In an era dominated by mobile devices, optimizing your website for them is everything. With this mobile SEO guide, we’ll cover our best practices for optimizing mobile websites and a summary of this field itself. First, let’s clarify why mobile optimization is necessary and what aspects of web design go into making mobile responsive websites.
When it comes to ranking in Google, mobile optimization is especially important for your website because in 2018, Google moved to mobile-first indexing. This means that when Google crawls your website, it will always crawl the mobile version before the desktop version. If your webpages are not optimized or worse, not mobile-friendly, this could have a negative effect on your overall ranking in the SERP (search engine results page). Visit our blog to learn more about the mobile-first update from Google.
According to a study on Statista, about 52% of all internet traffic is now coming from smart phones. As the amount of traffic coming from mobile users is ever-growing, it’s important that web designers are taking this into account when creating mobile websites. In order to keep a user on your website, it’s not just important but necessary to have a mobile-friendly experience.
Responsive web design is a method of web development that allows web pages to render to fit on a variety of screen sizes and devices. This is done using CSS to determine which sections should be rendered where.
Mobile-first web design is a web development method that follows in the footsteps of Google, meaning the website design considers the mobile functionality first. For this method, web developers start designing for the smallest screen first and then work their way up to larger screens like tablets and desktops. When it comes to website design, this is your best bet as it will make for a seamless website experience.
But what if it’s too late to create a website using mobile-first design? That’s when mobile optimization comes in! Use the helpful tips below as a checklist to improve your overall user experience and mobile friendliness.
Page speed can be the main factor in determining whether a user stays on your website. If a page takes too long to load, users are more likely to leave the page without interacting with your website at all. A study by Section determined that longer load times have a direct correlation with higher bounce rates. There are a few common fixes that Google recommends:
When it comes to the navigation on your mobile website, it’s important to include the essentials. Search bars, cart buttons and hamburger buttons have become second nature to users and are expected to be easily accessible. We recommend placing these items on your top navigation so that users can browse your website with ease.
Text that appears to be short on desktop can be long and bothersome when viewed on mobile. To counter this, it’s recommended to only show the most important information and headlines to mobile users so that other aspects of the website are not pushed far below the fold. If needed, you can add a Read More button and collapse text. Google will not penalize users on mobile for this and will still crawl the full text.
When websites are designed responsively, images that look great on desktop can look too big or too small on mobile. This can have a negative impact on user experience if people have to pinch or zoom out on images to interact with your website. Avoid this by inspecting your website for any of these instances and correct any image sizing issues you find.
Not to repeat ourselves, but overlays and pop-ups that are small on desktop could be difficult for mobile users to navigate around. Prevent this by limiting use of overlays and pop-ups on mobile, as these can appear bigger and can even lead users away from your main website. If you need an overlay or pop-up on mobile, be sure to put a large exit button on the top right so users can easily close out of it.
Make sure that touch elements are spaced properly and large enough to click on easily. Touch elements that are too small or too close together can make it difficult for users to interact with your website effectively and of course, this means they’ll leave for a more user-friendly website.
Avoid using content that can’t be played on the mobile version of your website. For example, most mobile phones don’t support Flash Player and having elements that include this can take a toll on user experience.
The moral of the story? Optimizing for mobile can have a great impact on your website from a ranking standpoint and user standpoint. Following our tips above and keeping your user experience in mind will help you to have a successful and rewarding website. If you’re incorporating this into your holistic SEO marketing strategy, request our free e-commerce analysis and learn the fastest way to grow your business online.
Makenzie Pelletier is an SEO Coordinator at EXCLUSIVE with a love for data and marketing. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a major in Communication and a minor in Film Studies. In her free time, you can find her editing videos, taking pictures of nature or watching movies.
Google just made an important announcement regarding its ongoing development for mobile-based indexing. Starting July 1, all new websites “previously unknown to Google Search” will now have mobile-first indexing enabled by default. This means Google will now rank and index new websites based on their mobile appearance rather than how they are presented on desktop. For a better understanding of what exactly this means (and what it doesn’t), read about it here.
A Big, Albeit Not Surprising, Change
Previously, when Google implemented a similar update, it penalized slow mobile sites shown in mobile-only search engine results pages. But for the past year, the majority of Google’s searches have come from mobile, so it’s not a shock that they’re hard at work to accommodate users’ search behavior. With this in mind, be prepared if Google rolls out future updates encouraging sites to be even more mobile-friendly.
What it Means
In April 2015, when Google announced an update “boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results,” it sent more than a few site-owners running for the hills. Although sites that have yet to catch up with the mobile trend are still very much relevant, their mobile-friendly counterparts are likely advantaged. This means that mobile-friendly sites are often prioritized by Google to show up earlier in a result page, a distinction that could mean the difference between ranking well or sliding in search results. And that difference is only getting wider as mobile searches continue to rise.
What the Future Holds
Is the mobile takeover complete? Well, not quite yet. Right now, this update just focuses on new sites that Google’s Search Engine has yet to index. Google states they’ll “continue monitoring and evaluating pages for their readiness for mobile-first indexing.” Older sites are safe for the time being and will be notified through Google’s Search Console when they look ready for mobile-first indexing. In any case, the clock is officially ticking for sites that aren’t mobile-friendly.