Studies Show the Increasing Importance of Mobile-Friendly Websites

March 23 / Chair 10 Marketing Team / filed under SEO

Smartphones are becoming increasingly significant in today’s digital society. They can do many incredible things, such as track your fitness while you work out, identify a song playing in a grocery store, and even turn your house lights on and off from a diff. Business owners who underestimate the prevalence of smartphones by not having a mobile-friendly website have likely already seen a drop in their site’s traffic.

(Website Traffic) Numbers Never Lie

According to a study titled “Digital in 2016” by global agency We Are Social, there are 3.790 billion unique mobile users across the world. To put that in perspective, over 51% of people on Earth use a mobile device. The study also published numbers regarding what percentage of web traffic comes from a variety of device types. Website page views from desktops and laptops have gone down 9% from last year to be responsible for just 56% of all web traffic. Page views from mobile phones are at 39%, having increased 21% from the agency’s 2015 study. In the United States, 27% of all web traffic comes from mobile phones, and that number is only expected to keep rising.

American Smartphone Usage

The Pew Research Center, a nonprofit organization that studies topics such as media, science, and technology, announced in late 2015 that 68% of all Americans have smartphones. That number has drastically increased from 35% in 2011. What’s perhaps more interesting is the percentages when considering the different age groups. 86% of young adults ages 18-29 have a smartphone. What may surprise some people is that individuals age 30-49 are not far behind with 83% owning a smartphone. Smartphones may also be taking the place of computers as “all-purpose devices.” While 88% of adults in the U.S. owned a laptop or desktop in 2010, that number has decreased to 78% in 2015.

Non-Mobile Websites Penalized by Google

In April of 2015 Google started making some big changes regarding SEO rankings on mobile phones in an initiative to expand the use of “mobile-friendliness” as a ranking signal. This change, now in effect, is to ensure that mobile Google Search users will see high-quality mobile-friendly websites for the terms they are searching instead of websites that are not optimized for mobile phones. This means that a non-mobile-friendly website that ranks highly on Google for a certain keyword while using a desktop computer would rank lower if the same keyword was entered into Google on a smartphone. Google has stated that this change affects all languages and countries. To aid in the transition, Google released its Mobile-Friendly Test Tool for website owners who are unsure if their site is mobile-friendly. Below you can see an analysis of the website of a film released in 1996 (Space Jam, an American classic) compared to the website of a film released in 2015 (Inside Out, which is amazing).

Space Jam: Not Mobile-Friendly                                Inside Out: Mobile-Friendly!

Benefits of a Mobile-Friendly Website

There are many benefits to building a mobile-friendly website for your business or organization, the most important being not falling victim to “mobilegeddon” and disappearing from the top mobile Google Search results. An experiment by Moovweb found that after Google put its algorithm in effect, 77% of search results on the first page of Google results were mobile-friendly. Having a mobile-friendly site is vital to any business or organization’s success. Your website will be exposed to more people for greater awareness and your current customers will appreciate the ease of access to content, contact information, and clearer links to social media pages. A mobile-friendly website can even improve SEO and raise web traffic numbers higher than what they were before non-mobile-friendly sites were penalized on Google’s mobile search platform. It’s true, in 2016 a mobile-friendly site is less of an option and more of a necessity.