In 2011, Google announced the release of their Googlebot-Mobile web crawler that was designed to search for mobile-specific content. A few months after this announcement, web developers began saying that Google would likely lower page rankings for websites without mobile-friendly content. They guessed right.
In the June 11, 2013 post on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, Yoshikiyo Kato and Pierre Far wrote, “Smartphone users are a significant and fast growing segment of Internet users, and at Google we want them to experience the full richness of the web.” They go on to say, “To improve the search experience for smartphone users and address their pain points, we plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.”
Non Mobile-Friendly Websites
When a smartphone user visits a non-mobile website, they might have difficulty understanding what products or services that you offer. In addition, navigation is often confusing and frustrating. If your website is not mobile friendly, you can expect most of these visitors to exit your site and never return. And it is estimated that over 50% of web surfers will be using smartphones for searches by the beginning 2014, so it is time for business owners to pay attention to the other half of their audiences.
Google’s June 2013 announcement listed two of the most common errors seen in websites that have unsuccessfully attempted to create accessibility for smartphone users: faulty redirects and smartphone error pages.
Websites that try to accommodate mobile phones often use different URLs for desktop and smartphone users. “A faulty redirect is when a desktop page redirects smartphone users to an irrelevant page on the smartphone-optimized website”, writes Kato and Far. For example, a site that will soon lose search engine ranking is one where all the “pages on the desktop site redirect smartphone users to the home page of the smartphone-optimized site”.
This faulty redirect might confuse a smartphone user and they will likely leave your site. The solution is plain: Redirect smartphone users from a desktop page to its equivalent smartphone-optimized page. If you don’t have the content in a smartphone-friendly format, link to the desktop content rather than redirecting users to an irrelevant page.
Smartphone Error Pages
Some desktop URLs display an error page to smartphone users. There are many causes of these error pages and here are some common ones.
- Sending mobile phone users to an error page: Instead, redirect smartphone users to smartphone-optimized pages instead of a “Not Found” page (404 error page).
- Directing mobile phone users to an irrelevant page instead of the content a user is looking for: If a page on your site content is not available in a smartphone-friendly format, direct the mobile phone user to the desktop page instead.
- Embedding unplayable videos: Many websites contain videos that work well on desktops but don’t work on smartphone devices. For example, if the video requires Adobe Flash, it won’t be visible on an iPhone or Android versions 4.1 and higher.
These are just a few examples of why Google will soon be penalizing search engine rankings for sites that aren’t compatible with smartphones. An equally motivating factor for business owners to optimize their sites for smartphones is the user experience. If your user becomes frustrated, you will potentially lose a lead or sale every time a smartphone user visits your site. Smartphone internet surfers rely on convenience, speed, and accuracy. Your mobile site should be a complete version of your desktop site that loads quickly and displays properly in every mobile device.
Are you wondering how to get started? Paveya can help get your site ready for every variety of smartphone out there with development and extensive testing. Call us at 855-372-8392.