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Ask SCORE: Does Your Small Business Really Need a Mobile-Friendly Website?

Mark Klipsch of the St. Louis Bi-State region of SCORE offers advice to small businesses that are considering the effectiveness of their websites:

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

It’s a valid question to ask because both time and money are 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-friendly:

1. Improved Ranking on Google:

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 Visitors:

Naturally, website visitors will spend more time on a website that makes it easy to find the information they’re looking for, and to see it properly without requiring manual adjustments to make the font readable. If your website was designed for only 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 percent less likely to purchase from a business in the future if they have a bad brand experience on a mobile website.

Not Sure If Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly?

You can assess your website 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:

Creating a site with responsive design

Creating a separate mobile site in addition to your existing site.

With the responsive web design technique, website pages adjust to the device’s screen (desktop, tablet or mobile phone) on demand. One benefit of a responsive site is that you need to maintain only 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 using desktop computers and another that people access 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 also might confuse customers — this is especially likely if the two sites don’t have similar navigation. One other potential downside: 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 can also 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 to connect you with reliable resources.

Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 11 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 10,000 volunteer business mentors in more than 300 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800-634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE at www.score.org.

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