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Just how important is having a website that’s mobile-friendly?

It’s a valid question to ask because there’s both time and money required to ensure a website will perform well when accessed from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

There are two primary reasons to make your website mobile-ready:

1. Improved ranking on Google.

In April 2015 (a time called “Mobilegeddon” by many), Google began showing favor to mobile-friendly websites. Websites that provide a good user experience (simple to navigate, sized for mobile screens, etc.) on mobile devices rank higher than non-mobile-ready sites in search results for mobile users.

Also, Google has announced plans to implement mobile-first indexing, using the mobile version of the web as its primary consideration in ranking websites. When the algorithm change becomes universal, it will increase the importance of having a mobile-friendly website.

2. Better response from website visitors.

Naturally, website visitors will spend more time on a website that makes it easy to find the information they’re looking for and see it properly without having to make manual adjustments to make the font readable. If your website was designed only for desktop viewing, people who view it from mobile devices are likely to find it frustrating — and they’ll probably leave it to look at your competitors’ mobile-ready websites instead.

With the volume of online searches on mobile devices on the rise, in fact surpassing those done from desktops, you could put yourself at a competitive disadvantage if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website.

According to Google, people are 60% less likely to purchase from a business in the future if they have a bad experience with the company’s website.

What if you’re not sure if your website is mobile-friendly?

You can assess your website’s mobile-friendliness by using Google’s free mobile-friendly test tool. It will analyze your web pages and provide suggestions for improvement.

What if your website isn’t mobile-friendly yet?

Your options for making your website mobile-friendly include:

» Having a site created with responsive design.

» Having a separate mobile site created in addition to your existing site.

With the responsive web design technique, web pages adjust to the device’s screen (desktop, tablet, or mobile phone) on-demand. One benefit of a responsive site is that you need only maintain a single website. Another is that responsive design will work with new iOS and Android device models automatically, which eliminates the need to redesign your site whenever a new device becomes available.

With a separate mobile website, you end up having two websites — one that people access when on desktop computers and another that people access when using mobile devices. Your desktop and mobile sites would have separate URLs, design, content, page structure, etc.

Besides the disadvantages of having to pay for and maintain more than one site, it might also confuse customers — this is especially likely if the two sites don’t have similar navigation. One other downside is that having two websites could make SEO efforts more complicated and less effective.

Where should you turn for help?

A reputable and experienced website development company can provide the guidance and technical expertise to develop and execute your mobile-friendly strategy. Consider asking other business owners for recommendations. You also can reach out to SCORE to talk with a mentor. SCORE mentors have experience in all aspects of starting, growing and marketing a small business, and they can help connect you with reliable resources.

For more information about starting or operating a small business, call SCORE at (434) 295-6712 or visit centralvirginia.score.org.

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