I speak and often write about the use of mobile technology for crisis communication and crisis management. But there’s one area – and it’s an important area – that I haven’t yet touched on. It involves your website.
We know that, in most cases, your organization’s website should be the official home base for your crisis communications. (Tweet this!) Some especially important reasons for this include:
- Throughout a crisis, a big portion of your stakeholders will instinctively navigate to your corporate website for more information and updates;
- Unlike Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, your corporate website is the piece of digital real estate that you own and have complete control over; and
- Having a high ranking website and optimized crisis response and communications will help you be found by those searching for more information on the crisis, whether in the heat of the moment or in the future.
White paper: Dark Websites as a Crisis Communications Strategy
So there’s no denying that your website is an important tool when it comes to your crisis communications. Now let’s focus-in on the optimization side of things.
Good optimization is important in a crisis
Your website’s search engine optimization is an important crisis preparedness strategy, amongst other things. (Tweet this!) It’s very important for your crisis communications to be ranked well in the search engines – especially in a crisis when countless high-ranking news and blog sites will be writing about the incident, and you don’t want their communications outranking yours, as much as possible.
So there’s no mistaking that your optimization is important. Now let’s bring mobile technology into the picture. If you take a look at your website’s analytics, how many of your visitors come to your site from a mobile device (be it a smartphone, tablet – whatever)?
Go on and find out what the numbers are, I’ll wait.
If your website is anything like the standard, than 25% of your search traffic comes from mobile devices [Source: Huffington Post]. And this number is only expected to rise.
Now, let me ask you another question. In a crisis, when your stakeholders need to access your website to keep abreast of what’s going on (because you’re a crisis communications pro who understands the importance of timely and consistent updates in a crisis), how many do you think will be doing so from their desktop – whether they’re navigating directly to your site or following your updates (that include links) on social media?
Or what about in a natural disaster where an evacuation is needed? How many people will be lugging around their laptops and using that to tune in to your life-saving, informative updates? Probably not many.
So how important is it to make sure that your corporate website – and therefore your crisis communications home base – is mobile-friendly? Pretty important.
And I’m not the only one who thinks so, Google thinks so as well.
Google has actually started to penalize websites that don’t provide mobile users with a mobile-friendly experience. This means that, in (and out of) a crisis, if your website is not mobile-friendly, not only are you making it harder for your stakeholders to navigate through your site and easily read your communications, but Google may be penalizing your website’s search engine rankings.
This is a big deal. One that you should be paying attention to. And it requires your attention now, prior to a crisis striking your organization.
What does it mean for your website to be mobile-friendly?
You do not need a mobile version of your website (i.e.: www.m.yourwebsite.com). This is a dated way to make a website mobile-friendly and requires twice the effort when updating your pages – which means twice the effort when publishing your crisis communication updates.
What you need is a responsive website. A responsive website automatically adjusts itself – and all of your content – to fit nicely on any size screen, from a huge desktop screen right down to a mobile phone.
Wanna see what I mean? Go to the side of your web browser window right now and drag it in, reducing the width of your browser on your screen. See how the content on this web page repositions itself automatically? You can go all the way in, as small as you can make it, and the menu structure will become mobile-friendly and the content will position itself in a way that is pleasing to read and scroll. That’s because my website is developed to be responsive.
Note: If you’re currently reading this page from a mobile device, which my analytics say that 33% of you are, then you’ll already notice that it’s been developed to make your navigation and reading an enjoyable experience.
Not sure if your website is mobile-friendly? Google provides you with a tool to check, simply click here and enter in your website URL.
Make sure your crisis communications are mobile-friendly
Making sure that your crisis communications are mobile-friendly is your responsibility and is in your best interest. If you haven’t yet developed your website to be responsive, well, Google is incentivizing you to do so. So get on it!
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.