Do you have a mobile website? If so, you are one step ahead of the game.
However, creating a mobile site is only one part of a successful mobile optimization strategy.
Mobile usage has been steadily increasing since its inception, with about 20% of web traffic currently hailing from a mobile audience. Smartphone and tablet sales are rising yearly and “portable” internet access is no longer a fad, but a reality for hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
Is your mobile site optimized? If not, you are missing out on potential sales and possibly Google rankings.
Google’s Opinion of Mobile Website Optimization
Google recently announced it would incorporate mobile-friendly signals into its algorithm. Here is what the search engine said on its blog:
“To improve the search experience for smartphone users and address their pain points, we plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users”.
If you are concerned about rankings and you want to learn how to optimize your mobile website for the user and for Google, here is a handy checklist to get you started.
1. Page Speed
If your website visitor has to wait more than five seconds for your site to load, your mobile website is too slow. Slow page speed is one of the “mistakes” Google mentions when it assesses your mobile website experience.
To understand this concept wholly, consider the mindset of your mobile visitors. Where are they when they are searching the web?
Mobile devices are what their name suggests “mobile.” Mobility refers to “on the go” which is where your mobile visitors will most likely be when navigating the web. This suggests they will be away from their desktop computers and as a result, they will expect results FAST. If they don’t get what they want in the time they want it, they will find it somewhere else and become frustrated during the process.
How to you improve your site speed and keep your visitors on your site?
- Use Google Analytics to find the pages your mobile traffic visits the most and optimize those pages first.
- Prioritize optimization of pages mobile visitors would most likely visit “on the go.” For example, a real estate website might prioritize a listings page for mobile visitors to access while they are passing by a “For Sale” sign.
- Large images slow down load times. Compress images to speed things up.
- Enhance readability by breaking up large chunks of content
Is there excessive pinching, zooming, and scrolling when you view your mobile site? Are your buttons too small causing users to click the “wrong” ones?
If so, your site may not be optimized fully. Keep the important information “front and center” and avoid using bulky images and complex design elements that would distract the mobile user. Consider colors and buttons that allow your mobile audience to access what they want quickly without the need to work their fingers.
When you use separate URLs to serve up your desktop and mobile clients, you must implement mobile redirects to offer the user the best version of your site based on the mobile device they are using. Without redirects in place, you will not only frustrate your visitors but you may be at risk of duplicate content. By redirecting and modifying your user agent settings for mobile bots, Google will know to disregard your mobile website and as a result, the search engine will not see it as a duplicate.
It’s not enough to simply redirect users to your mobile site, however. According to Google, faulty redirects are also a problem since they contribute to a poor user experience.
When your desktop page redirects to an irrelevant web page on your mobile site, it is known as a faulty redirect. For example, you may stumble upon a website’s internal page on your tablet, only to be redirected to the mobile site’s homepage once you click on the search result.
Here is an example of how this works (the red arrows signify faulty redirects)
Your mobile audience already has to face slower network speeds, so by redirecting them to the home page where they will have to search further to find the internal page they desire on the mobile site, you may lose their interest and send them away.
According to Google, if your mobile site doesn’t contain an equivalent page to your desktop site, serve up your desktop version first before implementing a faulty redirect.
Tip: On your mobile site, give users the option to access the desktop version. Make this link prominent on all pages as some users prefer the desktop version, particularly if they are frequent visitors who are accustomed to the desktop layout.
4. Optimize Conversions
When optimizing your mobile site for conversions, think about what information your mobile users would need to access. For example, Geico would prioritize accident and breakdown content on their mobile site since mobile users are most likely in need of this emergency information.
If you own a local establishment, keep directions, locations and click-to-call numbers easily accessible. Use store locaters with quick zip code search functionality. If you offer daily discounts, feature them on your mobile site so users thinking about visiting your location will have an additional incentive. Don’t forget to also optimize your website for local keywords!
5. Get Social!
People love to share their locations and special finds with their social audience while they are “on the go.” Give your mobile audience every chance to share your content, location and offers easily. Make them accessible and visible and if you are a local establishment, offer incentives for check-ins.
6. Shared Functionality
Imagine a woman “favorited” a pair of shoes on your desktop site and saved it to her account. Later that night she went out with her friends at dinner and wanted to show them the dress she favorited on her tablet to ask them their opinion. If your mobile site doesn’t house the same functionality, you will lose that user experience and possibly the sale.
For a website like Love Culture, these functionalities may include their lookbooks and most importantly, the “fitting room,” a place where users can share their looks with friends and family.
It can be difficult to figure out which desktop functions to forgo when creating a mobile experience because users may visit your desktop and mobile site interchangeably throughout the day. But, this doesn’t mean you should neglect the mobile experience. Serving up your desktop site to a mobile customer can contribute to a poor user experience as well.
So, what do you do?
Think about the features you advertise that adds to the overall user experience. Functions like favorites, wish lists, shares and product details would be items you want to keep to create a seamless experience from desktop to mobile site. Try to keep both sites as consistent as possible without slowing down the mobile site and diminishing the mobile experience.
Have you checked off all of your mobile optimization to-dos? How many items have you completed?
Don’t hesitate! Checking off these items will not only increase your conversions but it will enlarge your industry popularity and help you outperform the websites that aren’t taking advantage of the power of mobile optimization.