How your mobile website can get friendly with Google

  Posted in Mobile

By Mark Abramowitz, VP Marketing, SiteMinder

It’s sold as the ultimate fun and friendly experience ‘where dreams come true’. And when asked how they deliver exceptional customer service time and time again, the legendary Walt Disney simply replied: “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”

Disney’s straightforward and yet insightful advice can be easily adopted by hotel businesses looking to exceed their customers’ expectations and deliver great guest experiences.

But over the last couple of decades those guest experiences have begun online as consumers have looked to the Internet to seek out everything from the best reviews to the best prices – and, as last week’s SiteMinder blog explained, guests are increasingly undertaking their travel research on smaller screens via mobile and tablet devices.

Responsive design for high rankings

Delivering a friendly service at this early stage of your guest’s booking cycle is about to take on a whole new dimension with some significant changes being introduced by Google.

Starting on April 21, websites that are mobile-friendly will be flagged up in Google’s search results allowing users to identify which websites will look good on their smartphones or tablet devices.

This update will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide so it’s a big change to the way search results are displayed. Ultimately, Google wants to reward website owners with higher search rankings if they’ve implemented a flexible design that cleverly responds to each device accordingly.

Friendly vs. unfriendly

A new method of ranking search results such as this one can bring up many questions for website owners. How does Google benchmark mobile-friendly websites? What is considered to be unfriendly? How can you test your website’s current design?

Google has some helpful criteria which will help you determine whether or not your website is mobile-friendly. If you tick off these four requirements, then you’ll qualify for the new mobile-friendly label:

1. Software that is not easily viewed on mobile devices (such as Flash) is avoided.

2. The text is readable without users having to zoom in.

3. The website automatically sizes the content to fit the screen, so that visitors don’t have to scroll across or zoom to view the page’s contents.

4. Links are far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped.

Free tools direct from Google

There are some great tools available in Google’s help centre with resources available to suit all levels of web knowledge – and best of all, they’re free.

One of the most useful tools is the mobile-friendly Google test, which is as simple as typing in your web address and waiting for the result to appear.

If you’re a beginner then Google’s Get Started page is the logical place to start and will help you get familiar with all things mobile.

Should you have a webmaster or someone that helps you with web development, then you can you direct them to Google’s Webmaster’s Mobile Guide and they can assess the requirements from there.

With less than two weeks before these changes come into effect, it’s important to act quickly and make the necessary website tweaks. Delivering a great first impression can go a long way to securing that mobile booking.

And keep in mind Disney’s mantra – do what you do so well that they will want to see it again…on a mobile device!

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