UPDATE: Please consult this March 9, 2015 Search Engine Journal article, Flawed Google Mobile Usability Test Results, by Alan Bleiweiss, for an extensive and well-researched discussion on how he has detected flaws in the Google mobile testing tools. Pay particular attention to his discussion on pages and files blocked in robots.txt, and how they can cause false ‘not mobile-friendly’ test results. This is a seminal article; we highly recommend reading it.
In light of that critical article, we also recommend that you broaden your base of mobile testing tools. Don’t just test once, test often and use several tools to help you create the best possible mobile user experience. Here is a good list of tools we found in the KISSMetrics article, 17 Testing Tools for Mobile UX.
As consumers we know that the convenience of our smartphones and tablets allows us to perform quick searches and make purchases much more easily and quickly than ever before. The trend towards mobile usage continues to explode. Gartner’s January 28, 2015 press release “Gartner Says By 2017, U.S. Customers’ Mobile Engagement Behavior Will Drive Mobile Commerce Revenue to 50 percent of U.S. Digital Commerce Revenue“, makes a number of prognostications for mobile, and reports on current data that proves mobile represents a growing slice of online purchasing, specifically: “A recent Gartner survey found that mobile commerce currently generates 22 percent of digital commerce revenue.”
Are you willing to risk losing your part of that growing revenue just because you haven’t optimized your website for mobile? There’s no more debate about it: It’s a fact that Google demotes websites that offer a poor mobile experience. Let’s look at how you can delight your mobile users, and simultaneously appease Google, who can demote your site in mobile search results if the site doesn’t provide a great mobile user experience.
Is there proof that a poor mobile experience will cost you in Google mobile search?
If you connect the dots, you will discover that Google has sent a number of definite signals over the last year or so that they are very serious about mobile user experience. The good news is that Google provides us with directives, tools and methods to help improve mobile user experience. First we will review the new mobile warnings sent through Webmaster Tools. This was definitively reported on January 19, 2015 by Barry Schwartz in Search Engine Land, “Google Sending Mobile Usability Warnings To Huge Number Of Webmasters.” Schwartz posited that these warnings, (along with the new mobile reporting in Webmaster Tools and Google’s mobile testing tool), pointed to a potential new mobile ranking algorithm.
Jennifer Slegg reported on January 29, 2015 about the Google mobile experience warnings in her article in TheSEMPost, New Google Mobile Algo: Google Begins Reducing Visibility for Non-Mobile Friendly Sites That Received Warnings. She stated that some people reported that desktop searches showed rankings remained steady, but marked drops were noticed on mobile searches for the same keywords.
Now that we have established that Google is quite serious about mobile user experience (and for that matter user experience as a whole), we want to provide you with the steps you need to follow to help get your site in compliance. Even if your site is already mobile friendly, there is always room for improvement.
Step 1: Organically Interactive can help you interpret and act on your Webmaster Tools mobile reports to refine your site’s mobile usability. Depending on the messages sent to you, we can go through them one by one to help clean up any problems. Often they have to do with such issues as users having to scroll to view the entire screen, or problems with unreadable fonts or buttons and navigation that are difficult to manipulate.
Step 2: Need some user feedback to refine your site’s mobile usability? We recommend you work with remote usability testing services, such as User Zoom or UserTesting.com, to recruit a variety of users in your chosen demographic. These services are very easy to use, and allow you to write up a script of tasks for people to complete on your mobile site. Ask about all of the service’s features before you sign up; typical features will allow you to view a video of users completing tasks and to hear their commentary. Ask if you can correspond with users after the tests; often this is included and very helpful. Actually watching users interact with your mobile site, and listening to their impressions, can allow you to gain critical insights that can prove much more valuable than hypotheses. [Please note: We have refrained from reviewing mobile user testing services, as we don’t wish to provide a specific recommendation. We want to let our readers know that these and similar services are available, that they are cost-effective, and that they can prove extremely helpful when working on a mobile redesign. Everyone’s needs are different, and you may wish to perform your own due diligence to find the right testing service for your needs.]
Goal outcomes: Definitely the most important result will be pleasing your audience and raising mobile conversion rates! Your new mobile design will help accomplish this, plus you can earn Google’s Mobile Friendly Label. This is an important designation; it helps users know when they see your site in the search results, that it is optimized for mobile. If you earn the mobile friendly label, think of it as a stamp of approval that can drive the targeted traffic you’re looking for.
Ready to push your mobile conversion rates through the roof? Earn Google’s Mobile Friendly Label! Organically Interactive can work with you and your webmaster to make it happen! Contact us today.