Deadline Day is Nearing to Make Your Business Mobile Friendly

The technology and marketing media have been talking about the great move to the mobile web for what seems like an eternity; we've written a piece or two on the subject ourselves, for that matter. Despite the annual predictions that the next year will definitely be the year of mobile, however, the rate of change has been more glacial evolution than smartphone revolution. Now, all signs point to the great transition finally coming in April - or at least the weeks and months that follow it - as a deadline day looms that no business, big or small, can ignore. [caption id="attachment_1177" align="aligncenter" width="500"]couple staring at smartphones More people are staring endlessly into their smartphones...  will they see your site?[/caption]

Google's Deadline Day

The date for your diary is April 21st, 2015.

That's the day when Google revealed it will start the shift to mobile-friendly web rankings, by taking greater account of signals that indicate a positive experience for visitors using a smartphone or tablet. It's important to note that this applies only to searches performed on those devices, and is will not affect desktop search results. So if most of your traffic is from a traditional PC or laptop, the impact on your site will be less significant.

In the past, the buzz around going mobile and how it influences search rankings has been largely speculative. Google had confirmed from time to time that it factors mobile into its algorithm, but you'd still see plenty of standard websites in your smartphone browser. What the search leader has done with this April deadline - or perhaps target date is more appropriate, given that there are likely to be subsequent adjustments - is give businesses a concrete date to make the major adjustments required.

There are a few pointers that Google offers when you test your website for mobile-friendly status. These include:

  • Design of site adjusts when a visitor lands on your site using a mobile device. This could mean making use of responsive design, or redirecting to a mobile version of the site.
  • Site text is small and/or close together, making it difficult to read on a smaller screen.
  • Site elements like links, buttons, and search boxes are spaced sufficiently far apart to avoid mis-clicks).
  • Focus on quick call to action navigation, such as buttons to key information (opening hours, services or product list, rates) and click-to-call options (more later on those, and the importance of phone numbers in this new online environment).
  If you haven't updated your site for several years, it's likely that most of these are true of website. So run the test, check your main URL on your second screen devices, and decide just how urgent it is to fix the issues that the mobile-friendly report raises. [caption id="attachment_3588" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Smartphone and tablet on laptop Image Credit: miniyo73[/caption]

Fueled by Mobile Growth

Back in 2013, there were 144.5 million smartphone users, more than double the 2010 number. By 2018, that number is expected to reach 220 million according to recent research from BIA/Kelsey. That's more than two-thirds of the US population, doesn't factor in tablet use, and shows the explosive growth of the second screen since the iPhone threw open the barn doors in 2007. Concurrently, in 2013, around 30 billion inbound calls were placed to businesses in the course of users conducting a search on a mobile device. Projected a few years into the future, the same study expects this number to more than double, hitting some 73 billion calls by 2018. That's because the promotional power of phone numbers has come into its own on the mobile web. The highest-performing lead generation channel has finally been properly connected to the promise of online marketing. When you can move a potential customer instantly from web research mode to talking directly to your business, the opportunity for your sales team increase exponentially. First, of course, you have to get the customer to your site, which is where the previous points in this article come into play. If, like many others, your business has punted on investing in a mobile-friendly website update, now you have a concrete business case to make to senior management (or, for owners, to justify the cost to yourself!) From there it's all about a memorable, accessible phone number that's prominently displayed on your mobile-friendly site, and incorporates click-to-call functionality for those who want to call right away. In some cases that won't be the case, however, which is where the memorable digits of a custom number go to work. Repeater numbers, million numbers, or those that transform the numbers into a branded word of phrase The bottom line here is that the mobile web is here, expanding rapidly, and now we all have a deadline. If that makes 2015 the year of mobile, then it also makes it the year your business needs to hone its phone number(s), to deliver on the inbound lead generation potential of the channel. Keep watching this blog and our social media sites (below) for guidance on the subject, and feel free to contact us if you need to act fast and get a better number! Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google

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