Earlier this year (April 21st), Google released an update nicknamed ‘Mobilegeddon’. This update affected mobile search results globally, and impacted the rankings of individual pages that were optimised for mobile (see their official post here). It’s reported that non-mobile friendly URL’s have seen a 21% decrease in rankings on the first 3 pages of search results.
Google assured SEO’s that they would still use a variety of signals to determine rankings, but the mobile-friendly change is still important. Given Google’s history, we can only expect ‘Mobilegeddon’ to update and increase in importance over time. As SEO’s, it is therefore our job to ensure we don’t fall behind and ignore Google’s updates! So, if you haven’t already (shame on you), and you still need a bit of convincing, here’s how and why you should be optimising your website to be mobile-friendly.
Why should you be optimising your website for mobile?
We mentioned because Google says so right? Aside from that, there are many other reasons why we should be optimising our websites for mobile users. For a start, mobile users are completely different to desktop users. They want the information to be right in front of them, if not, they want to be able to access it within a minimal amount of clicks. Whether your website provides a product, service or simply information, the path to conversion should be simple and intuitive. We can almost guarantee that your competitors have a website optimised for mobile, and if your site isn’t, users a likely to go to your competitors because they provide a better user experience.
The future of search = MOBILE!
Whether we like it or not, the future of search is mobile, with currently over one-quarter of the global web already searching on a mobile device. It’s therefore safe to say that if you have a mobile version of your website, it contributes to your overall traffic metric. If your site isn’t accessible on a handheld device, you could be missing out on a huge amount of traffic. You need to take your website to where your users are, and at eight in the morning, they’re likely to be on their commute to work with their only source of Internet being their mobile phone.
As a website owner, you’re always thinking of new ways to increase conversions. If your content looks great on a desktop, with a clear conversion path and an obvious call to action, this may not be the case on a mobile device. If your website isn’t optimised for mobile, users will often find themselves pinching and zooming to view your content, they may miss or be unclear of where your call to action is, and are likely to give up all together. Mobile users have little patience, so if your call to action isn’t obvious, they’ll find a similar website where it is.
‘We’ve got a mobile site, we’ve got nothing to worry about!’
This is where you’re wrong. There’s a huge difference between having a mobile site and optimising your mobile site. Here’s a list of everything you should check for before boasting about having the perfect mobile site:
- Page loading time – the snail never wins the race is this case
- Does your mobile site effectively mirror you desktop site and brand?
- Do you provide a simple and effective user experience?
- Can your readers easily digest your content?
- Is the navigation easy & does it make sense?
- Is your call to action as obvious as possible?
How to optimise your site for mobile
So, we’ve either just persuaded you that a mobile site is essential, or you’ve realised that your current mobile site needs a bit of work (you can check to see if your site is mobile friendly by using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test). To help you out, we’ve created a list of the best SEO practices for optimising your website for mobile – so you’re up-to-date with Google, and you keep your users/ customers satisfied.
1. Chose the mobile site configuration that works best for you:
Responsive Web Design – A site that uses responsive design serves users with the same content displayed on a desktop site, on their mobile device. It works by using CSS3 media queries, which automatically adapts the website’s content to the size of the user’s screen by using flexible design and a fluid grid.
Dynamic Serving – The use of one URL to display different sets of HTML and CSS codes. This means that that the content of your website can differ, depending on which device the user is visiting your site on.
Separate mobile URL – This means creating a second site for mobile users, allowing you to completely customise what and how they see your content. A parallel mobile site should be hosted on an ‘m’ subdomain to avoid confusion.
3. Don’t use Flash – The Flash plug-in is often not available on many mobile devices, which means they won’t be able to see any content you’ve tried to display in this formant. Using HTML5 will work better; ensuring mobile users can enjoy all of your website’s content.
4. Design with the user in mind – Having a hover functionality will be useless on a mobile device, and pop ups are also frustrating and difficult to close. If your call to action buttons are too big, too small or in the way of a person scrolling the page, this can also be annoying for users.
5. Meta titles and descriptions – To appeal to mobile users, optimising your meta data and being concise will work better with your limited amount of screen space. Remember it’s all about encouraging users to chose your website over your competitors.
6. It’s the little things that count – Simplify your content to display the most important bits, plan your mobile site layout so that its streamlined, match branding elements from your desktop version and utilise white space.
So, you think you’ve got the perfect mobile site after implementing all of the above, but there’s one final check you can do. Google Webmaster Tools has a mobile usability panel, which offers recommendations to improve your mobile site even more – even if it’s a simple font size change.
Remember, the future of search is mobile, so optimise your site to please not only Google but your users too – don’t let us say ‘we told you so’ when Mobilegeddon Part 2 rolls out!