It was back in the Summer of 2015 that the number of mobile devices overtook desktop, and now over 80% of internet users access the web via mobile every day, with nearly 60% of a user’s time spent consuming digital content via various mobile platforms. And it’s with statistics like that, we can wholeheartedly say that the mobile-friendliness of your business’ website truly matters! Add to those stats that in November 2016 Google announced it would be flipping its ranking index to mobile first, its clear just how important Google believes mobile is.
So, let’s now take a look at what exactly that Google update is all about, how you can analyse the mobile-friendliness of your business’ website and five crucial tips to help optimise it for mobile.
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Google’s mobile updates & the flip of the index
The first mobile algorithm update was released by Google in May 2015, but the signs Google was beginning to move to a more mobile based world started way back in 2013 when they unveiled their configuration recommendations for making your website mobile-friendly. Then in 2014, they introduced ‘mobile-friendly’ tags in search results, helping mobile searchers to easily identify which websites would provide them with a great user experience.
But back to 2015, and from the New Year Google warned web designers, marketers and businesses that their first mobile algorithm update would be coming in May, and if they didn’t prepare for it, they’d see their websites vanish from search results, meaning potentially huge losses in online sales. Hence the coining of the term:
But May 2015 rolled around, the update released and everyone gritted their teeth. But in a massive anti-climax to the whole event, nothing much happened, but tiny fluctuations in some rankings, and so life pretty much went on as normal. However, a month later the number of mobile devices overtook desktop for the first time, making businesses that hadn’t bothered to head Google’s warning and begun investing in mobile, to raise their heads, but rankings pretty much stayed the same.
Leap forward a year to 2016 and Google released their second mobile algorithm update, this time with very little warning, and panic ensued as search rankings plummeted for those who hadn’t optimised for mobile.
Then in November 2016, Google made what was both an expected, yet surprising announcement, for the first time, they were going to completely flip their ranking index to, mobile first, meaning that they would crawl, index and rank mobile sites, pages and content first, before turning to desktop content. Yet no date for when this would occur was announced.
And at the latest SMX Conference in June 2017, Google Webmaster Trend Analyst, Gary Illyes, said that the flip probably won’t happen till early 2018, meaning that everyone has a little bit of time to make sure their business’ website is completely mobile optimised. And you bet if by the time the ranking index flip occurs, your website isn’t mobile friendly, you can kiss goodbye to all the investment you’ve made in your website to get it ranking on page one of Google, as you’ll disappear down the rankings, while your competitors with mobile-friendly, sites shoot straight past you, increasing their revenues and brand awareness.
So, just how can you check and analyse your business’ website to see if it is mobile-friendly, and if not what can you do to help make sure it is?
Analysing your site for mobile-friendliness
At a very basic level, you can test your business site’s mobile-friendliness by viewing it on your phone. Though it’s worth testing it on various devices, operating systems and mobile browsers as they may render your site differently.
But what exactly should you be looking for?
First of all, your sites written content is essential, but is it readable or do you have to pinch and zoom to see what it says? If so you need to rethink your font size.
Here are a couple other things you should be sure to look at:
- Buttons and links that are difficult to click.
- Slow loading of pages and content.
- Unplayable video and audio.
- Odd layout changes.
- Non-mobile-friendly content such as Flash.
But don’t worry you don’t have to just rely on your own findings, as the nice people over at Google have provided us all with a fantastic free tool – Test My Site – which lets you simply type in your URL and then creates a beautiful looking report highlighting the friendliness of your website and tips on how you can improve and optimise it for mobile.
And then for an even deeper dive into the mobile responsiveness of your site, you can use Google Search Console and its Mobile Usability Report function. In these reports, you’ll find a full list of mobile issues that Google has discovered across the whole of your company’s website.
5 Tips for optimising your business’ site for mobile
- Choosing the right font – As I say above, your website’s text needs to readable on a mobile device without the need for zooming in, Google recommends using a font size of at least 12 pixels, and ideally you’ll want the font to be clean and not overly decorative, as ease of reading is the key to success.
- Ensure a touch friendly navigation – One of the most frustrating things when on a mobile website is not being able to click the button or link you’re after, and instead hitting another one, then having to wait for that to load before being able to click back and get to the actual page you wanted. So, try and use a minimum size of 7mm x 7mm for any buttons and leave a 5mm space around them, so fumbling fingers and thumbs can easily click the right thing.
- Reduce page load speeds – Using 3G and 4G signal can mean loading is a lot slower than when on Wi-Fi, so ensure your page’s load speed is quick by minimising the file size of images, videos and reducing the amount of Java Script.
- Keep your lead forms short – Lead capture forms are the perfect way to help you capture potential customer data, but on a mobile device you really need to think about the size of your forms. Keep your form fields down to only the minimum information you require.
- Use an experienced agency – When implementing the above four tactics working alongside an experienced digital marketing agency, who have mobile site architects and dedicated mobile search marketers in-house to help you get the best from your mobile optimisation investments, is a smart move.
So, there you have it, why making your business’ site mobile-friendly is essential for your survival in a post-Mobilegeddon world, and if you’d like to learn more about optimising your website for mobile users in a local radius why not check out our blog about 12 Local SEO Tactics your Business Needs to Implement Today!