One key element is missing from most small business websites

I came across an interesting study this morning that is important for people who run small business websites.

Like many small businesses, we’re always focused on finding new customers and clients. Because of this, I’ve been reviewing ThirdSide’s marketing plan for 2014. It’s actually a fun process for me since I have a background in marketing. Hearing a radio commercial or seeing a print ad that I’ve never experienced is like taking a new toy out of the package.

But being part of the 21st century means embracing 21st century technologies. This isn’t to say you should give up buying your favorite radio spot or billboard. Keep them! Keep them strong! But when you invite businesses to come to your front door, you need to make sure your front door is inviting. Whether you’re a brick-n-mortar business or not, in the 21st century your front door is your website.

The study I found was one done last month by Nielsen and Google. There were two strong takeaways that I’d like to share:

1) Consumers spend 15+ hours per week researching on their smartphone.

2) More smartphone users start researching about products or services on a search engine vs. a branded mobile site or app.

These two points stuck with me. Our future clients are looking for us on their phones. And they’re using search engines to do it. (They’re using their phones to find you, too.) Unfortunately, there are still millions of small business sites that aren’t optimized for mobile. If you need to “pinch-and-drag” your site to see it on your phone, then it’s not mobile optimized.

The most interesting point is that if you have a separate mobile and desktop version for your site (as opposed to a responsive site) you are actually hurting your overall search rankings. Google’s preferred site configuration is a responsive site. They will even rank responsive sites higher than non-responsive sites that look great already.

Is your site responsive or is it missing this one key element?