You Have until April 21st to Make Your Company Website Mobile Friendly
Today’s world mobile scenario
Nowadays there are 7 billion workable mobile devices, which is almost as much as people in the world (7.3 billion).
If these data surprise you, to this we should also add that more than 2 million smartphones are sold every day and there are 3.649 billion mobile users so far . This means that there is a mobile penetration of 51%, resulting in 185 million more mobile users since last year.
The smartphone has revolutionized the way in which humans communicate, as well as the way we socialize. Step by step, mobile has replaced the devices that had the supremacy in terms of Internet service, such as desktop computers or laptops. This is why 85% of the population affirms that smartphones are a key element on their routine .
Online search habits: how have searches changed
It is a reality that the way in which people use their smartphones has changed. It is no longer limited to accessing the Internet, but it has turned into an essential element that has modified consumption habits in many markets.
During the second quarter of 2014, 96% of users owning a smartphone accessed the internet every day, and 87% used a search engine almost once a day to look for information. When the computer ruled to search the web, users could only obtain the information required once they arrived home. However, due to the use of portable devices, searches are now carried out at any time to meet users’ immediate needs. 50% of people perform mobile searches when they are at home; 22% search on the go, 15% at work, and 1% at school.
According to software company Borland, users accessing with a computer are willing to wait only 2 seconds until the page is loaded; after 3 seconds, 40% of them will abandon the website. Although waiting time is higher on mobile devices, users accessing a mobile website on a smartphone are unwilling to wait more than 5 seconds until the page is loaded. After that time, 74% of them will abandon the site. In addition, the study affirms that 88% of internet users won’t visit a website again after a bad experience, and that it will be really difficult for that website to gain them back.
Smartphones have become key for sales. 83% of users look for products every week, 49% look for them every day, and 24% use the mobile to purchase weekly. Also, thanks to the use of mobile for searching, 56% of people discover new brands that they didn’t know about before.
But non-purchase mobile searches are also important as they may also lead to sales. Indeed, a rate that has grown considerably is the percentage of users using smartphones to search when they are in store: 2%. 50% of all the queries related to shopping resulted in purchase, and 60% confirmed mobile searches helped users to decide about what item to buy. 18% of people searched the web in store to find information about the location, number or characteristics of a store, and 17% looked for offers and deals for the products desired. After doing shopping searches, users took follow-up actions: 79% of them visited a retailer website and 69% checked prices online; 66% continued the research and 65% discussed the shopping information with somebody else .
Accessing the internet via mobile devices
Most websites are built using desktop computers, and therefore only tested for usability from this kind of devices. But mobile phones and tablets are very different from PCs and laptops:
- Screens are smaller in tablets and especially in mobile phones.
- They don’t use the same technology as bigger devices (i.e. Flash).
- As we have seen, users have different attitudes when they go online to visit a website on a desktop device than when they access it from a mobile device (location, purpose, etc.).
Bearing all this in mind, some of the common problems arising from these issues are rather obvious:
- The text in this kind of websites is usually too small, which forces users to zoom in to read it.
- Links are tiny and it is difficult to click only one as they are too close to each other.
- Sideways scrolling is needed to view the full content of the page, often combined with the zooming in and out.
- Software which is uncommon in mobile devices, such as Flash, is often used, and therefore not working correctly.
- Waiting time can be longer due to poorer internet connections or lesser device power.
Google’s defence of mobile
Google has been warning users about the importance of mobile-friendly websites for years now. Keeping mobile users in mind, the company has tried different options to make developers adapt websites for mobile use.
First they tried their “promoting modern websites for modern devices in Google search results” initiative, which consisted in showing a label next to English search results in the US for websites that may not work correctly on mobile devices:
Then Google went on and took this initiative globally and started showing similar labels on mobile searches worldwide, only this time they rewarded mobile friendliness:
And finally, Google has announced that, starting on April 21st, 2015, search results that are not mobile friendly will not be shown in Google for mobile users.
“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” 
Mobile friendliness is determined according to the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:
- A website avoids software that is uncommon on mobile devices, such as Flash
- The text in it is readable without zooming
- Content is adapted to the width of the screen, so that no horizontal scrolling is needed
- Links are far enough apart and of an appropriate size so that they can be tapped easily
But while all these recommendations were made focusing on websites displayed on mobile devices, Google didn’t lose sight of all those other users who accessed the same websites using different devices (smartphones, desktop computers, tablets…).
This is why they went on to recommend developers to use HTML5 to build websites, a universally supported language that works on all kinds of devices. Along with this recommendation Google made available two resources: Web Fundamentals and Web Starter Kit, which set out the best practices to build all-device search-friendly websites, meaning responsive websites.
Mobile websites vs Responsive web design
What are the differences between a mobile-friendly website and a responsive website? The most obvious and important one is the reach.
A traditional desktop website, created from a desktop device and tested on desktop devices only, will therefore look good on desktop devices only. This kind of website won’t be listed by Google on mobile searches starting on April 21st.
A mobile-friendly website, which is built with mobile users in mind, will look good on mobile devices, but not on desktop units. Have you tried accessing a mobile-only website from a PC? Not nice.
Some websites have tried to solve this by using separate URLs, one for desktop and another one for mobile devices. These URLs are linked by a redirect which serves the desktop version to desktop users and the mobile version to smartphone users. However, Google does not encourage this kind of practice, as redirects are usually faulty (for instance, when a desktop page redirects smartphone users to an irrelevant page on the mobile-friendly site), and also they take longer to load than a regular website. And, as we already know, mobile users don’t like waiting.
Responsive websites are the obvious answer to this problem, and the one that Google has recommended all along. Responsive websites are created using HTML5 –which is the only software runtime that works on every computing device with a screen nowadays–, intelligent CSS3 media queries and flexible layout and images. This way, the website detects from what kind of device the user is accessing, and shows a version of its contents that is optimized for that device (for instance, for mobile: fewer and lighter images, columns layout rearranged, fewer text…).
The importance of mobile-friendly websites for you business
So it has become patent that having a responsive website is the best option for anyone developing one. However, only 1 in 8 websites are responsive, according to Guypo .
This practice is especially bad for companies, as they are missing out on the benefits of a responsive design, some of which could be very beneficial for their business:
- First of all, Google not only recommends it but, as we have seen, is already demanding responsive design. With 67% of searches market share, Google is definitely entitled to decide what’s best for you, and if the search giant says it wants responsive design, you should start thinking about going responsive.
- Responsive design can increase conversion rates. If a website works on mobile or tablet, there is a bigger chance for users accessing it from those devices to convert than if it’s not adapted. And, according to SEOcial, 67% of users are more likely to make a purchase on a mobile-friendly website than on a non mobile-optimized site, and 69% of tablet users were shopping on their devices. 
- According to Google’s Think Insights on Mobile, a good user experience makes users 67% more likely to buy a product or use a service. However, 61% of mobile users will leave a website if they get frustrated or don’t see the content that they are searching for immediately. And, what’s more, 48% of users stated to Google that a website that is not optimized for mobile makes them feel like the company doesn’t care for their business.
- Responsive websites are easier to manage: If you have separate desktop and mobile websites, you will have to run separate desktop and mobile SEO campaigns. A responsive website means that you only need to run SEO once, which is more cost efficient as you will spend less time and money.
- Stay ahead of the competition: It has been made clear that responsive websites are an advantage for companies, and with only 1 in 8 companies having a responsive website today, they are losing out on potential customers. And that is where companies adopting a responsive design before the rest can stay ahead and take those customers away.
Zeendo, the best website editor for small and medium-sized enterprises
So these are the facts we’ve learned:
- Most internet searches are performed from smartphones and tablets today.
- Websites need to be mobile friendly or, starting April 21st, they won’t appear on Google’s searches from mobile devices.
- The best option for a website is to be not just mobile friendly, but all-device friendly. This is, responsive.
Now, when we talk about how websites need to be responsive and how important it is, especially for companies, to develop a responsive website, it may sound as a demand to employ high levels of resources (financial or otherwise). But this doesn’t need to be the case.
Zeendo’s system to create a website that looks great on all devices makes the process easy and inexpensive. Thanks to its easiness of use, anyone can create a beautiful responsive website, so there’s no need to resort to a professional website developer, which saves time and money.
Zeendo provides the tools for businesses to have complete online presence: website, hosting, domain, e-mail, e-commerce, SEO optimization, DIY and DIFM services, all of which can be easily bundled with telecom operators’ products.
And, of course, since Zeendo websites are responsive, all the benefits listed before apply: Google will reward this kind of websites with better positioning on organic searches; conversion rates will improve thanks to the mobile friendliness; improved users’ experience will ensure their loyalty; as there will only be one URL, only one SEO campaign will be needed; and, best of all, businesses with a responsive website will be on top of their competitors.