Should I make my website mobile friendly? Here's the answer for the procrastinators who still haven't optimized their site for mobile visitors yet. Short answer is YES! If you don't like reading through data heavy blog posts, just stop here, you got your answer. If you'd like to know the details of why
the answer is yes, read on.
Let me start by saying if you haven't optimized your website for mobile visitors yet, probably by using RWD (Responsive Web Design), you ARE a procrastinator. We've been using RWD for the last 3 1/2 years, mobile specific sites prior to that. Which if you aren't mobile friendly yet, probably means you haven't gone through a redesign in that period of time either and your site surely looks dated. But enough finger pointing and shaming you. Here's the why and your answer...
There are really two reasons. #1 is to give your site visitors a pleasant experience. Google shared that over 1/2 of all searches are now from mobile devices, so if they do click on your search results, what kind of experience are they going to get. But wait you say... 1/2 of my traffic isn't from mobile devices! Well of course not, becuase Google is going to send you a lot less traffic from mobile searches if your site isn't optimized. That started April 21st 2015 and isn't going to change. By the way... that traffic your missing out on... is going to your competitor who did update his site. Which brings me to reason #2. You WANT Google to send traffic to your site whether it's a desktop, tablet, or phone that the person is searching on! If you don't make your site mobile friendly that isn't going to happen. This post is about increasing the traffic to your site from mobile visitors. Whatever mobile traffic you are getting now is probably hitting their back button in about 10 seconds.
I'm a data driven kind of guy so to answer this question I went deep into site analytics to look at what the rankings were for both desktop and mobile traffic for sites with Responsive Web Design sites and those without. I picked two of our client's in the same industry and in the same geography and compared what keyword phrases they ranked for, where they ranked desktop vs mobile and analyzed the results. Deep down I wanted to know how much Google was really penalizing for not being mobile friendly.
Site B, who hadn't redesigned their site using Responsive Web Design ranked for 316 keyword phrases. Of those phrases, 22 phrases ranked higher on mobile, 294 phrases were ranked higher on desktop searches, percentage wise only 7% of their keyword phrases were ranked higher on mobile (which frankly surprised me there were this many).
Site A, converted to Responsive Web Design about 3 months back. A slightly larger site with more activity (news, blog posts, those types of things that would capture Google's attention and drive more traffic from more keyword phrases) ranked for 1057 keyword phrases. Of those 53 ranked higher for mobile, 1004 ranked better on desktop which meant only 5% ranked higher on mobile. Hmmm, that's not what I expected to see! So I dug further.
I next removed the keyword phrases that had had zero rankings on desktop or mobile. That way we had comparisons that the keyword phrase ranked for both platforms. This changed the results some.
Site B (not mobile friendly) now had 42% (or 4.2 out of 10 searches) of their searches ranked higher on mobile than desktop.
Site A (using RWD) had 54% (or 5.4 out of 10) of their searches ranking higher on mobile than desktop. Still not the ratio I was expecting so I dug further.
Realizing that ranking #300 for a search wasn't going to do a client any good, I removed all of the listings that weren't in the top 20 results on either desktop or mobile. This turned out to show a much greater difference between mobile friendly and not.
Site B had 47% of their mobile searches ranking higher now, but Site A (mobile friendly) had 66% of their keyword phrases ranking higher for mobile searches in the Google search results.
So from an SEO (Search Engine Optimzation) perspective on mobile searches, you should expect nearly a 20% increase in your mobile rankings for a mobile optimized site versus one that isn't. That doesn't sound like a lot until you start multiplying that times the number of visitors you get. For every 1,000 visitors you have using mobile devices, if you increase that number by 20% that give you another 200 potential customers. That's a pretty big increase. Not as big as you would assume the way Google "Mobilegeddon" was talked about in early 2015, but significant.
One other reason to redesign using Responsive Web Design is the simple fact that done correctly (meaning proper on-page SEO is implemented in both) we've always noticed a significant increase across the board (mobile vs desktop) in search rankings anytime we do a site redesign, generally more than the 20% this comparison showed.
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