News flash: The time to make your website mobile friendly is right now. Every year since 2009, marketers have proclaimed this will be the year mobile marketing matters. And then, from the perspective of the average business owner, nothing changes. Sure, you could see an increase in people using smartphones and tablets, but, in terms of an impact on your company, it was business as usual.
Then, in 2015, Google did two things that instantly made 2015 the year of mobile.
First, on April 21, a day that would become known by marketers as “Mobilegeddon,” Google updated its algorithm, giving a rankings boost to sites deemed mobile friendly. Of course, this also had the effect of punishing sites not passing Google’s mobile-friendly guidelines. And, as most of you probably know, lower rankings on Google mean fewer website visits, leads, and sales.
While some HVAC contractors and their Web marketing teams raced to update their sites before Mobilegeddon, Google made another announcement: For the first time in history, the volume of searches from mobile devices exceeded those made from desktop PCs.
With these two Google-driven events, everything changed. Suddenly, mobile marketing went from a future consideration to an immediate, strategic concern.
Why Isn’t Everyone Mobile Friendly?
It’s one thing to ignore a bunch of marketers preaching the importance of mobile. It’s another to ignore what is arguably the most powerful marketing platform on the planet. In any given month, I speak with dozens of business owners from the HVAC industry, and virtually all of them want to grow their businesses and increase profitability. Most acknowledge their websites as their most valuable marketing asset — a growth engine for their businesses.
But, despite Google’s recent actions, many are not paying attention to their mobile efforts. I went back and retested all of the sites I’ve analyzed as part of the Net Results column. A full 20 percent still do not pass Google’s mobile-friendly test. Considering that it costs peanuts to make a website mobile friendly, it’s baffling to me why anyone would continue to post a site that fails Google’s test.
Testing Your Site
No matter the situation, I’d strongly encourage you to visit this Google-created page and test your site: http://www.ismysitemf.com. Enter your website’s address in the box on that page and hit the Analyze button. In a matter of seconds, Google will tell you whether your website is mobile friendly or not. If your site does not pass, Google will give you a list of things that need to be fixed. Any reputable Web firm can help you make the necessary adjustments.
Does Your Mobile Site Pass the Human Test?
Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool is a piece of software. Software, for all of its benefits, is fallible. Pull your website up on your phone. See if your logo, phone number, key benefit statements, and calls-to-action are easy to read, navigate, and click. If your site passes Google’s test, but looks and functions like crap to actual human visitors, you’re missing the point.
Users First, Search Engines Second
For years, Google has recommended business owners, marketers, and webmasters optimize their websites for humans first, search engines second. Sure, every business owner wants to rank on Google, but there’s no point in getting your site to rank if the people who would actually hire you visit your site and instantly leave out of frustration.
The Opportunity for Savvy Contractors
Staying up to date with the latest trends in digital marketing is difficult, but it’s possible. There’s an enormous benefit for savvy small- to medium-sized HVAC contractors that manage to pull it off. Smaller contractors may not have the advertising budgets required to compete with the leaders in their respective markets, but they often forget something they do have — speed.
While you may not have a search engine optimization (SEO) budget that supports daily blogging, you almost certainly have the $500 or so required to make your HVAC company’s website mobile friendly. Doing so will boost your mobile search results above some of your larger competitors.
Weighing Your Mobile-friendly Options
There are several options for making your website mobile friendly. The two most common are creating a mobile-specific version of your site or rebuilding your website using responsive design. Building a mobile-specific version of your site may seem a whole lot easier and cheaper than completely rebuilding your website, but, over the long-run, it’s actually the more expensive option.
With a mobile-specific site, anytime you update a page on your website, you have to update it in two different places. Not only does this take more time, but it opens up a world of possibilities in terms of introducing errors to your site.
Rebuilding your website using responsive website design means you’ll only have one version of your site. The look and feel of a responsive site automatically adjusts to be whatever is best for the device being used.
What matters in marketing — just like what matters in life — can change in an instant. Although marketers have been preaching the importance of mobile presentation for years, it really didn’t matter until Google took action earlier this year.
Websites that pass Google’s mobile-friendly test will rank higher in the mobile, organic search results than those that don’t. For the first time in history, the volume of searches from mobile devices has exceeded those conducted from desktop computers. As if all this wasn’t enough, most local HVAC contractors gain as much as 50 percent of traffic from visitors using mobile devices.
Simply put, mobile matters — a lot. With change comes opportunity. Despite the fact that Mobilegeddon has come and gone, there are still plenty of sites that are not mobile friendly. This means there’s a great opportunity for savvy HVAC contractors of all sizes to get a jump on their competitors. So, what are you waiting for?
Publication date: 5/25/2015