Today, nearly 90% of Americans are active online. But, as hard as it is to believe, PC sales are actually declining. So how are all those people getting online? Many of them are doing it through smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Almost everyone in the country now owns a cellphone, and around 80% are walking around with smartphones that can access all the endless resources of the internet. That’s not to mention the fact that more than 50% of Americans also own a tablet device of some sort. When you consider the implications of having all that information at your fingertips 24/7, it’s no wonder that mobile devices have actually overtaken desktops when it comes to accessing the internet. In fact, around 10% of Americans are “mobile-only” internet users, meaning that they have a smartphone with a data plan, but no home internet or broadband service.
That’s the bird’s eye view, but let’s zoom in for just a second. We said that mobile devices are actually used more often than desktop computers for internet browsing. That’s quite a thing, and it’s a pretty new development. In fact, 2016 was the first year ever that mobile searches outpaced desktop use, accounting for about 51.3% of web traffic, a number that’s been growing steadily every year since 2009. So, what does that mean for businesses? It means that a mobile-optimized website is essential to stay competitive in a world where 1.2 billion people regularly access the internet from mobile devices.
Mobile-Optimized is the Primary Drive for Web Development Today
Several years ago, Google identified the growing trend toward mobile browsing as the primary method of interacting with the internet and began to change its algorithms accordingly. In 2015, Google began ranking sites within its search index by mobile accessibility. But while Google’s algorithms are excellent barometers of what makes for good SEO, they’re not really the reason why mobile optimization is so important. Google is just reacting to the market, and the market is leaning more and more toward mobile.
The fact is that more people conduct searches on mobile devices than on desktops, some people access the internet exclusively through mobile devices, and the people who search on their mobile devices spend more than their PC-based counterparts. As much as 20% more, according to some figures. That’s a pretty compelling reason to make sure that your business is ready to meet those potential customers where they are, right? If you want to capture those clicks—and convert them into sales—a mobile-optimized website is essential. But what does “mobile-optimized” really mean?
Defining Mobile-Friendly, Mobile-Optimized, and Responsive Design
When it comes to mobile devices, it seems like things are changing every day, and if you’ve tried to do a little research on SEO, PPC campaigns, and mobile-optimization, you may have seen people throwing around a lot of different terms, and sometimes using them more or less interchangeably. Heck, in the course of this blog we’ve already talked about mobile-friendly websites and mobile-optimized ones, but you may be asking yourself, is there a difference? And if so, what is it?
A mobile-friendly website is one that will display correctly whether you’re looking at it on a regular desktop or laptop computer or on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Chances are we’ve all encountered websites that weren’t mobile-friendly over the years: things that wouldn’t load on your phone, or that wouldn’t work once they did. Mobile-friendly is really considered the “bare minimum” for decent modern SEO, and in today’s mobile-driven market, just about any website should regard mobile-friendly design as a necessity.
Today, many websites are mobile-optimized instead, meaning that the site reformats itself based on the device on which it is being viewed. A mobile-optimized website will appear slightly differently on a desktop than on a smartphone, and may even have different menu options, but it will also be optimized for browsing in the user’s preferred format, and can help reach people who interact with the ‘net primarily through their smartphones or other devices.
Responsive design, meanwhile, allows us to create a site that responds to the size of the screen that it’s being viewed on, rather than detecting a particular type of browser or a specific device. Responsive design gives websites a level of dynamic flexibility that is impossible to achieve any other way, while also helping to keep up with advances in technology as people upgrade to the latest devices, smartphones, and tablets.
The Benefits of a Mobile Optimized Website
We’ve made it clear that a mobile-friendly website is a must, but why go the extra mile for a mobile-optimized website? That’s pretty simple. As more and more people rely on their smartphones and other mobile devices to connect with the internet—especially for activities like search and shopping—they will naturally favor those sites that are easiest and fastest to use. Mobile users access websites on the go, and they don’t have a lot of patience for sites that aren’t intuitive and easy to use. That improved user experience translates to a better conversion rate for your site and a competitive advantage in an aggressive market. Google has found that people who are browsing on mobile devices are five times more likely to click away if a website isn’t mobile-friendly, and that more than half of all browsers will leave if a site takes more than three seconds to load.
Optimizing an existing site for mobile means a website redevelopment project for you, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, Google’s SEO algorithms favor fresh content and may view static webpages that haven’t updated as “dead,” so creating a new, mobile-optimized website can be a good excuse to update your existing content with something that’s more in keeping with modern SEO best practices! If you’re ready to become more mobile-friendly, though, it’s a good idea to have a digital marketing team in your corner to help ensure that your new business website is as full-featured and alluring as possible. After all, the technology that we use to develop websites has come a long way in the last few years, but so has the competition!
If you need a little help making your website as mobile-friendly as possible, you can always turn to the digital marketing professionals at iFocus Marketing in Kansas City. We’ve been keeping our fingers on the pulse of the growing trends in mobile marketing, and we’re happy to help find the perfect approach for your business!