Us Internet marketers and webmasters have been in a long-term love affair with desktops. How could you blame us? They were our first love. Valentine's Day is right around the corner, making it difficult to consider breaking up, even when it's plausible. Desktops have been the primary digital source for a very long time, so it makes sense why so many website owners are tied to their old ways of catering to desktops only. I mean, mobile devices have been around for quite some time, but have only recently made a significant impact in the webosphere.
A lot of people called it bluff, believing it was a fling that would soon go away. But the truth is out – smartphones are just as, if not more, important than desktop. In 2015, Google made the announcement that mobile users were conducting more searches than desktop users.
It left Google with no choice but to begin favoring websites that were mobile-friendly. After all, Google is all about the user, so whatever the user wants, the user gets. Right now, they are calling for mobile-friendly searches and interactions.
The Inevitable Mobilegeddon
Back in April 2015, Mobilegeddon was all the talk in the Internet marketing community. It was the event that would change the game, forcing webmasters everywhere to comply or fall in the ranks of SERPs.
Fast forward almost a year later and we're all still here. But that doesn't mean we've seen the worst of it. Some sites have fallen a spot or two in the ranks – this could be an indication that Google plans to roll this update out slowly. You shouldn't take Google's kindness for weakness though. Expect more to come, and make use of the time allotted to get right with your website.
Companies Are Still in Love with Desktop
You don't want to be one of the 500 companies that failed Google's mobile friendly test when they finally put the update into full effect.
You can take the mobile friendly test to see if your website passes Google's requirements. Any site that passes the test from April 21st will have a “Mobile Friendly” tag beside their link in search results. There's also talk about Google creating a separate index just for mobile-friendly sites that pass the test.
The great thing about the test is that it will let you know why you failed. Take a look at the test for Moz, for example:
From the results, their text wasn't large enough, the links were too close and the mobile viewport wasn't set. Once you fix whatever issues there were, you can get back on their good side and prevent losing your ranks because of your misdeeds.
Now, why on earth wouldn't a major content site like Moz not pass the mobile friendly test? Maybe it's because majority of their users aren't mobile users, or maybe they're running a test. Either way, you have to assess your own website and audience to determine if a responsive design should be in the cards for you.
Saying Goodbye to Desktop
So how do you know if it's time to give in to the trend and give your online real estate a responsive face-lift? Hopefully, you have an analytics tool tracking your visitors. If so, you can use this to identify whether majority of your visitors are mobile users.
Make note that switching to a responsive website design won't affect your desktop visitors. Unlike with a separate mobile site (which should be avoided), responsive websites automatically adapt to the screen size you're using, so there's a seamless user experience for both parties. The idea here is to determine whether your desktop-only design is interfering with visits from mobile users. If you're selling a product or service, this is crucial to know.
You also have to keep in mind the future – more and more people are crossing over to mobile devices. Majority of these people still use their laptops and desktops, but are on their smartphones and tablets majority of the day, even when they're at home. Future-proofing your site should be a top priority, as well as reaching as many people as possible. So it only makes sense to consider updating your site with a responsive design.
Falling In Love All Over Again
Everyone isn't adaptable, and many are afraid of change. But in this case, there's nothing to fear. There are many SEO companies that offer Web design services that cater to mobile and desktop users. Once you have ventured to the other side, you'll fall in love all over again. The great thing about this relationship is that it offers less restrictions and increases your chances of success.
So how do you win over the love of your mobile users?
Always keep them in mind. In fact, whip out your own smartphone to see how annoying your layouts, themes, fonts and speed load times are. Test and audit your site regularly, especially after changes have been implemented. Keep a close eye on what Google and your mobile audience is vying for and ensure your website portrays this.
Hopefully, there will be no more “Dear Johns” and this new relationship turns out to be a life-long marriage!
Hugh Benjamin has been building start-ups for his whole career. He has a proven track record of growing companies from two employees to 200 using his unique brand of high-energy, responsible scaling strategies. Hugh currently runs business development at I Think an Idea, an SEO and content agency in Los Angeles, California.