In the last few years, Google has been communicating the need for mobile ready sites. Forward-thinkers are already reaping the benefits of creating a mobile-friendly website. If your company hasn’t taken the plunge, Google has publicly stated its intent to make mobile-friendly websites standout in its search results, which may lead to a new ranking factor. Google has always strived for the best user experience and, clearly, mobile-friendly websites are front and center when mobile search volume is starting to pull ahead of desktop search.
Ultimately, Google can’t control whether a website is mobile-friendly or not. It also takes time to develop a mobile ranking factor that provides the best user experience and doesn’t alienate important websites that may not have become mobile-friendly yet. With this challenge in mind, Google began testing an icon that alerts users to mobile-friendly websites in their search results. This icon may prove to be valuable in driving search traffic to mobile-friendly websites. Along with the trend of mobile search growth, it is imperative that every website implements a mobile-friendly website.
Is mobile Internet taking over desktop usage?
According to recent research provided by comScore, the majority of consumers are multiscreening. It doesn’t mean that mobile alone is winning, but multiple devices are being utilized by the same visitor at the same websites. This is a key reason to have consistent experiences across multiple devices.
It is clear a standard site on a mobile device provides poor user experience It is clear a standard site on a mobile device provides poor user experience: fonts are too small, there’s an overwhelming amount of information on one screen, and it’s very difficult to navigate. Unless the standard website is the only source of information the user is seeking, they will definitely bounce and choose a mobile-friendly website to visit.
A colleague provided a great example on how you can get an edge on a competitor by being proactive with a mobile-friendly website. He was on the runway at JFK and remembered a birthday for his friend was coming up. He did a search for “gift delivery New York.” As most users would, he immediately clicked on the top result and thought this would be quick and painless. The company he was directed to didn’t have a mobile-friendly website and his frustration brought him right back to Google to find another company with satisfactory user experience. The second result was a Belgian chocolate gift delivery service with a mobile-friendly website, so guess what his friend got for her birthday? And guess who just missed a sale (and who knows how many before that)?
Google has stated that a website should offer the same user experience regardless of the device used by the viewer. Larry Page, Google co-founder and CEO, expressed strong feelings against having multiple sites for multiple devices and believes webmaster shouldn’t be designing for mobile. Thus, Google officially endorsed responsive design as the preferred method of building a mobile-friendly website. Responsive design is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience — easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling — across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).
The emergence of mobile voice search
Another reason to have a mobile-ready site is mobile voice search. Mobile voice search is an emerging technology that combines the power of mobile with a voice recognition algorithm. This algorithm gives users the ability to search Google by speaking their request in a conversational manner. Google has made great progress on this by utilizing the Knowledge Graph to power the search results. Google hosts the largest informational dataset in the world, and providing the correct answer to any question is integral to their success as a search engine.
To feed the Knowledge Graph for local search results, Google uses both information from Wikipedia and the business website. Consequently, it is very important to keep the following information up-to-date: logo, address, phone number, key people and other important information related to be business. Implementing schema on your website is ideal for providing search engines with this important information. Schema markup helps search engines understand the context of information on webpages, allowing them to provide richer results through the Knowledge Graph.
Google also announced a new search platform in September 2013, Hummingbird. The name comes from being “precise and fast” and is designed to better focus on the meaning behind the words. Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words.
In a recent survey commissioned by Google, teens have overwhelmingly integrated voice search into their normal search behavior, whereas adults have yet to adopt it into their search lifestyle. Most of the voice searches noted in the study involve directions, phone calls and homework questions. However, the number of searches regarding local businesses, products, and reviews have increased exponentially in the last year.
Mobile traffic is growing at exponential rates and the steps Google has taken is a clear indicator that every company must have a mobile strategy. Google’s recent tests, like mobile icons, may not become standard in the search results. However, it is clear that having a properly optimized site for mobile search is not optional anymore. Always consider what Google’s ultimate goal is, a quality user experience, and make sure your website is built with that very goal in mind.
Originally published by Crispin Sheridan for Clickz on Mashable, November 13, 2014