Mobile-friendly websites are top of mind to all HVAC marketing departments these days, and for good reason, your search engine optimization success may hinge upon it.
If you are grappling with the entire concept of mobile-friendliness and how to achieve it, check out the who’s, what’s, why’s and how’s to get started on your way to a website that works magic on mobile.
DRILLING DOWN ON MOBILE-FRIENDLY HVAC WEBSITE
Well, Google, of course – that’s who! In early 2015, Google began disseminating its plan to put mobile-friendly websites first, and the term Mobilegeddon was coined.
Later that same year (April 21st to be exact), Google rolled out its mobile-friendly algorithm update which those who were paying attention to search engine optimizations knew were thoroughly prepared for, and those weren’t, they were in for a rude awakening.
With that update, Google began boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results.
While it was focused on mobile results, the impact on search engine optimization was impactful across the board.
In the land of search engine optimization, many terms are confused, convoluted or simply not understood.
It’s never not a good idea to take a small step back when dealing with this complex channel for a definition of terms.
Two of these types of commonly confused search engine optimization-related terms are responsive and mobile-friendly.
Before we go further into the why’s of mobile-friendly HVAC websites, let’s be sure that we understand what these two terms mean:
Responsive Website Design – A responsive website is designed to be just what its name implies.
It responds to the device it is being viewed on.
So, it adjusts itself accordingly (and seamlessly, if developed correctly) to the iPad mini user, the Android phone user or the oversized desktop monitor.
Text, images and functionality to accommodate the size and technical change from screen to screen.
On smaller screens such as the iPhone, unnecessary images are hidden to make space for the vital information that the user is viewing the site on a smaller device needs.
Mobile-friendly Design – A mobile-friendly website is designed to operate in the same fashion across all devices.
While it still functions well in mobile or tablet environments, its look and functionality are consistent across the board.
Typically, a mobile-friendly site will be heavily tested to ensure it works well on smartphone and tablets, and these sites will typically avoid certain animation or navigational functionality that will not work in mobile.
While mobile-friendly sites are not considered the same as responsive design, they do optimize text, images and user functionality to accommodate the mobile user.
So, search engine optimization is about more than just your HVAC marketing engine finding a way to rank on page one of Google.
It is also inherently linked to your users and their online experience with your HVAC company.
Users are your customers and your prospective customers that visit you in some capacity on the internet.
These users may drop by your Google business listing to find your phone number, log on to your site to review their account or simply read about your company and then bounce away for reasons you’ll never know – but in any case and any device they choose, you want their experience to be the best it can be.
UX, not just a fancy term to through around at your HVAC marketing meetings. It’s very much about the user and the user’s experience.
Sites with slow-loading images, horizontal scrolls and text that requires a magnifying glass do not lend themselves to a positive user experience.
It seems obvious why search engines, such as Google, should not serve up these pages over others who provide an easy-to-use, mobile-friendly user experience.
The numbers don’t lie. We’re all on our phones, all the time. In October 2016, it became official.
According to StatCounter in the fall of 2016, mobile traffic officially surpassed desktop traffic on the internet, and it continues to trend upward.
What this means for search engine optimization is mobile can’t be ignored at minimal, and at best, it should be top priority because even if your users are predominantly there yet, they soon will be.
If you decided that mobile-friendly is the right decision for your online HVAC marketing initiative, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing you made the correct decision. (It’s not as if you had a choice if you want to succeed in search engine optimization, to be honest.)
The next obvious place to turn is the how. How do you achieve a truly mobile-friendly website?
Here are some tips to get you started on the path to mobile-friendly greatness.
Keep it simple, stupid. When designing sites for the desktop, it’s tempting to get very creative and in-depth with your navigation, but these bells and whistles can inhibit your mobile users’ experience and put a damper on your search engine optimization success.
Clear, concise content wins. Keeping your content fun, creative, engaging yet readable and clear on mobile devices is the challenge savvy content writers understand. Be sure to QA every page of your site to ensure it is readable on mobile.
Image size matters. Large images are shiny and pretty to look at on desktop but a nightmare to deal with on mobile. Your mobile-friendly website should have small and compressed images to help improve your users’ experience and protect your search engine optimization success rates.
While Google’s algorithm uses hundreds of ranking factors, creating a mobile-friendly HVAC website is now an undeniable goal every HVAC company should be striving toward.
Google is anticipated to continue rewarding sites that provide a stellar mobile experience and react negatively toward those who don’t.
As mobile usage continues to trend upward, it makes good sense to work toward this goal for your customers as well as your success in SEO.