How To Stay Competitive in A Mobile-Friendly World
Learn why having an amazing mobile version of your website is an absolute must.
Since Google announced that it had started experiments on shifting page indexing to mobile-first, there has been a lot of talk and tons of speculation. After a year and a half of experimentation, finally and officially, mobile-first indexing is rolled out.
Your customers are likely to access your site from different devices and to meet the goals of your website it is your responsibility to provide them with the best experience possible. This is what mobile optimization is all about: adapting your site, the design, and your content for various screen sizes and platforms.
More than half of all searches today are conducted via mobile, and those numbers are growing.
A simple analysis of traffic will help you understand your audience’s device preferences. Google Analytics allows you to access some of this data and it will help you see if what you are doing is working with mobile users, or if you should adjust your methods. But keep in mind, a “mobile-first” mentality should never take over the “customer-first” approach.
Key SEO aspects of developing a mobile website:
Choose Mobile-Friendly Configuration
The first step of mobile optimization is deciding which website configuration to use. If your site already has a mobile version with the same markup and content as on desktop version, you are all set up. You can go ahead and skip to the next section, where you will find tips on reviewing mobile-friendliness, evaluating content & design, how to research keywords & competitors, and what tools can help you.
If you don’t have a mobile version yet, we recommend that you start with determining the goals for your mobile website. What do your visitors want to do? What do you want them to be able to do? Figure out what you want and need to happen to reach your goals. Then determine how much time and resources you can put into it. The goal is to make everything mobile and user-friendly. So let’s look at how you can do that.
Depending on your business type, you might want to provide specific experiences designed for the mobile version of your site. This can include showing different content or optimizing for different search queries. You can do these things with dynamic design.
Dynamic design allows you to have several different versions of a single page on a single URL, where the distinctive HTML depends on the user agent device. This gives you the opportunity to differentiate versions of your website, offering a more custom experience while targeting different audiences. Dynamic serving does not require a full site redesign but does increase the workload of maintenance and updating.
Separate URL for Mobile Version
This works exactly how you think it would; you create a new mobile-friendly page that exists on a different URL. Usually, it sits on a subdomain, like “m.website.com.” If you go this route, it is a good idea to keep this URL structure paralleled with the desktop version of the site.
As with the dynamic serving, having two separate sites has the drawback of more complicated maintenance. It does give you the opportunity to create a more defined mobile experience, but it leaves more room for technical issues. User-agent detection is not always perfect, so it is a good idea to provide users with the ability to switch versions.
Believe it or not, having only a desktop version is still an option in a mobile-first world. Obviously, this is not advisable because you will not get a mobile-friendliness boost and will potentially lose a chunk of clientele. That being said, it is better to have a fully-functioning desktop-only website than a poorly implemented mobile version. Your desktop site will still be searchable from mobile, after all. You can check if your content is accessible with the Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console.
Optimize Content for Mobile Devices
Having a mobile-first approach in mind can benefit the desktop version of your site. Imagining a website on a smaller screen is a good way to shave off all of the unimportant parts and to rebuild the information architecture in a way that provides easy access to the answers and information people are looking for. It also helps you prioritize and create content that is better and stronger than ever.
Good content is good content, and guidelines for creating it are universal across all platforms. It should be structured, informative, easily scannable, and have great, click-worthy headlines. Long-form content is universally considered to be more valuable from an SEO perspective, but they’re currently isn’t a consensus on mobile.
Shorter content on mobile makes sense because small screens can show less information
Provide a Good User Experience
If you have followed all the tips listed above, solved technical issues, and optimized content, then you should have a mobile-friendly website. But it is still not quite enough; you need to provide a good user experience. Look at your site through the eyes of a mobile user and think of the journey that a visitor makes.
Make sure you have a big enough font and that the text is readable without zooming. Buttons and links need to be spaced in a way that is not frustrating for the user. Fingers obscure the view and do not offer the precision of a mouse. It is best to define clickable items and to give users feedback on their actions. For example, you can indicate buttons were pushed and highlight links to show that have already been clicked on; this helps in a case of a slow connection, so people won’t furiously keep tapping.
Mobile optimization of a website seems like a lot of hard work, and it is, but the benefits it provides are potentially game-changing. If you are thinking about getting into mobile optimization, or already have been blessed with such an experience and would like a second opinion contact one of our consultants today for a free audit!