Back in 2014, businesses began to realise that a mobile website was necessary to help improve usability for their growing number of mobile visitors. The hardy few who acted on this early soon began to reap the rewards.
Then, in April this year, Google released an algorithm update that the digital community quickly labelled ‘Mobilegeddon’.
Dramatic? Perhaps. A questionable wordplay? Most definitely. But essentially this change meant that mobile-friendly sites would appear more prominently to those browsing on their mobile device. That’s a change that can’t be ignored.
So am I doomed without a mobile site?
Not totally. The absence of a mobile site will not damage the performance of your desktop site. That said, an increasing number of people are favouring their mobile over their desktop, so it wouldn’t hurt to do a little research and find out the extent to which this is true of your target audience.
You might find that failing to address the mobile-friendliness of your site could see your business fall way short of its potential peak performance.
This is because the update generated separate search results for mobile compared to desktop, making Google more helpful in giving mobile searchers the information they want on sites that will provide them with a quality user experience.
Google primarily achieves this in two ways. Firstly, it gives much better visibility to mobile-friendly sites and secondly, it provides an icon that indicates to searchers which sites on a results page are mobile-friendly.
5 Top Tips to make your site mobile-friendly
If you’re still reading, we’ll assume it’s because you’ve decided it might be an idea to make your site as mobile-friendly as possible.
Fortunately, we’re here to point you in the right direction with these 5 helpful hints for mobile mastery.
Make your site responsive
Responsive web design is essentially making sure your site is friendly for desktop, tablet and mobile devices. It should serve the same content on the same URL. A web designer can achieve this by setting rules that will display code in a different way if the browser is less than a certain width.
This means your users won’t have to waste time zooming or scrolling in order get the page looking right on a smaller screen, which is a frankly tedious chore that may well be enough to send your hard-earned visitors heading elsewhere before you’ve even had time to introduce yourself.
Whenever possible, avoid having a separate mobile site
Before modern CSS3 and media queries, the best approach was to have separate websites for mobile and desktop viewers.
This was done by implementing code that could sniff out the browser’s user agent and check for an indication that was a mobile or tablet device.
However, this caused a few problems. Content could sometimes be duplicated across both sites, leaving them open to penalisation from search engines. Additionally, when a new device came on the market, it was often the case that neither the mobile nor desktop configuration was appropriate, meaning users on those devices received a poor website experience.
Improve your pagespeed
This is a relatively new ranking factor that Google is using to decide how prominent your page should be to searchers.
Addressing issues in this area can be a quick way to see improvements in traffic and simultaneously augment the user experience. Luckily for you, theEword has created a tool that allows you to see exactly how fast your pages are. Go ahead, give it a try.
The most common issues with pagespeed, such as browser caching and compression, can often be fixed with a few lines of code. Other aspects that can have a big impact on your pagespeed score are things like image compression, which can be a little harder to keep track of.
To make it easier for people to keep on top of image compression and achieve a good pagespeed Google has made software you can install on either an Apache or Nginx server, which will do a lot of the hard work for you. Installing the Google PageSpeed Module is free, but may not be compatible with every website.
Give your visitors mobile-friendly site navigation
It’s essential that visitors can navigate your mobile site in the same way they can find their way around your desktop site. The best way to achieve this is to have a basic navigation for the top pages and for each sub-page. An overcomplicated process will make your life difficult, and crucially will give your visitors a challenging user experience, which is not what they want.
It’s important to ensure key, conversion-driving pages such as contact forms can be easily navigated to from all areas of the site. Don’t hide these pages away, as your visitors are unlikely to be in the mood to seek them out. You might wish to consider sticky buttons that will ensure gateways to your pivotal pages follow your visitors as they scroll down a page, keeping them in view at all times.
Never stop improving
Work on a website is never finished, and this is equally true of mobile. Don’t assume that implementing a few lines of code to make your site mobile-friendly is ‘job done’. You should be constantly monitoring how your users are interacting with your mobile site and assessing its success.
For example, if your mobile visitors show a much higher bounce rate than your desktop visitors, this could indicate that there is something about the mobile experience that is turning them off. If you notice that all is not well, consider what you can do to make the situation more palatable for your mobile visitors.