Category Archives: Mobile

Progressive Web Apps: The New Frontier for Mobile Browsing and Marketing

Progressive Web Apps Technology - Eminent SEO

For mobile and web optimization, having the best of both worlds is typically a far-fetched dream for businesses. However, in 2015, Google developers defied the status quo of mobile browsing by creating progressive web apps (PWAs). They resemble the mobile apps we are all used to, but are quite different: more accessible and no drain on your phone’s hard drive. A far-fetched dream is now a reality.

What Is Progressive Web App Technology?

Progressive web apps (PWAs) are a method of software development. PWAs differ from other applications because they unite traditional websites with mobile applications. Modern browsers, such as Safari and Microsoft Edge, offer extensive benefits that have not been usable through a mobile device in the past.

However, PWAs seek to fuse the features of web browsers with the convenience of mobile devices. The increased popularity of mobile device usage among consumers places a demand on companies to follow suit with mobile-friendly websites. While making a hybrid of the best of web browsing and mobile browsing is the goal, it’s also the primary challenge.

Mobile Sites vs. Mobile Apps

Mobile sites receive more traffic than mobile apps. Companies that are not well-known tend to do better with mobile sites than with mobile apps. An established or a widely known company can easily transition from a mobile site to a mobile app because customers are familiar with the brand and want to further interact with the company through a different interface.

However, lesser-known companies are Mobile Sites Vs Mobile Apps - Eminent SEOusually discovered by prospective customers through a wider range of communication, which is the benefit of mobile sites. Potential customers who have never heard of a certain brand are more likely to stumble upon the business through the broad exposure of a mobile site, rather than the exclusive loyalty of a mobile app.

While mobile sites are usually better for wider visibility, mobile apps consume more of a user’s device time. Mobile apps are useful for customers who have interacted previously with a business. That means most small, local businesses or B2B businesses would find mobile apps unprofitable. However, if a customer, or potential customer, has browsed a company’s website or entered the doors of a business, then a mobile app could be effective to keep a line of communication going.

For example, Schlotzsky’s has an app that tracks the number of sandwiches a customer has purchased, providing a visual countdown until the consumer reaches a free entrée. The app features much more, though, such as company updates, special offers, alerts, franchise locations and a menu. Since Schlotzsky’s is a nationally recognized business, a mobile app enhances its brand loyalty and communication with customers.

The Benefits of Progressive Web Apps

PWAs maintain the strength of a full-blown web browser without restricting mobility. The computer’s web browser isn’t reduced in power, just size. In the past, users might have hesitated to use their mobile device over a computer web browser due to the latter’s complex functionality and powerful processing system. However, pulling out a laptop while standing in line at the grocery store isn’t practical.

On the other hand, users loyal to their mobile devices objected to using computers or laptops for their bulkiness and long loading times. From their perspective, the convenience of reaching into a pocket and sending an email within seconds was more practical than commuting to their desk space to boot up a computer. However, to profit from the ease of mobile browsing, the hefty sacrifice of web browsing’s power was non-negotiable.

PWAs put an end to the past give-and-take of internet browsing commonly endured by the business community. Here are the benefits PWAs have to offer:

Push Notifications

Real time, fast updates of a user’s apps that summarize priority information instead of accessing an email address or waiting to log in on a computer.

Better Layout

More responsive arrangement and simpler navigation than the mobile version of a traditional website.

Offline Accessibility

The PWA runs continuously, even when offline. While working behind the scenes, it tracks the user’s actions, all without direct user communication.

Hardware Utilization

Hardware features such as geolocation, microphone and camera are embedded and accessible in PWAs.

Less Data Consumption

This means less lag time for users in delayed or restricted internet access locations. Less data consumption could also make a big difference when it comes to users’ monthly phone bills.

Community of Internet Users

PWAs don’t require a download and are free, making them more likely to attract a larger number of active users.

How to Optimize Progressive Web App Content

Web Apps Unsupported Browser Icons - Eminent SEO

The future of online communication is paved by PWAs. App developers need to remain cautious of Google’s page indexing and implement correct coding methodology to counteract it. Companies should strive for a powerful online presence by utilizing the best SEO practices to inform users and retain customers.

PWAs supplement current websites but, at this time, are less effective independently. After a company’s website is established, bulked and refined, incorporating a PWA is the next business step.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • Don’t send clients to an unsupported browser site.
  • If supplying information from several URLs, utilize “rel=canonical” to avoid identical content violations in the eyes of search engines.
  • Don’t use the AJAX crawling arrangement on original sites.
  • Don’t use hashtags. Googlebot doesn’t store URLs that use this symbol, and several PWAs possess a hashtag (#) in their URL address. The result is erased content past the hashtag, or pound sign. The solution is to use a URL structure according to SEO best practices instead of URLs that include a hashtag.
  • Ensure a website is viewable through the lens of Google. The Fetch and Render feature in Google Search Console accomplishes this task.
  • Double check that sources are accessible, and not restricted by robots.txt.
  • Limit hyperlinked sources, especially JavaScript files, to prevent partially loaded pages.
  • Cautiously use JavaScript, as some search engines may be incompatible with it.
  • Denote website changes with a sitemap file when utilizing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).

If you feel like you’re ready to get started on your first PWA, check out Google’s dedicated Progressive Web Apps platform.

The Next Steps

Mobile Phones Mobile Technology - Eminent SEO

Mobile apps were once the next step for companies with an established brand, and they’re still valuable in many cases. However, the recent creation of PWAs is the next logical step for most businesses, as they foster enhanced company communication, stronger brand loyalty and easier user navigation.

While the benefits of PWAs are staggering, the construction of such a website may seem overwhelming. That’s where Eminent SEO comes in. Eminent SEO can help build a new website from scratch – one that has mobile responsiveness and customized features for smartphones. To learn more, call us today at 800.871.4130.

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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So Many Changes to AMP Content In Google Mobile Search: Let’s Recap

AMP Platform Your Website Join In - EminentSEO

Accelerated mobile pages – called AMPs – are one of Google’s newest projects. Google’s techies created the platform to help web publishers provide content to users that loads quickly across mobile devices.

Presently, the platform maintains a large focus on news stories. In a blog post that preceded the AMP launch, Google explained the project’s original intent: Rich content, such as video animations and graphics, should work alongside smart ads and load instantly.

With the open-source AMP platform, Google hopes to consistently deliver the best experience for its mobile search users. Our culture has been trained to look for instant gratification, and Google knows that we need lightning fast, accurate information.

How AMP Content in Google Mobile Search Works

AMP content officially debuted in Google mobile search in February 2016. These articles were easy to distinguish from other formats: They appear in a “carousel” layout, allowing users to swipe horizontally between the best results. Each entry also features a lightning bolt icon and the acronym “AMP.” Users have already enjoyed the fast results, prompting more research into the platform’s possibilities.

AMP Content In Google Mobile Search Carousel - Eminent SEO

The AMP framework coincides with existing HTML coding but allows publishers to create lightweight webpages – pages that are simpler and faster because they use fewer parts. The entire project is essentially just a set of specifications, both requirements and restrictions, powered by JavaScript (although publishers cannot write their own JavaScript). CSS3 is used for customized styling, and every page is cached on Google’s servers, working like a content delivery network.

So how much faster are AMPs? With advanced coding, the median load time is a mere 0.7 seconds, according to SearchEngineLand.com. That’s incredibly quick, especially when you compare it to all other pages on the web with non-AMP coding – which average 22 seconds.

How AMP Content Is Moving Across Industries

Although similar, AMPs are quite different from traditional webpages. If website happens to offer different versions of a particular page (such as desktop, mobile and AMP versions) for different devices, your mobile search engine will always prefer the AMP material. This could be the future of instantaneous search results, and the platform’s reach is widening.

In the beginning, AMP specifically catered to news stories. It’s already transitioning, though, opening up to new companies and industries daily. Take eBay, for example. The online auction site has deployed an AMP-powered shopping experience for mobile users since June 30. It has more than 8 million queries, known as “browse nodes,” already available or in production. AMP results can be a vital part of almost any company’s marketing strategy.

EBay AMP Content Moving To All Industries - Eminent SEO

Not only is the AMP platform opening up to new industries, but other search engines are beginning to subscribe as well. Just last month, Microsoft announced that Bing has joined the open-source effort, and that it plans to treat AMP content similar to how Google indexes and features it. This means that the platform has spread well beyond Google, and that the potential reach of AMP content is only going to continue to grow.

Google Is Pushing for AMP Growth

AMPs are a game-changer, especially considering that most internet searches are now done on a mobile device more often than on desktop and laptop computers. Always at the forefront of change, Google has been working hard to increase traffic to AMP pages.

The links to AMPs look identical to others, aside from the lightning bolt logo and “AMP” label tucked along the bottom. The carousel also remains, although it’s currently unclear whether Google has plans to remove it entirely and fully combine AMP results.

In recent news, Google has started integrating AMP content into the organic mobile search results, in addition to still offering the “Top stories” carousel of AMP-only content. The AMP logo is clearly visible now in the organic search results, right where the “Mobile-friendly” label used to be – ahead of the meta description for a particular entry.

AMP Content In Mobile Organic Results - Eminent SEO

AMP Results Now Outweigh Indexed App Content

In 2013, Google began indexing content from apps, and it generally only shows up to users who already have that particular app installed. What this means is that if you conduct a search and Google finds that you already have an app that has your answer, then you would see that content show up in your mobile search results. And if you click on that result, the search engine will take you straight to your app, rather than a webpage.

While Google is still indexing app content, its mobile search engine is now favoring AMP material over “app deep links.” Google’s head of global products partnerships, Adam Greenberg, made this revelation at the SMX East conference in New York last month.

This update shows how deeply committed Google is to the AMP platform for now and the near future.  The change might leave some app developers frustrated, but nonetheless, publishers need to adjust their focus to AMPs – rather than worrying about getting app content to rank in mobile search.

Will AMP Content Help Your Website Rank Better?

As of now, Google has no plans to make AMP material a ranking factor for websites. In other words, offering AMP content won’t necessarily give your entire website’s search rankings a boost.

However, Google almost always gives AMP content page one treatment when someone uses conducts a search via mobile. So producing AMP content may be a way to boost awareness of your website, especially if you’re having trouble cracking that first page organically.

Although it may seem a bit exclusive at the moment, the goal of the AMP project is to produce efficient and fast internet content. Richard Gingras, head of news and social products for Google, told the Nieman Journalism Lab that the AMP launch is a step forward for the technological ecosystem, with a shift toward better content performance.

Why the Search Engine Change Matters

Interestingly, AMPs are hosted on their own servers when visited from a Google search. This means using the AMP platform is a bit of a give and take. You’ll receive special treatment in the form of high search results and mass availability. However, the links point to Google, or whichever search engine someone used to find your AMP content.

This a significant change from the way Google has worked in the past. Previously, the web giant was simply an index that directed visitors to other sites. Now, AMPs can keep visitors exclusively on Google properties. Companies will need to ask themselves if they’re ready for higher visibility with little to no significant increase in actual traffic.

AMPs Are Like Instant Articles – Only Better

The AMP platform is comparable to Facebook’s Instant Articles, which gives content publishers the option to embed data onto the social network. When publishers utilize Instant Articles, followers can consume content without having to leave Facebook’s app.

Many are viewing the AMP project as a vast improvement over Instant Articles, since AMPs provide more opportunities to lead users to your full website.

What About Ads in AMP Content?

Mobile Ads In AMP Articles - Eminent SEOJavaScript is generally forbidden by AMP restrictions, but there are still ways for publishers to post ads, if they’re smart. There’s an analytics tag built into AMP content, which allows creators to send information to certain providers, such as Chartbeat, Adobe and Parse.ly. They’ve been pre-screened by Google, and the data is handled by one JavaScript file (instead of one for every analytic provider). Because this speeds up the process greatly, ads can be used in a similar way.

The AMP project vets analytic information by special criteria, including performance, privacy and security. Publishers can choose to use the AMP tag, similar to the traditional tag. Sections of JavaScript can be placed on the website, although it won’t include access to the same amount of data.

Taking Advantage of the AMP Platform

Wordpess AMP Plugin - Eminent SEOAMPs are well on their way to changing the internet (or, at least, mobile search), so why not take advantage of this platform? Some WordPress plugins are already available to help you craft a concise and functional website. WordPress’s AMP Plugin, for example, automatically translates your posts’ content to these fast-loading pages, and you don’t have to enter special settings for it to work. The software automatically inserts tags, so it’s fantastic for those with little HTML knowledge.

If your team includes a web designer (or if you have some coding background yourself), it’s easy to design a custom AMP page from scratch. The project’s homepage (see screenshot below) includes a huge selection of resources too, which will help you learn how to create the content on your own. You’ll also find a technical section to learn more about how AMP works, plus code samples, source code and documentation courtesy of GitHub.

AMP Project Website Homepage - ESEO

The AMP platform in continuously growing and changing, and it’s in the news almost weekly. At Eminent SEO, we’ve been following the AMP developments closely. It might seem like a lot to take in, but we can help. If you want to understand more about Accelerated Mobile Pages, what they can do for your business, and how to optimize them, trust our expertise to guide you. Call 800.871.4130 for help with building AMP pages today!

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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To App or Not to App: Should You Put More Resources into a Mobile Site or Mobile App?

Mobile Site Or Mobile App - Eminent SEO

“There’s an app for that.”

There’s an app for almost anything now. And this might be a problem.

If your business is ready to ramp up its online and mobile marketing, it may be enticing to jump into the app game. But, before you do that, let’s temper that excitement a bit and take a hard look at exactly the market you’d be getting into.

Smartphone usage continues to climb, but the app craze of the early 2010s appears to have died down to an extent. That’s not to say smartphone users aren’t still loading up their hard drives with apps and that some businesses aren’t excelling on the app front, but your company should be cautious before making the leap into the marketplace.

An alternative to entering the app field is to upgrade your existing website’s mobile experience. In a recent blog post, we explained the rationale and logistics of making a website mobile-friendly. Now, we’ll look at what’s worth more of your time and resources in 2016: a mobile app or your mobile site?

The Mobile Web Landscape

Mobile traffic and search queries began overtaking their desktop counterparts in 2014. It’s worth noting that desktop traffic continuously grew from 1990 to about 2010 and has since leveled off, although it remains consistent.

So, while internet usage via desktop has remained steady over the last few years, mobile web traffic is on a meteoric rise. When comparing mobile web browser traffic to app traffic, mobile websites are seeing more than 2 times the number of unique visitors, according to a 2015 Morgan Stanley report.

However, loyalties to mobile websites aren’t as strong as they are for apps, and that’s both a good and a bad thing for the mobile internet. Smartphone users spend a great amount of time in their apps – 87 percent of their total time on a smartphone, to be exact, according to a 2015 comScore report. This means individual sessions in an app are usually much, much longer than they are on a specific mobile website.

The Mobile App Landscape

Phone Apps - Eminent SEOAlthough mobile apps comprise most of the time we spend on our smartphones, a majority of users aren’t just seeking out the latest and freshest apps to download. Here are some sobering facts to keep in mind as you consider jumping into the app market:

  • Separate reports from Forrester Research and Nielsen over the last couple of years have found that while smartphone owners use an average of about 25 different apps each month, only their top five apps (which differs by person) are getting a lot of love – more than 80 percent of a user’s total time in any app, in fact.
  • As of late 2014, according to Forrester Research, users spent a disproportionately high amount of time in the five following apps: Facebook, YouTube, Maps, Pandora and Gmail. You may have noticed that Google owns three of those properties.
  • The app market is only seeing serious download activity from the top 7 percent of all smartphone owners who download and use apps. This small demographic of serial app downloaders is actually responsible for 50 percent of all download activities.
  • A strong majority (65.5 percent) of smartphone users don’t download a single app over the course of a month, according to a 2014 comScore report. Of those who do make a download within a month’s time, most are only adding 1-3 apps in that span.
  • According to Forrester, social media and communication (WhatsApp, etc.) apps consume 21 percent of all smartphone minutes, not counting phone calls and text messaging. Gaming, streaming video, news, weather, music and sports apps also take up large chunks of smartphone owners’ time.
  • Apps tend to keep much of their traffic contained. This means that smartphone users are generally more hesitant to click a link and leave an app than they would be when on a mobile site, or even the desktop version of a site.

Analyzing Mobile Apps vs. The Mobile Web

You may have seen that apps beat the mobile web by a landslide when it comes to what takes up a user’s time on a smartphone. However, you also learned that mobile websites see much more traffic as a whole than apps do.

There is a quasi-monopoly on the app market. Google and Facebook mobile programs are dominating the competition. Other apps have found success, but they don’t account for nearly the amount of usage that Google and Facebook properties do.

On the other hand, the mobile web seems to be fostering healthier competition. Mobile web users appear to spread their attention over a wider range of properties, and they’re more likely to find a site they’ve never visited before.

Mobile web looks like the clear winner here going forward, but before we discuss how you can get a leg up on the competition with your mobile website, let’s look at a couple of cases where an app might still be worth your time.

Where a Mobile App Would Make Sense

If you run a small local business or a B2B type of company, putting your money and time into an app this year will likely be a waste of resources.

However, for certain businesses, a mobile app could be a great way to extend the experience for someone who has interacted with the company before. This means that the individual has walked into your store or is well acquainted with your website.

A mobile app could enhance the experience a customer has already had with your business. For example, many sandwich and coffee shops have moved from punch cards to an online app when tracking customers’ visits. It’s a sensible upgrade, and very helpful to the customer, when done right.

Schlotzsky’s Lotz4Me app records how many sandwiches you have eaten until you’ve earned a free one, and you can use the app to see the sandwich chain’s menu and all locations.

Schlotzskys Lotz4Me - Eminent SEO

The app also features company news and offers, some of which can get pushed to alert your phone. Mobile websites lack the latter capability. As you might imagine, some of the information from the company’s website (locations, menu and even news) has been repurposed to fit in the app, but it all helps build a better experience than simply seeing how close you are to a free sandwich.

Apps such as these are a logical extension of a business’s normal offerings, whether they usually take place online or face-to-face. A supplemental asset like this helps lead to more purchases down the road, while also building more loyalty to and appreciation of the specific company.

The national sandwich chain example might not be the best one if you own a restaurant or other type of local business with only one physical location. Asking your customers to download an app when you only have one locale might be a stretch, but perhaps you now have a few ideas on what makes for an effective app for the average business.

SaaS Success

It’s worth mentioning that software as a service (SaaS) companies can excel on the app platform, too. If they can get their product in an app form to work as well as their desktop version, then it’s a win for them and their customers. Even so, you’ll notice that this situation still only applies to users who have had prior experience with the company behind the app.

Apps aren’t generally a great way for an existing brand to grow its audience. Users either download your app because they’ve done business with you in some other setting, or they just never even find out or care about your app. The average smartphone user isn’t scrolling through Google Play or the App Store just looking for another app to download. Many have phone storage limitations to worry about, anyway.

If you do go the app route, you may not put up Facebook- or Google-like numbers, but you can still find success on the platform if you’re able to create a worthwhile experience – one that differs from your website – for your existing customer base.

Making Your Mobile Site Competitive

Eminent SEO Mobile ScreenshotCreating a mobile app only works in specific circumstances, so if those conditions don’t apply to your business, take the resources you were going to put into an app this year and direct them toward your website.

This starts with infusing your website with responsive design. How to test your site’s responsiveness and how to get started on making it mobile-friendly were previously covered in one of our recent blog posts. See here.

Having a mobile-friendly site helps with search engine rankings, and it helps you better compete on the mobile web, where many big opportunities await. From there, it’s all about employing the best SEO practices and keeping your site replenished with plenty of appetizing, worthwhile content.

Instead of spending time having a developer create an app, go back and evaluate how your site looks and functions on various screen sizes. What needs to be present? What can be condensed or hidden? Your content team should get together with your developer and make sure your site is providing the best possible user experience on devices of all sizes.

And finally, your site’s pages need to load fast. Even a 2-second delay can make all the difference between a bounce from your site and a conversion. Google’s PageSpeed Insights will let you know if any pages on your site load slowly and what you can do to speed them up.

Google PageSpeed Insights - ESEO

Speeding Up Your Website

Here are some quick steps you can take to get your website running more smoothly and quickly, especially on mobile devices:

  • Reduce scripts and move them to the bottom of the page.
  • Mitigate the number of plugins your site utilizes. Deactivate and delete any plugins you no longer need.
  • Compress entire pages with tools like Gzip.
  • Enable browser caching, which benefits return visitors.
  • Crop your images to the exact size they’ll be displayed in a desktop browser. Remove any image comments in the file. Reduce the color depth of all images to 150 dpi or lower. Never use BMP or TIFF files.
  • Make sure you don’t have pages using more than one external CSS style sheet. To see if you have more than one external style sheet on any given page, use this tool.
  • If you have any elements that load slowly but are must-haves, consider moving them well below the fold, so at least the top of the page loads quickly.

Conclusion

Although Google has begun indexing content from mobile apps  meaning it can show up in the search results, mobile web still appears to be the clear winner when it comes to where you should invest your marketing dollars in 2016. It behooves you to put your focus into competing on the mobile SERPs (search engine results pages) rather than in the App Store or Google Play.

If users aren’t as loyal to individual websites as they are to their top five apps, that means there’s a good chance they’ll eventually turn their attention to your site and see what you have to offer them. You’ll have a better chance on that front than you will with trying to woo new customers in the app marketplace.

There are some instances where an app makes sense, as mentioned earlier, but in most cases, mobile web appears to be the way to go.

To get help from a team that can make your website mobile-friendly and more competitive in the world of mobile search, talk to the Eminent SEO team. Just call 800.871.4130.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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What Is Responsive Design and Why Your Website Should Have It in 2016

What Is Responsive Design - Eminent SEO

What Is Responsive Design?

C’mon, it’s 2016. Time to get with it already. If I land on your website from my smartphone and I have to “pinch to zoom” to read some of your text or see images in their entirety, I’m bouncing off the page.

Also, if the only suitable mobile representation of your company is an app or mobile-only website (such as m.website.com), I’m probably not going to be too happy either.

Robert Downey Eye Roll - Eminent SEO

This is because your website needs responsive design, an ability to deliberately adapt to screens large and small. Websites across the internet have been making the upgrade over the last few years, and just last year Google puts its final say on the matter by de-emphasizing sites that aren’t responsive.

Wait, doesn’t everybody have a responsive design? You’d be surprised. Take Reddit, for example. Other websites utilize responsive design but aren’t all too happy about it.

If your website is a little older and not optimized for mobile devices, 2016 is the year you should make the upgrade to responsive design. No more excuses. You owe it to your company and your website visitors to make your site responsive. While you’re at it, you might as well revamp the appearance of the site and its navigation, while also reviewing your current content and then cleaning it up and making it better.

Let’s dig a little deeper into what responsive design is and how you can go about implementing it in the near future.

‘Mobile-Friendly’ vs. ‘Responsive Design’?

The terms “responsive design” and “mobile-friendly” are close to being synonyms, and they’re often used interchangeably on blogs, web forums, social media, etc. Responsive design means the website can shrink or expand to fit all devices, whether a smartphone, tablet, monitor or even a TV screen.

A responsive website is mobile-friendly, but not all mobile-friendly sites are responsive. Some mobile-friendly sites simply shrink to fit your smartphone, appearing just as their desktop equivalents, only smaller. This isn’t true responsive design.

Responsive design also means that elements of the website will condense or disappear from the page as the device gets smaller and smaller, yet the layout and organization still makes sense to the user. The horizontal navigation on responsive websites usually gets condensed into a drop-down “hamburger”-style menu (although some designers are now advocating against the icon), as you can see with the green button below..

Mobile Eminent SEO Screenshot

Responsive design isn’t just about making a website look pretty no matter the device. It’s about fostering a great user experience no matter the device.

Many companies used to get around upgrading to a mobile-friendly website by building a separate phone app that looked and functioned very similarly to the desktop version of the site. Others created sub-domain sites with an “m” right before the website’s name, and these such sites featured either standalone mobile pages or stripped-down versions of the desktop equivalents.

Mobile IMDb Screenshot - Eminent SEO

You don’t have to go either route anymore. Some businesses still have legitimate reasons for creating a separate mobile app, but we don’t recommend doing this in lieu of making the main website mobile-friendly.

Google Rankings and Users’ Habits: The Importance of Responsive Design

SEO analysts disagree on the exact month when mobile search first began to overshadow that of desktop, but it looks like it happened somewhere between mid-2014 and early 2015. Smartphones are nearly ubiquitous now, and users are becoming more and more comfortable with turning to their phones first, rather than their desktop or laptop computers, to search the web, use apps, go on social media, etc. Mobile usage, including mobile search, is only going to continue to get more dominant in 2016.

Another game-changer that happened around the same time as mobile search’s rise to the crown was a Google algorithm update that began to accommodate mobile-friendly sites. This means that sites that weren’t responsive saw a dip in their search engine rankings. When you’re searching Google from a smartphone, you’ll even see the term “Mobile-friendly” show up before the meta descriptions of the applicable pages.

I searched for “Flower Store Phoenix” on my smartphone, and here are my results:

Flower Store Phoenix Mobile Search

There actually are some slight variations between the results after searching for the same term on a mobile phone and a desktop computer. Here is my search for the same term, but this time from a desktop:

Flower Store Phoenix Google Search

What’s interesting to note is that tablets don’t count as mobile searches, according to Google. The mobile-friendly algorithm update of 2015 only impacted searches via smartphones, not on tablets, laptops or desktops. Even if having a non-mobile-friendly site doesn’t negatively impact your rankings in mobile search, you’re missing out on scores of additional visitors because smartphone use is so prevalent now.

If users can’t find your site in mobile search and smartphones are the No. 1 device for search now, how can you expect your website’s visitation to grow?

Responsive Websites are a Part of Branding, After All

Making a website mobile-friendly is actually a component of a strong brand strategy. How? If somebody happens to have visited your site from a desktop before, they might land on your site on mobile search one day and say, “Hey, I’ve been here before.” But, if you’ve built a mobile site that looks and operates much differently than your primary site, then you have a disconnect in your branding.

Also, those who have visited your website via desktop and are familiar with the breadth of your content and navigation should have no trouble accessing your site with their smartphone and finding their way around, even if the navigation gets condensed into a hamburger menu. Making your site adjust easily to all screen sizes is a good strategy for keeping your longtime visitors around, as well as inviting and retaining new ones.

How to Test for Responsive Design

Not sure if your website already has responsive design? Not to worry. There are several free online tools you can use to give you the answer.

First, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your homepage or any sub-page of your website is responsive. Just type in any URL from your site, and Google will analyze it and provide you with the answer.

Second, you can go to ResponsiveTest.net and play around with different dimensions of your website. Just type in your URL at the top of the page. If elements of the site rearrange themselves, grow, shrink, etc., then you’ll know you have responsive design.

Eminent SEO Responsive Test Screen Size

A way to test your site without visiting another website is to take your browser out of full screen. Hover your cursor over the bottom-right of your browser and then shrink the window slowly. Shrink and enlarge it as much as you want, and see if elements of your website rearrange, compress, disappear and reappear. If so, great! Your work is done (unless you notice that the website could look a little better at certain sizes).

Difference Between Responsive and Adaptive Web Design

You may have heard the term “adaptive web design” as well. This has to do with coding the website for pre-defined dimensions and deciding what to fit on the screen and what to leave out. For example, the developer would have to code the website differently for smartphone, tablet and desktop/laptop monitor sizes.

In short, adaptive design takes more work than responsive, and you end up spending more money because your developer will need more time to complete all of that work. It also could put you in a bind as new devices with unique screen sizes hit the market in the future.

Some say a responsive website takes a little longer to load than a site with adaptive design, but pretty much everybody is focusing on responsive design right now. In fact, some developers would argue that adaptive design is a component of the responsive process, since you still want to test the look of your website at some of the more common screen sizes, even though responsive allows the site to adjust to any device.

The aforementioned ResponsiveTest.net gives you options for viewing your website at the screen sizes of dozens of the most popular devices on the market. Just look to the upper-right corner of the page for these icons:

ResponsiveTest Screen Size Icons

How to Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Now that you’re likely convinced to implement responsive design on your old, static website, let’s look at some ways you can make the upgrade.

If your website is coded by hand, this Google Webmaster Central Help Forum thread will give you a good start on how you (or your programmer) can make the site mobile-friendly. A high level of technical expertise is required if you want to go this route.

A more recommended direction is to migrate your site to a content management system (CMS), if you don’t utilize one already. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are some of the most popular CMS’s on the market. If you do decide on this option, we’d highly recommend reworking and redesigning your website in general, since it’s likely outdated.

Redesigning Your Website While Making It Mobile-Friendly

Redesigning your site entails looking over your navigation and all of your content to see what needs to be included on the new site and what can be dropped for the best user experience. For example, if you have service pages that only have a couple of paragraphs of copy and nothing else, you’re probably either going to want to add much more content or just work that copy into a larger service overview page.

It’s going to take a few, long hours with your programmer and/or web developer, and even your content team, to decide on the final look and navigation of your new, responsive website, all controlled by the CMS of your choice. Brace yourself.

We Can Help

If upgrading your website with responsive design sounds daunting and you’re not sure if you have the team or resources to make it happen, outside help is always available. Eminent SEO can help you strategically build and design a new, responsive website, and we’ll set you up with an easy-to-use CMS if you don’t already use one. To learn more, see our wide range of Website Creation services.

If you’re ready to get started now on making your current website mobile-friendly, contact Eminent SEO at 800.871.4130.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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The Google Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update Is Coming April 21st

Every year Google updates their algorithm 100’s of times. Last year there were over 500 updates. Yes, many of them are simple data refreshes, but there were also quite a few significant algorithm updates. You might be familiar with some of the bigger ones over the last few years, such as Panda, Penguin and Pigeon. So, what’s next?

Google-Mobile-Friendly-Algorithm

Enter the Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update

There is no official name for this algorithm update yet, so marketers are calling it the “mobile-friendly” update. Hopefully they won’t taint the name of another cute, small animal that starts with a “P” (what could it be the Piggy update? Pheasant? Pale Fox? I digress…).  Google did announce the specific date, however, so we can confirm that it will begin rolling out on April 21st, 2015.

So, what is going to happen come April 21st?

I am not a psychic, so please know that some of this is speculation since the update is yet to roll out. However, I have done quite a bit of research on the subject, so this post is an attempt to bring you real information collected from the online marketing community.

It appears this update is going to impact:

  • Mobile App Indexablility and Rankability in Mobile Search
  • The Rankability of Websites with a Mobile App Available
  • Website Rankings on Mobile Search

Since most of the questions I get from our clients are related to their website’s ability to rank and how they will be impacted by this algorithm update, that is where I am going to focus. If you are more technical and want to read more about the subject, I highly suggest this post on the Moz Community blog from Cindy Krum: 9 Things You Need to Know About Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update.

Your Mobile Website Questions Answered

Is mobile search really that big?

Many online marketers were predicting mobile search would overtake desktop search by the year 2014 and they were right. A recent report from comScore shows mobile search actually overtook desktop within the last year:

Mobile-Search

This means that there is a good chance that a lot of your website traffic is coming from mobile search. In our client pool we see anywhere from 30%-60% of total web traffic is coming from mobile queries on average, sometimes more.

Other Mobile Stats:

  1. 80% of internet users own a smartphone
  2. Popular devices used to search the internet:
    • Desktop/Laptop: 91%
    • Smartphone: 80%
    • Tablet: 47%
    • Game Consoles: 37%
    • Smart TV’s: 34%
  3. 40% of mobile searches are local
  4. 81% of mobile conversions happen within 5 hours of the search
  5. 85% of mobile users prefer to use an app over a website

Do I need a mobile or responsive website?

YES! Did you read the statistics above? Mobile search has already taken over desktop search and the numbers will only continue to increase this year. More and more people are using their mobile devices to search and buy, so if your website isn’t mobile-friendly you are overlooking an important part of your user experience.

Also, come April 21st there is a good chance your website will lose its ability to rank well in the mobile search results. Why? Because Google wants to serve their mobile users the sites that are formatted well for mobile devices. Google is always aiming to provide it’s users with the best websites and information available. They understand that users are going to be frustrated with the results of their query if they land on pages that aren’t mobile-friendly. How frustrated are you when you search for something from your phone and the result you click on produces itty-bitty content that is impossible to read? Or navigation you can’t even click on? No thank you.

Responsive-Website

What is the difference between a mobile website and a responsive website?

When mobile search first started to become popular, many website owners and website designers/developers believed you needed a separate mobile site or landing page. This resulted in thousands of sub-domain sites (think m.yourdomain.com) and standalone mobile pages, designed specifically for use on smartphones.

Typically a mobile site is a scaled back version of the desktop website, which can include limited content, images and pages. It also is coded so that anytime a smartphone user visits your website the code will recognize the device and provide them with the mobile version automatically.

A responsive design is a website developed to scale to any size and type of device – desktop, tablet or mobile phone. Unlike mobile sites, it’s NOT a separate site, but rather a code that adjusts the design to fit the screen dimensions of the browsing device:

Responsive-Design

All things considered, a responsive site is a better solution long term than a mobile site. Why? For starters, a responsive design is better for SEO. Mobile sites are developed on sub-domains and responsive sites host mobile code on a single domain.

Another huge added value is the consistency it provides to your user experience. If I visit your website from my desktop and later I decide to visit your website from my smartphone, I want to see the same information. If you hide information from me because I am on my phone, I am going to become frustrated. A responsive design ensures that repeat visitors can access all of the content and information your site has to offer, regardless of which device they are searching from.

How do I know if my site is mobile-friendly?

There are actually quite a few free tools on the market that will check for mobile or responsive design and even show you a preview of your site, per device. I’ve used http://www.responsinator.com/ but it isn’t perfect and only gives you a preview – it doesn’t give you any real data:

Mobile-Friendly

Instead, Google rolled out a new Mobile-Friendly testing tool, which will analyze a URL and give you a report back on if that page has a mobile-friendly design:

Mobile-Friendly-Test

Keep in mind, however, this is just a tool and therefore doesn’t replace the need to manually review your site to ensure the user experience is the very best it can be. I always advise clients to also Google their site from their smartphones if they want to see what a user sees. Naturally each type of phone is slightly different, so if you want to really evaluate your site design manually, ask a friend with a different device to look it up for you – be sure to check your site on an iPhone AND an Android device.

It’s also important to note that there are other tools you should also use to determine how mobile-friendly your website is. The Google mobile-friendly tool above gives you a “yes” or “no” and a quick screenshot of your site as Google sees it on a mobile phone:

Mobile-Phone

They also give you specific recommendations for areas you should fix to make your site mobile-friendly.

But, you should also use these two other tools if you really want to know how mobile ready your site is:

Google’s PageSpeed Insights Test Tool – This tool gives you insights into your website loading times, including your mobile page speed. It also gives you other recommendations on things you should fix. You should note that unlike the mobile-friendly tool which looks at the page like a Googlebot would, the PageSpeed tool fetches the page as a user would. Very different, which is why you should use both tools.

Lastly, you should also use the Mobile Usability Report option in your Google Webmaster Tools account. Simply log in and navigate to the Mobile Usability Report. Once you run the report you will be provided with specific details on which pages are pulling a usability error. Example:

Mobile-Usability-Report

Google has also been sending out notifications through Google Webmaster Tools to sites that don’t meet the new mobile-friendly requirements. If you haven’t received an email you likely have a mobile-friendly site. However, you can confirm by checking your messages in Webmaster Tools.

Do tablets count as mobile devices?

No. Surprised? I was at first too. However, according to this post on Search Engine Round Table by Barry Schwartz: Google Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Will Not Impact Tablet Searches “the algorithm will only impact searches done on smartphones – only. This does not impact desktop searches and it does not impact tablet searches.”

Tablet-Searches

This is good to know, but doesn’t change the fact that a significant amount of search traffic is coming from smartphones specifically. So, the potential loss in traffic is still significant.

Will I lose traffic on April 21st if my site isn’t mobile-friendly?

Yes. Unlike other major algorithm updates, Google has actually provided the public with an advanced warning on this one, giving you plenty of time to fix your site:

“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.”

– Google

You can read the full official announcement from Google here.

To be clear – this is specific to mobile search. So, if you have great keyword rankings and traffic from desktop searches, those should NOT be impacted at this time. However, as mentioned above, if you are getting 30% or more of your traffic from mobile search queries (which is typical) than if your site is not mobile-friendly, you WILL DEFINITELY LOSE TRAFFIC.

The Nutshell

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly you will likely lose a significant amount of traffic come April 21st. Even if that number is low right now, keep in mind that mobile search is still on the rise and will only continue to grow over the next few years. If you own a website and you are planning for the future, now is the time to integrate a solid strategy for creating a great mobile experience for your site users.

If you need help developing a mobile website and marketing strategy, give us a call: 800.871.4130.

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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5 Reasons You Need a Responsive Website Design

Responsive Design from ESEO Banner

“Response design” – it’s a fancy term for a simple concept:  making sure your website functions well across all major devices people use to browse the internet these days (smartphones, laptops, tablets, iPads and PCs).

In 2011, approximately 1.15 billion of all internet users browsed the web with a mobile device, which compares to the 1.3 billion that viewed the internet with a desktop computer. Fast forward that to 2014 projections, which have about 1.9 billion mobile internet users, compared to about 1.7 billion desktop internet users (according to DigitalBuzzBlog.com’s infographic).

So, now you see from a high level why responsive design is no longer an option… it’s a MUST!

5 More Specific Reasons You Need a Responsive Website

Even though the market demands responsive design, there are many more reasons to develop one, including:

  1. Google demands it for good rankings – Hey, Google’s all about serving up the highest quality results for searchers.  Part of quality means Google evaluates your mobile website design. Search Engine Journal, a leading online magazine on the latest search engine news, notes Google refers to responsive web design as its recommended mobile configuration and even industry best practice.
  2. Easier to manage SEO – The alternative to a responsive design is to create separate websites for separate device types.  If you’re an adept business person, be aware that this requires 2 separate SEO campaigns.  Why not condense both into 1 and cut your internet marketing efforts in half?
  3. It’s cost effective – Not only is responsive website development a good business practice from an SEO perspective, but it’s good from a design perspective too.  Could you imagine how much it would cost to design a separate website for laptops, smartphones, and PCs, and then optimize and manage each for years to come?
  4. Makes life easy for searchers – Today’s instant gratification consumer won’t try to figure out how to best view your website.  If you serve it up for any device they might view it on right away, they’re much more likely to stay around and subscribe to your website.
  5. It’s easy to find critical information – A desktop/laptop design, which has plenty of viewable space, makes it easy to find your contact information and to navigate around your website.  But, if you only designed for a PC, then the design may not display as well for mobile users.  If they have to exert additional effort figuring out how to contact you or use your website, how likely are they to eventually become paying customers?

Responsive is Quickly Becoming the Standard, so Why Not Act Now?

If you don’t already have a responsive design, it’s clear you’ll need one in the very near future. By acting now, you’ll save yourself a ton of headaches down the road.

Doesn’t that make good business sense?

Eminent SEO offers full Mobile and Responsive Website Design and Development services. Give us a call if you need help moving your site into 2013! (800) 871.4130

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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