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Mobile friendly websites are a must for your Google ranking

Mobile friendly websites are nothing new, but it still amazes me how many companies still don’t have this simple SEO requirement right. Google is implementing changes in July targeted at making the internet faster for everyone. This means you need to have a website that is mobile friendly and fast.

As part of these changes, Google will start crawling on a mobile-first basis. Crawling is the process of reading and indexing the content of your website. This means how your site ranks in Google will depend on your mobile site first and foremost. If you don’t have a mobile friendly website then you are going to see a big impact.

What is a mobile-friendly website?

Mobile friendly websites are those built to deliver a great experience when accessed from a smartphone or small screen device. Also known as mobile optimised, they don’t disadvantage a user just because they are on a mobile.

Before smartphones were even a thing, developers built websites with only one browser and one screen size in mind. You were in a like it or lump situation if your computer didn’t match how the website was built.

This didn’t work for the user and it also didn’t work for the owner of the website. The point of most websites is to make information accessible, so restricting who and how users access your site is counter-intuitive.

Fast forward to now and the user experience is vital to a successful website. Surprisingly enough though this doesn’t necessarily mean that your website has to be pretty. Some of the best converting websites are the least visually appealing sites (you can read more about this here).

A mobile-friendly website is user-friendly and fast. The user can find and digest the information they need easily and quickly. No having to turn your screen sideways or having to pinch and zoom, and no standing around while you wait for a giant image or video to load.

Is my website mobile friendly?

You can test your website on your mobile to see if it is user-friendly. When your page loads you should be able to view the text and images without having to pinch and zoom. You should also be able to use the menu navigation easily. Try accessing every page you can on your website through your navigation. Some navigations use drop down or pop up fields that don’t work on mobiles which means the user can’t access the pages they need to.

Lastly, you need to do a speed test to see how long it takes to load the page. There are a few websites out there that will test the speed of your page and provide you with a list of issues that are found. Unless you are a developer then the information you find on these sites probably isn’t going to make much sense.

The easiest way to check both if your site is mobile friendly, and its speed is to use the tools that Google itself provides. They then give you a rating and tell you how you compare to the rest of the internet:

Mobile Friendly Test

PageSpeed Insights

How do you make a website mobile friendly?

There has been an evolution in recent years in the way that you build a website that is mobile friendly. Where previously you would essentially build two websites, one for desktops and one for mobiles, this would again encounter issues as it would rely on the server recognising and being familiar with the device you were using, then presenting the right version.

With the massive proliferation of devices and screen sizes, there were limitations to how well this method worked.

More recently there has been the development of something called Responsive Design. This means that your website is responsive to the size of the browser rather than the size of the screen. If you adjust the size of your browser on any device, then the layout of your website changes accordingly.

The beauty of responsive design is you only have to build one website and it will work for all devices including desktops, laptops, and tablets.

Most of the top Content Management Systems (CMS) now offer responsive design as standard, and include tools for testing and changing layouts depending on the screen/browser size.

Example of responsive design:

Desktop-Homepage-Screenshot

Mobile-Homepage-Screenshot

How do I fix a bad test score?

If you have performed a page speed test or mobile-friendly test, and not had good results then you are probably going to need your developer to help you out. The issues can lay with multiple different sources and trying to fix it yourself can cause more issues than it solves.

The good news is that if you provide your developer with the test results then they will know what to do.

Tips

Just building a website that is mobile friendly and fast doesn’t mean it will deliver results. It just means that you won’t be starting from the back of the pack.

There are some more things you can do to make sure that your mobile site also converts. Here are my tips:

Make sure all the content works

You don’t want any unplayable, unreadable, or unusable content on the page. The user shouldn’t suffer because they aren’t using a desktop or laptop computer. Your users are mobile and your content should be too.

File sizes and types

If you are expecting your users to download content from your site then make sure that:

  1. It isn’t going to eat up their monthly data allowance in one go, and
  2. It can be opened and used as intended.

Check the page goals

Are you able to achieve the goal that the page was built for? For example, if the purpose of the page is to get the customer to call you, then is the phone number visible? If the purpose was to get the user to download a file, then is that file available? This is important to ensure your conversion rates don’t suffer when compared to desktop users.

Mobile Click to Call

If the call to action on your site is for the user to call you, then can they click on your phone number to initiate the call? Time poor users won’t have time to write down or copy and paste your phone number to make a call.

Consider spacing

Fat fingers lead to misclicks, which lead to users on pages they don’t want to be on, which leads to higher bounce rates. Space your links and buttons with enough of a gap for those that are digitally disadvantaged.

Progressive Web Apps

Have you been on the receiving end of a call from a thirds party trying to sell you either their app which is the latest and greatest, and “super easy to use”, or even people trying to sell you space on their app? I know I would receive several of those calls each month, and they would always get the same response from me. No.

That doesn’t mean that having an app wasn’t the right approach for the business, it is just that building an app is one thing, but building an app that users will download and actually use is another thing.

The latest craze in the last couple of years is something called a Progressive Web App (PWA) and they don’t require any download or installation. They offer a lot of the functionality of an app but are much easier to engage a user to use because they are essentially your website.

You can check out some of the coolest PWA’s right here: pwa.rocks

Have a chat to your developer about if this will work for your website.

For more advice on how to build an effective website, read our article here: Artsy, but not too artsy

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