Mobile Internet Usage Has Surpassed Desktop
In October of 2016 StatCounter noted the first time internet access via mobile devices exceeded access via desktop devices. This moment was a global moment. The sum total of all internet users worldwide now access digital information via a mobile device more than they do a desktop computer.
In the US that moment will come very soon. As of October of last year mobile and tablet internet usage was at 42% and on the rise, while desktop usage has declined to 58%.
According to Com-Score there is also a trend in the US to access the internet exclusively on mobile devices. As desktop only access has declined steadily since March of 2014, mobile only access has risen. By March of 2015 there were more US users who accessed the internet exclusively via mobile device than those that accessed exclusively via desktop.
Beyond Mobile-Friendly to Mobile-First
So much buzz was generated in April of 2015 when Google first updated its organic search algorithm to favor mobile-friendly sites in organic search rankings. Many businesses large and small scrambled to make more of their online presence friendly to people using mobile devices. But “Mobilegeddon,” as it was then termed, was really only the beginning of a process to transition Google into a world where people preferred to reach for a smartphone for quick information rather than go to a desk to access a computer.
In early November of last year, Google began rolling out their mobile-first index. The most accessed search engine in the world now prefers mobile content over desktop content. Google has also changed much about the search experience across the board over the last few months to favor mobile device users. Gone are the side rail ads and multimedia information. Now the Google desktop search looks and behaves like the mobile version.
Making the Full Transition to Mobile
At this point, the option to create a stripped down app version of your site or duplicate a few critical pages as mobile.yoursite.com are really not the best options if you want to continue to be visible on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The best and last option left to businesses is to think about all of their digital content through the screens of a smartphone first and then utilize responsive design to scale up for desktop visitors.
More Than Responsive
Although making your content fit the smaller screens of a smartphone is important, for most businesses it’s only the starting point. Along with making your content easy to see and interact with on a small touch screen, there are several behind the scenes functions that are critical to your online success.
The Need for Speed
Far and away the factor that still keeps most responsive websites from earning excellent marks from Google for “mobile-friendliness” is how quickly the pages load over a cellular data network. Yes, most mobile devices have access to wifi connections wherever they may roam, but those network connection speeds vary greatly from place to place and even depending on time of day in the same place. How often to public wifi connections at the local Starbucks or Panera warn visitors that access and connection speed may be limited during peak times of the day?
Even though your site might have been designed for mobile screens, it may not perform as quickly as users demand. You will need to work closely with your web developer to address issues of media file size, looping redirects, multiple server calls, and much more before your site will load effortlessly no matter what connection your visitors may use.
The Need for Answers
Mobile devices have also changed the way people interact with digital content. More often than not they are looking for quick answers to very specific questions. Rarely does anyone search for short generic terms like “landscaper” or “landscaping” anymore. In 2017 you can expect people to tap the voice search function on their smartphone and ask Google about “how to get rid of dandelions in my yard” or to find a “yard service near me.” These searches are far more specific are are taking user context into account when providing results to solve the request.
Is your online content up to addressing not only your customer’s device, but their location and frame of mind?
How is your business positioned to help customers who carry the power of the internet in the palms of their hands?
If you need to dig deeper into how mobile devices are changing user behavior, read Micro-Moments: 3 Ways to Optimize for an Impulse Search.
If you need more information or guidance about how to make the move to mobile, contact us to request a site evaluation.