Tomorrow Google is officially rolling out an update to its algorithm that will reward websites for being Mobile-friendly. Over 60% of all search traffic comes from mobile devices for small businesses. Marketers and SEO consultants have bene scrambling for the past few months to make sure their own websites and their clients’ websites comply with this update. In true Google fashion, they were very vague about what constitutes “mobile-friendly”, but they did at least offer up this tool to make us feel warmy and fuzzy if we “pass the test”.
If you’re like many people, and you’ve ignored Google’s warnings thus far, here are a few tips to follow to quickly make your website more mobile-friendly.
Tip #1: Test your Website on the Google Mobile-friendly Checking Tool
If you passed, great, move on to tip #2! Know that just because your site passed the test on Google doesn’t mean that it’s truly mobile-friendly. It just means that Google detected the site’s layout as generally friendly for most mobile devices. You still have a lot of opportunity to optimize your site for mobile users with the enhancements outlined below.
If you didn’t pass the test, your options may be limited based on how your current site was developed. Are you using an open-source CMS like WordPress or Drupal? That’s good news if so, because they both offer a wide variety of responsive design themes that you can switch to if you haven’t already, or you can install the WP Touch mobile website plugin for your existing WordPress site. If you don’t have a flexible CMS, you may need to consider a redesign of your website or building a separate mobile site. I usually recommend to clients building an adaptive responsive website if their website is less than 100 pages. If more than 100 pages, a separate mobile website may be warranted. Most eCommerce sites work better with a separate mobile site as well.
Tip #2: Think with your Thumbs – Replace Text Links with Buttons and Menus
Replacing your hard-to-touch text links with large buttons and menus helps mobile users navigate your site more efficiently. Most of us our thumbs to touch on links on websites from a smartphone, and as you can imagine, some of our thumbs are bigger than others. This is affectionately known as “fat finger syndrome”. The size of your links and calls-to-action as well as the spacing between those links makes a big difference in improving your site’s mobile user experience.
Apple’s iPhone Guidelines recommend a target size of 44 pixels wide and 44 pixels tall for buttons and calls to action. Since Etsy.com recently went public on the stock market, let’s take a look at their mobile home page.
If I had to guess, I’d say those buttons are close to 44px by 44px, and it’s almost impossible to fat finger those images when clicking through to view more about the item. So, Etsy passes the usability test for navigation.
Tip #3: Tailor Your Content for the Mobile Experience
Digital marketers forget that what works on a desktop doesn’t always work on a mobile device when it comes to content. Less is more in mobile and even more visual elements work best on mobile. Consider these things when developing and planning your mobile content:
- Use bulleted and numbered lists
- Keep paragraphs short and sweet
- Use great heading and subheadings that get the quickly get the message across to the user
- Make use of mobile-optimized images
- Ask yourself: What information does a mobile user want most from my website? (hint: Filter your Google Analytics data for mobile users and check out the most visited pages report)
Tip #4: Optimize Your Website Goals
Why does your website exist? Most business websites exist to collect leads or sell a product. Make sure that the main goal of your website is optimized for the mobile experience. If your information looks great on a mobile device but your lead form or shopping cart looks like crap on a mobile device, users will get frustrated and leave. Again, think about the stat above that 60% of searches for small businesses come from mobile devices.
Here are a few mobile-friendly email collection lead form WordPress plugins:
- Ninja Forms
Here’s a list of mobile-friendly ecommerce plugins:
- The Cart Press
- Tomato Cart
- Open Cart
Tip #5: Avoid Mobile SEO Mistakes
Search engine companies know the trend. They’re reading their own data, and they know that mobile usage has grown exponentially over the past five years. Google and Bing will place more emphasis on websites to be mobile-friendly, and SEO best practices now include mobile-specific best practices when optimizing a website.
Google’s Mobile Webmaster Guide is a good starting point for mobile SEO considerations and mistakes to avoid.