experience
- If your website page has videos, ensure they are properly embedded and viewable on a mobile-device
3) Optimize Layout For Mobile
- Mobile users are using touch screen devices and are therefore clicking links and interacting with your site via their fingers
- A study found that 48% of mobile shoppers categorize “ease of use” as the top priority for mobile sites
- Google expects that you format your website so that links are far enough apart that they are easily clicked with fingers
- Some sites have optimized their content by providing mobile users the opportunity to swipe through pages rather than click through
4) Properly Fit Content To Screen
- Mobile-friendly websites are formatted to fit all content within a device’s screen so that users do no have to scroll back and forth in order to read your content
- Google recommends using “Responsive Web Design (RWD)” because it retains the same content and URL but properly formats it for the screen-size
Following the above four mobile-friendly optimization steps will help your website improve mobile traffic and mobile commerce conversion rates. If you are interested in further reading on the subject, here are some relevant links: