Businesses catering to mobile users is nothing new, but now that Google is evaluating websites for their mobile friendliness, the stakes are a lot higher.

In a recent post for Entrepreneur, Henry Kim, Co-Founder and President of Symphony Commerce, gets to the heart of the matter: “With 2 billion smartphone or tablet users expected to engage in some form of mobile commerce transactions by 2017, brands can’t afford to not be mobile. So why are consumers shopping on-the-go still being directed to sites with tiny text, excessive scrolling or worse – requiring Flash?”

Good point. And the fact is, businesses and their brand managers who want to build a strong online presence won’t be able to get away with it for much longer. A few months ago, Google rolled out a “mobile friendly” label for smartphone search results, and has announced that it is also testing a new algorithm that factors a site’s mobile appeal into its actual search ranking. If implemented, those sites that perform best on a mobile platform will rise, and those that don’t will fall. “While the mobile-friendly label will be friendly to consumers, it won’t be so friendly to online retailers whose sites aren’t mobile-optimized,” Kim writes. “In addition to sub-par search rankings, we estimate that if a retailer isn’t on mobile, they risk losing up to 50 percent of potential sales.”

With that warning, Kim offers 4 Tips for Passing Google’s New Mobile-Friendly Test. Briefly, they are:

  • Design with the smallest screen in mind, focusing on “bare essentials” content;
  • Make “Add to Cart” and “Checkout” buttons prominent and accessible;
  • Simplify navigation by streamlining cluttered pages and moving non-essential links to collapsed menus; and
  • Be sure that checkout is frictionless, by limiting the number of keystrokes required and otherwise smoothing out the process.

To read Kim’s complete design and functionality check list for cultivating a more fruitful mobile experience, click here. And check out the Mobile Usability feature Google recently added to its Webmaster Tools.

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