The internet is looking and acting more and more like a smartphone. Is your website working great for mobile users? If so, you’ll get more leads faster. If not, your Google rankings will suffer.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Mobile-first and why it’s important
  • How Google has changed what mobile-friendly means
  • How to make your website more mobile-friendly
  • Why page speed is so important for rankings and leads

For more information about the tools and techniques mentioned in this episode, please visit:


Episode Transcript

Intro: Welcome to Grow Your Painting Business, a podcast for commercial, residential and industrial painters to grow their businesses in their local or regional markets. We’re experts in digital marketing for painters and other trades, and this is a show to share our experience with you. Grow Your Painting Business is a free podcast from the experts in digital marketing for the trades.

Chris Raines: All right. Welcome to episode 24 of Grow Your Painting Business, the podcast from I’m Chris Raines. I’m joined as always by Michael Utley to my left. How you’re doing, Michael?

Michael Utley: Good. Hey Chris, how’s it going? Happy Friday.

Chris Raines: Happy Friday. Yeah, it’s been a hot week here in Nashville.

Michael Utley: Yeah, but it feels good.

Chris Raines: It feels good in here. It was very hot yesterday. I was outside for most of the day and it was hot enough to cook a whole chicken on your dashboard, I think.

Michael Utley: Yep.

Chris Raines: All right. We are going to talk about … What did we title this episode today?

Michael Utley: Title of this one is the Internet is a Smartphone: How lead generation is going mobile.

Chris Raines: Okay. The Internet’s a Smartphone, I love that title because more and more people are searching, browsing, making decisions, making purchases, all that on smartphones. So if more and more it’s appropriate to look at the Internet as just a big smartphone, even though people still use desktops.

Michael Utley: That’s right.

Chris Raines: So we’re going to talk about in the context of a painting business, how you can take that fact that everything is moving mobile and win with digital marketing.

Michael Utley: That’s it.

Chris Raines: Okay. So let’s kick it off, Michael. Like just in general, I’d like to get your thoughts. How have smartphones changed painting businesses, really businesses in general?

Michael Utley: Yeah, there was a period right before CSS was used to display what we call responsive websites where people ended up with mobile versions of their website. Essentially, you went to a domain and it could sense if you were on a mobile device and then maybe kick you over to a separate website.

Chris Raines: The little M dot.

Michael Utley: Yeah. And platforms like Duda and others made that easy for people. But now, with responsive design we’re using one set of code and so files and databases and everything to make up a website instead of thinking of it in terms of two websites. And that’s just better because it’s easier to manage everything. But not everybody has been really good at thinking about user interface design on mobile. Even though people are really sensitive to the desktop experience. And usually when companies are working on their websites or thinking about it, especially small businesses that maybe they go sit down with a marketing agency or a web design shop and they pull some stuff up on the big screen and they start talking about, “Well, what are we going to do with the new website?”

It’s typically on a traditional layout. What really everybody should do is take their phone out of their pocket and then start bouncing around on websites and talking about what they like and don’t like. That would be a good sort of de-centering exercise to get everyone off of the desktop screen for thinking about website design and their primary message. Because right now I would say that there are a lot of really, really great businesses doing well and have a really great brands, a catchy name, a good logo, really great desktop experience that still struggle in the area of their desktop experience and they’re just not thinking about it the right way.

Chris Raines: This all makes me think of Google did something, it was either this year or last year that kind of made this all the more important for everyone. And that was mobile-first indexing, right?

Michael Utley: Yep.

Chris Raines: So talk about why those, and we’ve done a whole, I think we did a whole episode on this a while back, but Michael tell the audience what mobile-first indexing is and why it was such a big deal.

Michael Utley: Yeah. Google really wants pages that load fast for their users of their search engine. So that’s a major factor in who they decide to show higher in search results. And last year Google shifted over to a new scoring system. If you do a Google search for page speed test Google, it’ll take you to their page testing tool and it’ll show you which resources on your web pages are slower to load. And just to back up a half step here, right now about half the traffic on the Internet is on a mobile device and this is something that’s been growing. For some websites now it’s probably as high as 60% or 80% and especially when you get into thinking about networks where somebody might advertise like a Facebook app or something, either an app or a web browser, a significant portion of the experience of new people coming in and seeing your website for the first time it might be on a mobile device.

So we’re not talking about an ancillary sort of addition to your desktop experience of your website. We’re talking about the primetime. And then, what Google’s really done is they’ve really decided, and we don’t have any special sort of insight or knowledge, but just talking about what they’ve talked about publicly and what people can observe, they’ve really decided and demonstrated that they care more about page speed than anything else in terms of getting content displayed. Even to the point that with AMP, a lot of companies, and we do this for a handful of clients, we’ll-

Chris Raines: Michael, A lot of people might not know what AMP is you. So what do you mean by AMP?

Michael Utley: So AMP [Accelerated Mobile Pages]  is where you use a certain markup and you tag your content in such a way that it can be displayed in Google search results pages so people can see your content without even coming to your website, which sounds counterintuitive. But if you’re TicketMaster and you’re selling tickets, you might want to get those showtimes and those links to purchase pushed up to the Google level and you don’t mind losing the traffic and not cross-promoting other events.

You would rather be the authoritative source of the industry so much so that your content is displayed right there in the Google page. So Google’s really moving in a direction of simplifying, stripped down content that gets the answer into the exact right place for the user with very little distraction. And so they’re happy to take people’s content and use it on their pages without taking people to the website using snippets of content which they’ve been doing for a while. They’re happy for people to market their language and have it shown in AMP. And then the next level of this, sort of the next level of the sphere is that last year they released a new page speed test score in combination with some sort of, I don’t know, maybe it was an outfit that they bought or some of them, but a lighthouse.

And so this mobile indexing score, mobile page speed score, it really shifted the finish line. So where we manage maybe 20 or 30 websites’ performance in a given month here at GoEpps, you know, which is the creator of SearchPrimer. And in looking at all those websites, we were scoring in the green meaning hey your mobile speed’s fine. And then suddenly everything shifted to red. And it was because we built a lot of sites on WordPress and things hadn’t really evolved to the point that pages were fast enough for the new set of standards that Google rolled out. And then not only … here’s where it gets interesting, not only did they create this new scoring system for mobile and desktop that sort of moved the finish line pretty substantially for mobile devices, Google also wants something called mobile-first indexing. They decided that the evaluation of what made a good website was the mobile page score and they went ahead and applied it for all website traffic.

So even desktop searches are now influenced by the mobile speed of a website. So what this means is, and Google to a fault will actually favor things that are stripped down so much that there maybe are not even images on the page, definitely not moving background elements like sliders and moving videos, a background design element.

So a lot of how we’re thinking about website design now is influenced by how well the mobile experience is going to impact page load time. And yeah, so this move to mobile-first indexing, it’s a pretty profound thing and so much that if you’re thinking about a new website, you’re kind of evaluating your current situation. You need to know your mobile page score for load time through the page speed test tool and you need to really shift your thinking away from desktop over to the mobile experience.

Chris Raines: Yeah. Well let’s talk about some ways that we can think in terms of mobile-first and in terms of how do we design not just for something to look good and to look pretty, but actually optimize it for conversion and converting website traffic into leads. I mean people approach mobile differently there. There’s not a keyboard, the screen is smaller. So Michael, tell us about some things that we need to think about when looking at our mobile website to make sure they’re in place.

Michael Utley: Yeah. And most of the websites that we work on, we’re focused on having a conversion orientation to the website. And for us, for mobile, that specifically means having a phone number in a click to call button or a large text in the header of the mobile experience and wherever it feels appropriate keeping that header locked in place as a sticky header for mobile users.

Sometimes you might have another call to action available like a schedule now button, but having a phone button and a schedule now button is the two buttons at the top, so maybe your logo is kind of the top bar and then the next bar is a click to call and next to it schedule now. Those are conversion actions that you’re wanting people to take. And so I would say number one is really thinking through what you want people to do and make sure they can do it with a click of the thumb. So “thumbability” is what we call that. And then number two on actions, and this probably kind of makes up my big two things, is thinking about what’s above the fold. A lot of mobile sites, you could have an agency that says, “Yeah, it works on mobile, it’s fine.”

And what they mean is they’ve containerized all of the content so that it displays into a single long mobile page. What they may be forgetting is that that fold, when we say above the fold in website design, we’re talking about what’s the content that’s seen before someone has to scroll. On a mobile device, we’re talking about really, really limited real estate.

So depending on sort of how you’ve conceived above the fold on your desktop, above the fold on the mobile device could very easily just become a secondary thought. And we’re telling you the numbers are such with mobile traffic, you ought to be thinking about that as much as you’re thinking about anything. So if you’ve got some kind of special offers, some kind of big headline, seeing the top half of that message is just not good enough. You’ve really got to think through the mobile device and the mobile experience and say, “Is this going to help people convert or are we putting the work to scroll down and capture the information on them?”

And if you’re putting the work on them, they’re going to do it less often than you want them to. So you need to take that mental load off of them and craft an above the fold call to action or headline or message or however you’re intending to start the conversation with your website and make sure that it’s clear and all there in one view without scrolling.

Chris Raines: That’s great. Next, let’s talk about map listings and mobile and before we started recording, Michael, I asked you the question, well what do reviews have to do with mobile design? And you brought up a good point about Maps. So let’s talk about on mobile, how these reviews are perhaps even more important because of the prevalence of Maps.

Michael Utley: Yeah, a lot of people are going to their mobile devices, sort of their preferred device for finding local providers. And interestingly, they’re not popping open a web browser. They’re popping up in their Maps application because they know the phone number and the website links or the menu if it’s restaurant are always in the same place.

Chris Raines: And they trust that Google has collated all the available options. So I want to see all the painting companies, here’s the Maps and Google has correlated all these so I can vet every single one of them, all 20 of them right here in the same page.

Michael Utley: That’s right. And Google Maps is also sort of a, in a way, a social media network. So let me tell you what I mean by that. There’s a social proof mechanism in place with the fact that there are ratings in a Maps application or Yelp or any other app that is sort of a local service provider, a local option browser.

Chris Raines: Which is the Google My Business …

Michael Utley: Yeah, so Google My Business is a very powerful component in managing your online presence. And so in Maps, this is going to be the difference between being well on a desktop. It’s going to mean you’re either in or you’re not in the Local 3-Pack section of results where they’re sort of hedging their bets and what you’re looking for and showing you some Maps information. But on a mobile device they’re saying, “Yeah, yeah, you’re trying to find a phone number or something for your location because you’re on a map.”

And it’s a significant portion of activity for a brand when people are doing non-branded searches. If somebody is looking for your brand and they find your website and get your phone number, that’s great. No problem. But the real opportunity for your business is those non-branded searches. People are searching for “commercial painter Nashville” or “residential painter Nashville”.

So going after those, being present in Maps. And if you have this mindset of saying, “Well, our customers are businesses, our customers are … we’re a B2B company. We’re doing commercial painting. We’re not doing a spare bedroom residential painting. We’re bigger than that.” Well guess what? People looking around thinking about stuff during meetings on their phone, they’re listening to a webinar, they’re on a conference call and they’re popping up in their phone doing searches. You better get with it. Those people you’re talking about are humans and those humans all have smart phones and they’re doing searches for things related to work constantly.

Chris Raines: And yeah, I was just about to say the same kind of thing. You know, you’re thinking about maybe you’re B2B and you’re selling to companies. Well, that property manager or operations person you want to get in touch with, they are … Think about how everybody works. Your work life spills into your personal life. And so you have some extra time at night after the kids go to bed and you’re like, “We really got to find a painter for next spring to do a job. Let me just pop in and see what’s out there just to get some …”

They’re going to search on their phone. If you think that all B2B searches are, “I’m at my computer, I’m at my desk, I pulled up to my keyboard.” Yeah, that happens. But man, more and more people who are doing business business things on mobile, even like high end business transactions, researching for those kinds of transactions. They’re doing it on mobile, on a personal mobile device.

Michael Utley: Yeah. And I think Chris, since you and I run digital agencies essentially, we have the benefit of seeing the reality across tens of, and over the life of our careers, hundreds of websites as opposed to one company’s isolated set of opinions. But people have been really resistant to mobile and the mobile versions of websites, frankly, because they’re intimidated.

And a lot of people say this to us, “Hey, we need to work on this. We need to fix this. I don’t know how any of this works. I’m scared of it.” I had that conversation this morning with somebody and you got to tell him, “Yeah, this is broken. This is hurting your business and it’s broken and you should be frustrated. But you need to break this down into actionable steps and find a solution. But ignoring, it’s not going to make it go away.”

Chris Raines: That’s right. All right, well that’s all the time we have for today. And hey, listen, if you like the content, if you like the content we’ve been doing on Grow Your Painting Business, go ahead and go over to iTunes and leave us a five star review.

Michael Utley: Yeah.

Chris Raines: Yeah. And it’s, if you think it’s less than five stars worth of value, then please do not leave a review. Go away.

Michael Utley: Tell us what could’ve been better. We’d be happy to meet you halfway on that.

Chris Raines: Our goal is to help as many painting businesses as possible with free content about digital marketing, online marketing, offline marketing, lead generation of all types. So it really helps people find it if you go to iTunes and leave a review. So please, if you find a few seconds to do that, please do so.

Michael Utley: Thank you. Thanks, Chris.

Speaker 1: The Grow Your Painting Business podcast is a free service of Visit us today for more information on how you can grow your business using the latest tools in digital marketing.