The 2014 BrightEdge Mobile Share Report reveals even though mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets will soon constitute half of web activity, mobile websites are not optimized well enough to capture that opportunity. It says one in four mobile sites have flaws, which lead to a big loss in smartphone traffic. Due to implementation errors, Google and other search engines do not recognize these mobile sites relative to their desktop counterparts and as a result they are ranked lower than they deserve. The report also found if the marketers rectify the implementation errors, they can boost smartphone traffic by 200 percent. The report indicates that proper optimization of mobile websites is crucial when it comes to getting decent traffic from smartphones.
This research utilized BrightEdge’s Data Cube technology that empowers the BrightEdge platform to access billions of data pieces including content, search keywords, content and social data and reveal the unexploited opportunity in mobile traffic, conversions and revenue. The major findings of the report as per the press release released by BrightEdge are as follows:
- 27 percent mobile websites were not configured well for smartphone searches resulting in an average 68 percent decline in smartphone traffic to these websites
- 62 percent searches shown different results according to the platform (whether desktop or smartphone) from which the search was performed and the mobile search results were ranked ‘half a position lower’ than that of desktop results
- Smartphone traffic combined with the traffic from tablets forms a third of organic search traffic going to the websites. The total smartphone traffic share is expected to increase by 50% in 2014
- There is no significant difference between smartphone ranking based on different mobile configurations such as responsive design, dynamic serving and using separate mobile URLs
Though mobile rankings are not influenced significantly by the type of mobile configuration, the implementation error rates of separate URLs (72%) and dynamic serving (30%) are higher than that of responsive design, as per the report. If ‘no HTTP Vary header’ was a common error among both dynamic serving (82%) and separate URLs (41%) configurations, ‘no alternate URL tag’ was the common mistake among separate mobile URL (61%) approach. These implementation errors mislead search engines and also result in a poor user experience.
In his keynote address at Pubcon Las Vegas 2013, Matt Cutts made it clear that the mobile search rankings of sites that are not mobile-friendly will be negatively impacted. The BrightEdge report shows this to be true: smartphone ranking for sites with incorrectly implemented mobile solutions dropped by about 1.82 positions.
Companies need to be clear about their own mobile goals and the needs of their mobile audience for proper mobile site implementation. BrightEdge CEO Jim Yu points out that the latest trend is a hybrid approach – some brands are moving their sites to responsive design while layering other type of configurations include dynamic serving on top. Though this approach can provide a unique user experience for most important landing pages that drive conversions, implementation errors can occur and the site could be harder to maintain, says Yu. Brands should rely on specialists to implement optimal mobile solutions.
Though many brands do mobile implementation right for the first time, they won’t keep it correctly implemented when lots of people start to visit the site. So, it is not that the service of the team of skilled web designers is valuable only during the implementation, but their support is needed before and after the implementation for site audit recommendations, interpreting mobile analytics and ranking reports and trying out more efficient strategies.