For a few years now Google has been on a constant drive to get people to update their sites to consider website usability on mobiles. This has included their recent announcement about the mobile-first index as well as their drive to get people to adopt Accelerated Mobile Pages.
One of the bigger changes that Google has made is to release a mobile friendly algorithm (its release was dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’), aimed at demoting websites that aren’t easily useable on mobile devices. This is a simple pass / fail test. If you fail Google’s mobile friendly test it becomes more likely that you appear lower in the search results to users on mobile devices.
Big players in the industry are well aware of the need to adapt to mobile, and this is highlighted in a lot of their investor reports. For example, here’s a couple of quotes from Extra Space Storage’s reports which demonstrate this:
Today, as more and more customers connect with us through mobile devices, we are continuing to strengthen our mobile marketing platform and capabilities.
Unlike smaller operators that lack the technology resources to adapt to this change, we were well prepared for “Mobilegeddon” and well positioned to capitalize on it. As a result, more than half of consumers now find us through mobile search, a meaningful increase over 2014.
We decided to look into how the storage industry as a whole has been keeping up with this trend, and see if Extra Space Storage were right in saying that smaller operators can’t keep up.
How we did the study
We looked at 300 U.K. and 300 U.S. storage company websites and put them through the mobile friendly test, to see how they fared.
The sites were chosen via Google searches on the major cities of each country. We carried on searching through cities in decreasing order of population until we had 300 sites for each country after removing sites that we had already included. We only took storage sites from the first page of the Google results.
For these reasons the data may overstate the prevalence of mobile friendly storage websites, as we were more likely to include the larger storage companies than the smaller ones.
What we found
Overall the U.S. storage companies have been doing much better at making their sites mobile friendly than the U.K.
Only 18.3% of the U.S. sites we tested didn’t pass the mobile friendly test, whereas 31% of sites in the U.K. failed it.
This imbalance may be down to the difference in competition between the locations we sourced our websites from. We were only searching through the more populous cities in each country, so naturally the cities we looked at in the U.S. were more populous, and therefore likely more competitive.
In these more competitive environments companies are more likely to see the need to get an edge on their neighbouring storage facilities.
To give an idea of the disparity in competition, the collective population of the cities we searched in the U.S. was 64,958,127 vs 29,254,653 in the U.K., that’s over twice as many people.
HTTP vs HTTPS
We also looked at the difference between http and https sites. Unsurprisingly, people who have made the switch to https were much more likely to have a mobile friendly site. It makes sense that if you care enough about keeping up to date with the switch to secure sites, you’re probably also the sort of company that cares enough about keeping up to date with mobile friendliness.
The switch to https is another area where U.K. sites are being shown up by our cousins across the pond. Out of the 300 U.K. sites we looked at only 27 were https. This is compared to 105 out of 300 for the U.S.
The biggest takeaway from this our study is that a large percentage (31% in the U.K. vs 18.3% in the U.S.) of companies still haven’t made the switch to a website experience that is comfortable for mobile users.
Given that the majority of searches on Google are from mobile devices, these people are harming their own rankings for most of the time that they appear.
This problem isn’t just a search problem either. Once a visitor lands on a site with a poor mobile experience they’ll be left frustrated and annoyed.
So what can you do? That’s simple. Test your site to make sure it is mobile friendly. If it’s not, then it’s time to consider getting a new website.
- The U.S. companies are adapting better to this change than U.K. companies
- 31% of U.K. sites aren’t mobile friendly
- 18.3% of U.S. sites aren’t mobile friendly
- The more competitive your location is, the more likely you will have a mobile site.
- Roughly 95% of https sites are also mobile friendly