Friday, April 17, 2015

Ensure your small business website is mobile-friendly

small business Australia mobile friendlyIf you're running a small business in Australia or anywhere in the world for that matter - and you're connected with some type of business network, then chances are that you're well aware of the impending change on April 21 to the way in which Google will be evaluating websites.

This change will mean that websites that are NOT mobile friendly in their design could very likely suffer a drop in their organic (unpaid) search ranking. This is especially true if the search enquiry itself originates from a mobile device.

But if you hadn't been aware of this fact - then you really need to read the rest of this post carefully.

If you already know about this - then you might find it more useful to check out some of our other posts that could be of more interest, such as getting control of your finances, or personal productivity, or maybe building mental toughness

Action might be needed to protect your small business website from a Google penalty

If your small business is in any way reliant upon your website for generating enquiries and sales - and in particular if your website has successfully ranked well in Google (ie. first page organic results) for your targeted keywords - then you need to ensure that your website is designed to be mobile friendly.

If you are fortunate enough to have a Wordpress platform, then this is generally built in what is often referred to as a "responsive" design and you don't have to worry.

Responsive web design is one that is built to provide an "optimal viewing experience"— in other words, it is considered to offer easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices. Devices now-days range from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones.

Google has recognised that a rapidly increasing number of the users / customers of their search engine are using mobile phones when performing a search - and hence the change by Google to give a preference to business websites that offer their users a better experience. Google have recently been attempting to give business owners some reassurance by emphasising that mobile-friendliness of a site is only one signal of many other signals that they use in their assessment.

Adwords is not affected by the change

However the change that Google is introducing will not affect any paid advertising that you might be doing. You only need to be concerned if your business relies upon the organic or natural, unpaid search performance of your website.

What you can do

I attended a luncheon recently, organised by the Bank of Melbourne (check out their Small Business Toolbox) especially for SME owners, and had the pleasure of listening to Leonie Valentine from Google, their Director of Customer Experience APAC. She confirmed that Google will be expanding the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal and that this will impact upon organic search results across all languages world-wide. However some resource sites that might help you include ....
  1. Test if your site is mobile friendly
  2. Go to your Webmaster Tools account - and you should be able to access a Mobile Useability Report
  3. Developers guide to mobile friendly sites 
  4. Principles of mobile site design
In summary

Well, this is just another one of those changes that you simply have to adapt to when you're running a small business. But you can't afford to ignore the urgency around this.

Yes, chances are that it will cost you some money to address this issue, if you do discover that your website is not mobile-friendly ......It recently cost me around $2,500 to migrate my management training website across to a responsive mobile-friendly design - but it would have cost me a lot more if I didn't. The developer I used here in Melbourne was WebGenius - but check in with your own network and see what contacts they might have.

Before I finish, here's a video clip from Google Webmasters Central Blog, in which the speaker refers to some basic tools available to help small business ensure their websites are mobile-friendly

Hope this has helped point you in the right direction - Cheers

About the author
Brian Carroll is the founder of Performance Development, a training business in Melbourne, Australia.  He is an experienced management coach with a passion for helping people achieve their goals in life and business. You can find out more about Brian at his Google + profile