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BLOG: Is your website costing you new business in 2017?

Advisor, Mark Ainsworth, creative director at Max Web Solutions, discusses 'How Your Poorly Optimised Website Could Be Costing You New Business in 2017'

Google now commands a 90%+ share of the UK Internet search market. If you're not 'on Google,' then you really aren't being found by your potential customers. One vital part of being 'found' on Google is by investing in a mobile website.

Google now actively penalises websites that are not mobile friendly in its search results. By not investing in a mobile website, you will fail to rank in Google when people search for terms related to your business via their mobile phone.

This means you will ultimately miss out on leads and business enquires.

The rise of mobile traffic

In 2016 overall mobile web traffic has overtaken desktop traffic for the first time. Around 60% of global Internet traffic is accesses the web via a mobile phone. This figure is only set to rise. This means it's absolutely essential to invest in a mobile responsive website.

Back in April 2015, Google launch its 'mobilegeddon' algorithm update. This meant websites poorly optimised for mobile were penalised in Google's search results. Likewise, mobile 'friendly' or 'mobile responsive' websites were given preferential treatment.

Why does Google punish websites poorly optimised for mobile? Because if Google serves up search results that frustrate its users, Google will be providing a poor ‘user experience’ and begin to lose market share to Bing and Yahoo. Google is avoiding this fate by effectively ‘leading the way’ on providing the best user experience for mobile web browsers. One easy way to achieve this is to penalise websites poorly optimised for mobile in its search results.

A warning from Google

From 2014 up to August 2016, Google added a 'mobile friendly' label next to search results that led to mobile friendly websites. However, Google dropped this label in August 2016 because they wanted to declutter mobile search results. Google also said the label wasn't too important anymore, since over 85% of websites are now mobile friendly.

The extent of this problem on Merseyside

At the agency I head up in Wirral, the majority of existing businesses come to us with an existing website that's entirely optimised for desktop but not mobile traffic. This is despite over 70% of their overall traffic emanating from mobile devises. Suffice it to say, many of these website owners are missing out on new business because of a poorly optimised mobile website.

From the horse’s mouth

Here's what Google says about mobile websites:

  • Today, more people search on mobile phones than computers
  • People are five times more likely to leave a site if it isn’t mobile-friendly
  • Over half of mobile users will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load

We feel it safe to say that a website poorly optimised for mobile is likely to annoy your customers and paint a poor picture of your brand. That's assuming your website is found in the first place!

An official Google study titled "" also found the below statistics about how website visitors perceive their experiences when browsing the Internet on their mobile phones:

  • 74 percent say they are likely to return to a company’s site in the future, if it is a mobile-friendly site
  • 48 percent feel frustrated and annoyed if a company doesn’t have a mobile-friendly site
  • 52 percent are less likely to engage with a company that has no mobile website

Is your current website mobile friendly?

You may be unsure whether your current website is mobile friendly or not. To help, Google now provides a "mobile friendly testing tool". You can access this tool by clicking here.

Google also offers a mobile usability report via the Search Console. You must create a Google Account and then verify that you own your website by following the instructions Google provides. The report provides a detailed list of mobile errors found on your website.

Some of the issues these tools look at include:

  1. Website flash usage - because mobile browsers cannot render Flash, you will want to eliminate Flash in favour of more mobile friendly technologies such as HTML5
  2. Viewport not configured - 'viewport' is a 'meta tag' that allows browsers to 'scale' a webpage to suit a particular devise
  3. Fixed-width viewport - if this is enabled, your website will favour 'fixed width' design over mobile-friendly responsive design
  4. Content not sized to viewport - this means website content doesn't fit the browser window. This forces website visitors to scroll. You can fix this problem with relative widths and by eliminating fixed widths
  5. Small font size - This is when mobile visitors are required to 'pinch' the screen in order to read content on your website
  6. Touch elements too close - This is when Google feels it's difficult to tap a given page element without hitting an adjacent element
  7. Interstitial usage - this is typically a 'full screen' advert that greets users upon entry to your website. Google feels this provides a poor user experience for mobile visitors

If any of the above 'errors' are appearing in your Mobile Usability Report, it's likely your website is being penalised in the search results. You need to correct these errors so your website receives a healthy influx of organic search visitors via mobile devises.

The important of mobile site speed

Page load speed is now an important Google ranking factor. If your website is slow to load, Google will penalise your website in the search results. This is particularly true for mobile search results. You must assume people are searching for your website via their mobile data network, and not via 4G or WiFi.

Google provides a PageSpeed testing tool. Simply type in your website address, and Google will score your website for its page speed on a scale from 1 to 100. Google also supplies you with a number of ways to improve your page speed on both mobile and desktop devises.

Some of these improvements may require you obtain the services of a website developer.

Here's a list of some of the improvements Google commonly suggests:

  • Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content
  • Enable compression
  • Optimize images
  • Minify CSS
  • Leverage browser caching

As a general rule, you want your website to load within 3 seconds. Anything above this is considered 'slow.' Depending on the size and nature of your website, you may also need to locate a faster hosting partner.

What are your options?

So we've convinced you of the need to invest in a mobile website. You are probably now wondering how you can implement a mobile website. The good news is that a mobile website is fairly inexpensive and simple to implement. You may choose to invest in a 'responsive website'. A responsive website uses modern HTML5. This means your website 'responds' differently according to the 'devise' your website visitor is using to access your website i.e. mobile, desktop or tablet.

Your second option is to invest in a standalone 'mobile website'. The mobile website will automatically be served up when a visitor accesses your website via a mobile. This method is rather out-of-date and something we do not generally recommend.