Tag Archives: mobile

Google Moves the Goalposts – this time for the better

If your organization ranks well on Google, when visitors search on terms relent to what you do, congratulations. But not for too long. Google periodically tweaks its algorithm. Overnight, your high ranking page can be sent back to the Minors.

A sudden demotion in search rankings frustrates and angers some site owners. Sometimes Google’s ranking changes may appear arcane or arbitrary. Its latest change on April 21st makes sense.

In essence it says that if someone searches from a mobile phone, pages in search results, which do not render well on a mobile device, will be penalized with a lower rank.

Not rendering well includes a multitude of issues from a page requiring lateral scrolling to menus spilling off the screen. In the parlance of web design, such pages are said to be unresponsive. Unresponsiveness reduces the effectiveness of a page. Now it also reduces its search rank.

As a start, try viewing the pages on your site from your own iOS or Android phone or tablet. You might be unpleasantly surprised by what you see. Even if the site works OK on your particular device, there may still be problems with some of the scores of gadgets your clients are using.

A convenient way to check is with Google’s “Mobile-friendly” test page.  You just enter the URL of a page you want to test. If the page, such as the one you’re reading now or, say, on a well know site such as intel.com, pass, the test responds with a reassuring
Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly in go-ahead green type. If not, you’ll see a curt Not mobile-friendly in red, a list of errors, and suggestions for designing a more responsive site.

Firms, which ought to know better, such dell.com, had problems on the mobile-friendly test. Firms, with really busy pages, Home Depot comes to mind, nonetheless passed.

Thus Google gives yet another reason for your site to have a responsive, mobile-friendly or even mobile-first design. In southern Africa, where I’m writing this, mobile is the dominant mode of online access. As a recent Pew study reports – mobile is a growing and for some segments the dominant mode of Internet access in the U.S. See graphic below.


7% of Americans Rely Heavily on a Smartphone for Online Access

In both B2B and B2C mobile is where your customers are. Have you checked the mobile-friendliness of your site lately?

How Mobile Do You Look?

According to the latest research from the Pew Internet and American Life project, 46% of American adults 18 and older own smartphones. This has grown from 35% a year earlier. Desktop computer ownership, on the other hand, has continued to decline. Only 55% of adults now own desktops.

As these data show, the country is going mobile. Many of your customers probably are accessing your content through their phones. This begs the question – how does your site look, and more important work, through a mobile browser?

Many larger companies and organizations seem to have figured this out. The website of IBM, HP, Home Depot, Whole Foods, REI, and Harvard University are fundamentally different when visited from a desktop or laptop vs. when visited from a smartphone.

On a mobile aware site, a graphically busy multicolumn layout festooned with badges and banners can become a simplified and cleaner single column display. Now how does your site look?

Not every large organization seems to have considered the mobile visitor and the results can be unsightly not to mention unusable. If you need to get some information from the IRS or Chase Credit Cards from the browser on your phone, you’re in for a lot of pinching, panning, scrolling and zooming.

Small firms often lack mobile aware sites. If they are your competition, being mobile aware could give you an “unfair” advantage. As a smaller firm, you may have fewer marketing and web development resources, but going mobile can be easier than it might appear.

An emerging company called dudamobile offers one straight forward solution. It converts an existing site to one, which is mobile ready. I’ve been testing its service for a number of clients and find it works. It’s also easy.

To make a companion mobile site, you visit www.howtogom.com/getstarted and follow an onscreen wizard. You can modify the overall look of the mobile site by choosing a number of design templates and otherwise tweak your site, without knowing any web technology. The only technical skill required is the ability to paste a few lines of code in the head section of your homepage.  The service doesn’t work if your site uses framesets, which are obsolete technology, or Flash. Otherwise you should be good to go.

Compare the versions below, of a retail website below. Which one would you be more like to spend time on? Once you’ve implemented the service, visitors on a computer will see your traditional site. Those on mobile will automatically see the mobile version. Dudamobile charges $9 per month for this but it is currently offering a free one year trial. This may mobilize you to “mobilize” your site.


      Before Mobilization

             After Mobilization