Should You Optimize Your Website for Mobile?

Nov 28, 2011   //   by Kaila Strong   //   SEO, SEO Blog  //  17 Comments

The trend of accessing the internet via mobile devices only continues to grow. From iPhones and Android phones to iPads and Kindle Fires, more and more mobile devices are used to access the Internet. The IDC reported in September that by 2015 “more U.S. Internet users will access the Internet through mobile devices than through PCs or other wireline devices”. Amazingly, an estimated 79% of websites today aren’t optimized for mobile devices.

I recently had a conversation with a client about this very topic, and why they should optimize their site for mobile. They’re an online retailer receiving a significant amount of traffic and as you’d expect many visitors are using mobile devices to access their site. Since their site wasn’t optimized for mobile it was no surprise that mobile performed significantly worse – bounce rates, conversion rates, returning visits, etc… In the end we came to the conclusion that it was completely essential that they optimize their site for mobile and we had enough proof to get higher ups to take into consideration this additional expense in their budget.

After my experience with this client I thought I’d share some of the areas I suggest you examine to determine if you should optimize your site for mobile. You might just be leaving money on the table!

Bounce Rate

Savvy mobile and online users absolutely hate a site that isn’t optimized for mobile, which can result in increased bounce rates. Examine how your mobile traffic performs on your site and pay particular attention to bounce rate. How does it compare to site averages? How about year over year? In Google Analytics this information can be found by selecting the advanced segment “mobile traffic”. If you were able to improve bounce rates how much more traffic would that equate to?

Conversion Rate

Does your mobile traffic convert better or worse than other traffic? If your site isn’t optimized for mobile it’s very likely that mobile conversion rates are much lower than site averages. A large difference between mobile traffic conversion rates and site wide average is a sign you should optimize your site for mobile. Using site average conversion rate and average traffic numbers determine how much potential profit your site is losing by not optimizing for mobile. In my client’s case it turned out to be tens of thousands of dollars per month!

Returning Visits

Visitor loyalty can be very important to keeping your online doors open. Examine visitor loyalty of mobile traffic – if visitors aren’t coming back as often (or at all) then having a site that isn’t optimized for mobile may be to blame.

Time on Site and Pages Per Visit

Other important factors to consider are time on site and pages per visit. If mobile visitors aren’t staying on the site as long as site wide averages, and if they aren’t visiting as many pages on your site then your unoptimized site may be to blame.

These are just a few areas you can examine in the analytics program you’re using to determine if you should optimize your website for mobile.

What areas do you examine to determine whether a site should be optimized for mobile?

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Kaila Strong

Kaila Strong is an avid tweeter (@cliquekaila), and marketer in the Phoenix area.

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  • Chris Cole says:

    Hi Kalia,

    Thank you for this post. I have been considering optimizing my blogs and niche sites for some time now for the smart phones. I am just not sure what plugin to go with (wordpress).

    My pet hate whenever I visit websites with my Iphone is the page load speed. This will be directly down to the optimization factors. So I guess, at times I can be one of the bounce rate stats…

    • Kaila S says:

      Good point – page load speed can certainly be to blame for high bounce rates. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine too…an unoptimized site AND horribly slow loading.

  • Elijah says:

    I’ve got eight buttons on the bottom of my website.
    It is an option on the website builder program I purchased.

    On June 23, 2011 Michael Stelzner founder of Social Media Examiner
    will have a Q&A session on Facebook at 1 pm eastern time, courtesy of share-sbi.
    I can’t post the link here because the moderator will delete it (my bad).

    That said, the link is in my profile. I’ll be on Facebook, hope to see you there.

  • Helen Speed
    Twitter:
    says:

    Really good advice I do a lot of my ‘out of work’ browsing on my HTC phone and I think we will be moving more and more towards mobile devices for accessing the internet.

    If you are a business that sells online and your site is not mobile ready you are definately leaving money on the table.

  • Marbella says:

    I do not think its time yet to optimize my website for mobile, it happens too much and too fast in the market today. But within a few years when all systems and applications have become more coherent, then I think its time to do it.

  • Ray says:

    I have used a couple of online tester things for my sites and a few of them make a suggestion to optimize for mobile. I will admit that I am not as tuned into the whole mobile optimization. It makes sense to do so. I just wonder if it varies from one mobile device to another. I have no idea if all mobile devices will display a site the same, or if they will be slightly different from one to another. It is something to think about and work on though.

    • Hi Ray, yes due to the size of the screen websites optimized for mobile devices will differ when viewed on different devices & phones. For a simple demo go to websitesformobiledevices.com & click on the simulator. You can overtype the URL with your websites URL to see what your site looks like. There are 3 types of phones/devices & some other demos.

  • Tessa says:

    The growth of using mobile device is very fast so it is very important to optimize the website for Mobile devices. Mobile friendly website helps to increase the leads and traffic for your business. Particularly it enhance the marketing with QR codes.

  • Having the mobile optimized website can definitely add some credit to your business and also it will add those extra mobile users. Nowadays number of companies try to en cash those opportunities provided by mobile users. I will definitely go for mobile optimized websites.

  • It’s important to consider the landing pages when comparing mobile to desktop traffic and I would concentrate more on HOW someone navigates your webpage and if they convert than the bounce rate or time on site, but it depends on your site.

    Mobile searches have a much higher rate of having a location extension. (I’ve heard 1/5 versus 3/5s from a Google convention) (Ex. used cars new york). So if you have location specific pages, mobile user may just be finding the right page with their one search.

    Having a 10% difference between mobile and your regular site bounce could be normal for many businesses. Also, 1 page visits count as 0 seconds on site for Google Analytics so time of site would also be reduced..

    Thanks for article.

  • Gracie says:

    very important to keeping your online doors open. Examine visitor loyalty of mobile traffic – if visitors aren’t coming back as often (or at all) then having a site that isn’t optimized for mobile may be to blame.

  • Shalani says:

    I don’t think I should optimize my website for mobile, I fond that using a phone for browsing the site is little bit hard for me.

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  • Andrew says:

    If your not using a mobile optimized site your missing out! Local search on smartphones will soon surpass desktop searches so providing mobile visitors with a better user experience is crucial.

  • Jamy Hoster
    Twitter:
    says:

    Its important now a days to optimize your site for cell phones as the number of smart phone users are increasing day by day mostly people like to read blogs and keep update throw there cell phones.