We are already living in the future. Today, almost everybody owns a powerful computer that fits into the palm of their hands – and that’s our smartphones.
With nearly 5 billion smartphone users worldwide, it’s no wonder that Google is working on prioritising mobile search indexing over desktop search.
Today, mobile devices are our primary connection to the Internet. Mobile phones are used way more often for web browsing than any desktop, laptop or tablet device. In the US alone, smartphone accounts for over 70% of online time.
And that’s why as a business, you can ill afford to ignore the needs of mobile users.
You’ll need to optimise your website for mobile devices so that it shows up in mobile web search.
Why make your website mobile friendly?
Just because your business website is up and running, doesn’t mean that it is optimised for smart devices.
While it may require a little more design work, there are many reasons a mobile-friendly is worth the time and effort.
- Google is making mobile-friendly websites their priority. The Google algorithm tweak in recent years has changed the way Google displays mobile search results. Because of this tweak, mobile-friendly sites tend to rank better than those that don’t.
- Today people use their mobile phones all the time. Because it’s quick and convenient. When your site isn’t optimised for smartphones, you won’t be able to service your prospective customers immediately.
- A mobile-friendly website helps to build a credible reputation with your customers and audience. With a mobile-friendly website, anyone using a mobile device will have a positive user experience using your site.
- It creates a modern and relevant image for your brand. As mobile-friendly sites become the new norm, any business website that isn’t mobile optimised will look outdated. Even if your content is brand new, the poor design will make your site stick out like a sore thumb.
But how exactly do we optimise our websites for mobile devices? After all, smartphones today come in all forms and sizes.
Here is a list of ways you can make sure your business is mobile friendly:
Ways to Optimise Your Website for Mobile
1. Use Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) markup
Since 2016, Google has officially integrated AMP into its own mobile search results.
As a business, you will gain significant benefits in your SEO if you implement AMP markup on your website.
For one, search results with AMP are ranked highly, sometimes even above paid ads within search results.
And also you can make use of the AMP and make your web content look attractive for your potential audience, using a scrollable carousel with images.
With the AMP content carousel, Google users will be able to glance at even more content from your website compared to a simple search result.
Every time you post an article on to your blog, it will create a new entry on the carousel, allowing you to squeeze a ton of content into a single search result, boosting your reach significantly.
There is also carousels designed to show feeds from social media such as Twitter and Instagram. When deployed in tandem with AMP carousel, you will be able to pack even more content with two or more scrolling search results.
AMP is designed to reduce mobile pages to its bare minimum, removing all the unnecessary bells and whistles to allow faster browsing on a limited speed mobile network.
With this push for AMP content, more websites developers are forced to build simpler web designs with shorter load times.
To start implementing AMP, you’ll need to integrate three components into your website’s structure.
AMP HTML– This is a form of redesigned HTML that uses custom AMP-related commands to allow for more dynamic mobile content.
AMP CDN– A content delivery network hosted by Google that handles cached content.
When you optimise your site for AMP, it is like creating two websites at the same time – one for mobile devices, one for everything else.
2. Choose a responsive web design
By now, having a responsive web design is the gold standard for any modern website. It has become a compulsory implementation for any site looking to maintain its rankings on Google.
Having responsive HTML code allows your website to adapt accordingly to the various screen sizes and orientation of any device that is viewing the content, whether it’s from a laptop or a mobile phone.
Unlike conventional non-responsive HTML, responsive HTML is sleeker, cleaner, and more powerful.
By making simple HTML tweaks, you can ensure that every image and text on your website is displayed exactly how you want it to be.
You can dictate how your website looks like on desktop vs. on a mobile device (such as a landscape orientation on the desktop, portrait orientation on smartphones).
Responsive lets you personalise each device user’s experience while also cutting down on the required HTML code.
So how do you start implementing HTML onto your website?
If you are a Wordpress user, you just need to install a responsive Wordpress theme, and you’re all set.
3. Compress images
Images are essential for almost any web content.
They help to make large chunks of text easy to read and scan, giving your readers context and accessibility on your website.
Images are also highly shareable on social media, such as infographics. And because of this, visual content is the primary concern for digital marketers.
When you have a ton of images on your website, you will soon realize that they take up a ton of space and bandwidth on your web server.
And when that happens, your website will load more slowly, and that will affect the experience for your mobile users who are on slower cell networks.
To solve this problem, you should compress all your images to free up server space and improve load times.
When you compress your images, you need to determine which file format is the best for your website needs.
Some of the most common image file formats you can use are JPG, PNG, and GIF.
PNG is usually the most recommended file format for images, thanks to its ability to reduce file sizes by up to 95% in Photoshop with barely any loss in quality.
4. Get rid of Flash
In the early years of the Internet, Macromedia (now Adobe) Flash was all the rage.
Everything on the web was powered by Flash - website headers, landing pages, chat boxes, online web games- you name it. They depended heavily on complicated code which proved to be too clunky for its own good.
And little by little, major websites start to drop Flash in favour of simple, sleek web design. Today, HTML5 is the new standard due to its lightweight code and ease of use.
And unlike HTML5, Flash doesn’t translate well to mobile at all. And to make things worse, there are several security vulnerabilities in Flash, making it unsafe for any user.
While Flash is excellent for games, it has no place on any business website. If your site is still running Flash, it’s time to get rid of this dinosaur.
5. Clean up your mobile site’s structure
The way you arrange your web content for mobile devices has to be optimised too. People tend to view websites in a particular manner on mobile devices, and it is different than on desktops.
On desktops, users scan the website in an F-shape pattern, starting from the logo and then across to the right, followed by a quick downward scan towards the bottom of the page.
But on mobile devices, users tend to hone in on the area that is relevant to their search, then read the content downwards.
It’s very much unlike the typical F pattern that users do when they read desktop pages.
You need to visit your mobile website and see it with your own eyes, then you’ll be able to see in from your audience’s perspective.
Once you put yourself in their shoes, you’ll be able to tweak your page structure.
When a relevant image is in close proximity to a chunk of text, it’s most likely to be actually read by the user, and vice versa.
That means it’s the ideal place to have a CTA or purchase button.
By testing your website, you can tell if your site is actually providing a good mobile experience for your audience.
6. Take advantage of free Google tools
Google takes up a market share of 77.43% in the Internet search engine market.
Without a doubt, having your site indexed in Google is the vital first step for getting seen by a worldwide audience.
That’s why it makes sense to use all the free tools that Google has provided for us that have integration with mobile user metrics.
Most keyword research tools allow you to change the device type in order to gauge how popular the keyword Is for mobile users.
Google Search Console also has a section where you can test how mobile-friendly your website is, and it’s a great jump-off point to figure out what you should optimise.
Google Analytics now also includes more detailed mobile usage metrics that you can access.
By clicking Mobile, then Devices, you can glance at more detailed information about which specific mobile devices are accessing your website.
7. Speed up your website
In website development, speed is essential. Slow page load times can cause high bounce rates among web users, including those that are using smart devices.
This means if you want to reach the top of Google rankings for mobile users, you’ll need a fast website that even users on slow cell networks can use.
There are many ways to achieve this, such as compressing your images. Another great way to boost your website speed is to minify your code.
When you are building a full-featured website, you often end up adding too many plugins and features.
This causes the website to become bogged down with too much code that is redundant for mobile users.
There are also a few other methods to speed up your website, such as using a CDN for your web assets and downloads, optimising database queries, cutting down the number of HTTP requests, and using RFPL caching.
8. Make full use of title tags
Searches on mobile tend to have different semantics than searches on the desktop.
And for this reason, Google has increased the title tag character limits to 78 (versus 70 on the desktop). This creates more marketing opportunities for you.
The title tag is the short text blurb that Google users see when they are browsing through search results on Google.
When users on desktops see a piece of text that is too long, Google cuts it off. But the same text will be fully visible on mobile devices because of the higher character limit.
The higher limit also allows you to insert more keywords, especially long-tailed ones to help you reach more potential users.
9. Get rid of popups from your mobile site
Pop-ups have always been frown upon by Google, as they are disruptive to Google users’ experience.
Any website that users popups sites on mobile devices will be penalised by Google because of its intrusive nature.
When you have limited screen real estate on a smartphone, a fullscreen popup will disrupt the browsing experience.
Instead of using popups to encourage signups or publicise any promotions, consider replacing your popups with other forms of digital advertising.
For example, you can make use of in-text hyperlinks with affiliate referrals to earn ad revenue. Or you can insert CTA prompts and buttons across your web pages to encourage conversions.
These alternatives help you earn ad revenue without the fear of being penalised by Google.
While you can still run popups on the desktop, but they are no longer as effective as they used to thanks to the widespread use of popup blockers.
So it’s a good idea that you should just scrape popups off your website altogether.
Without a doubt, mobile is the future direction of web search.
Mobile optimisation for your website isn’t just a fad. It’s a brilliant way to boost your website among your mobile users.
The key is to reduce friction in the mobile browsing experience, cutting down to little to zero frustrated users.
If your audience can read your blog, check out your products, read the reviews and buy your product without any frustrations, you are much more likely to end up with more happy customers than annoyed users who decide to abandon your website.
As more people turn to their mobile devices to use Google instead of going to their office or home desktop, we are spending increasingly more time on our mobile devices.
And not to mention the number of technological advancements over the horizon that will potentially change the digital marketing landscape as we know it.
Things such as the use of voice assistants, in-app searches, and IoT devices that are intelligent enough to give you the answers before you even start searching are changing how we use search on mobile devices.
You can start by optimising your website to address queries from your mobile users, and you’ll see an increase in your search rankings and build a sustainable digital marketing foundation for years to come.
About Murray Dare
A digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur,
Murray runs his marketing agency Murraydare.co.uk and several online startups.
Murray has helped startups and businesses achieve online success through a considered approach to marketing.