Those of us who follow Google (like yourself) know of the coming algorithm change. Soon (if not already) Google will be ranking your desktop site based on your mobile experience. That means: if your mobile site sucks, you’ll feel it in your search traffic.
We know how important this will be. Our bosses aren’t as easily convinced.
I don’t blame them. They have to manage lots of resources. They have competing interests to manage. They have benchmarks to meet. They even have ongoing projects that take time and resources away- even from pressing matters like this.
So, how can we help your boss make your mobile site a priority?
Google’s “Test My Site” Tool
A few months ago, Google released a tool to help you test your mobile site. If you enter your domain into their tool you’ll learn a couple things:
- How much traffic you are losing, from bad mobile experiences
- How your site compares to other, similar sites
- What you can do about it
The rumor is (and I’ll continue to perpetuate it) that Google released this tool to warn people about the pending algorithm change. If it predicts you are losing mobile traffic now, this might be an indicator of how much traffic you’ll lose when they roll-out their new algorithm.
Now, I’m not a big proponent of fear as a motivator for change. When fear comes into play, some people fly, rather than fight for change. However, this tool is a good way to get your boss to make mobile a priority. Plus, it comes with some authorty (from Google) rather than little-old-you.
Use Google Analytics
While recently working on my Google Analytics IQ certification, I encountered a report that might help. This benchmarking data allows you to see how your website performs on different devices, as compared with other sites. This could help you make your case, too.
How to get this data
First of all, you have to enable advanced advertising features in Google Analytics. Some companies are hesitant to do this. They think they’re giving away their data for free. I get it. I’ve been hesitant to do this, too. However, Google anonymizes any data they share with other companies. Your data won’t help your competitors know how to beat you. I’m convinced this is safe.
Here’s how you enable your site to use these features: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2819948?hl=en
After you enable this features, login to Google Analytics. Click:
Next you need to compare apples to apples (or, at least, as close as possible). At the top of the report, cange your “Industry Vertical” to something that reflects your site’s industry. Next select the geographic focus for your company. Third, select the range that most reflects your average daily sessions.
At this point you can compare your traffic against similar sites (given a certain time period). What time period should you start with?
- Did you make any recent changes that affect your mobile site? Compare data since then. You could also go back and see data before this change.
- Pull data from a couple years back and see if there are any big fluctuations for benchmark data. For instance, with one client, I could see that sometime in the middle of August 2017 benchmark data went up. If I use that data to measure our site against that, I can see how well our site is doing in comparison.
How to interpret this data
For our purposes, Acquisition data is not particularly helpful. When Google rolls-out their new algorithm, this is were we might first see it- as less traffic comes to our site.
Pay more attention to the Behavior data. Compare your data against similar sites as well as each kind of device.
Pages Per Session shows how many pages people visit on our site. If people have problems with our mobile site we’d see lower-than-average pages per session than our desktop and other similar sites.
A low number here isn’t necessarily bad. It could mean people find exactly what they’re looking for quickly and easily. Then again, a high number might mean they’re frustrated because they can’t find what they’re looking for.
Average Session Duration measures time spent on our site. When it comes to mobile, if people have a problem with our site we’d expect this to be lower than average.
This can be a little misleading. Google Analytics has no idea how long someone spends on the last page of their session. This number actually reflects how long someone spends on all the pages EXCEPT their last page. A low number might not be bad, if someone finds what they’re looking for. Also remember: by default, Google Analytics ends a session at 30 minutes. That means, if your site has long videos for example, this number might not reflect this.
Bounce Rate reflects how many people land on a page and don’t proceed to another page on your site. They just return from whence they came. If people are having a hard time with our mobile site, this would also be lower than average.
Sure, each of these metrics have limitations. My point: use all them together to diagnose if you have a mobile problem on your site. From here, delve deeper to see what might cause your problem.
Congratulations! You Convinced Your Boss! What’s Next?
Send these reports to yourself on a regular basis.
You can ask Google to send you a PDF copy of this report every week, if you like. This can help you monitor your progress. Bosses love to see that. You’ll become their favorite employee.
Of course, these reports can also help prove stagnation. Other priorities will come-up and steal resources from this project. Use your regular report to prove that this is still a problem, and demands attention.
This might even tell you when Google rolls-out their new algorithm. Like I mentioned, above, when the performance of your desktop site (in terms of acquisitons) starts to resemble your mobile site performance, this might mean the algo has rolled-out. Google has promised this would be gradual. In fact, it might have already started, but this is where we’d start to see it.
Track your progress in Google Analytics
I love it when I take-on a new client and they’ve documented website changes in the annotations. You’ll find this by clicking the tiny triangle beneath the graph. From here you can add a note saying what happened on a particular date. Use this feature to track your sites’s improvements. This way you can show how well your site is doing after you made a change.
Contact Me for Help
I’d be negligent if I didn’t offer to help you through this project. Do you need help convincing your boss that this is a priority? Do you need help talking your dev team through these changes? Well, that’s convenient: that’s what I do for a living. I’d love to help.