Whether searching for a place to eat or doing some online shopping while you’re on the go, mobile use is becoming increasingly popular. It is now estimated that over half of Google searches are coming from mobile devices and that mobile phone use is set to reach over 5 billion users by 2019. Therefore, optimising your website and pages for mobile devices is now more important than ever.
What Is Mobile Optimisation?
Mobile optimisation is a process of ensuring visitors who access your site from a mobile device have the best possible experience. This means that the site has been specifically designed or optimised to suit a mobile site, such as having bigger navigation buttons, responsive website design and reformatted content.
Why Is Mobile Optimisation Important?
Preparing for Google’s Mobile First-Index
You may have heard rumours of Google beginning to roll out a mobile-first version of its index. But what exactly does this mean and how will it affect SEO?
Currently, Google’s crawling, indexing and ranking systems use the desktop version of a page’s content. Mobile first indexing means that they will use the mobile version of the content for index and ranking. This change means that mobile pages will be considered more important that desktop. Therefore, if your website and pages are not optimised for mobile, your website’s ranking and traffic could suffer as a result.
The Speed Update
One of the recent changes Google is implementing is the “Speed Update“, which means that as of July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches. According to Google:
“the speed update will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries.”
As important as page speed will become, Google also states that query intent still holds a lot of value and therefore a slow page may still rank well if the content is relevant to what the user is searching. Despite this, it will certainly help to optimise your page speed as much as possible before the update in July.
Here is a useful tool to test your website’s page speed.
Building Your Mobile-Friendly Website
There are three main options when it comes to building a mobile friendly website, including responsive design, dynamic serving and separate URL’s. When building your mobile website, it is important to keep in mind that of these three options, Google has specified that responsive design is their preferred approach because these sites do not require any additional technical implementation to optimise them for search.
Responsive web design
Mobile devices are often constrained by display size. With so many different screen sizes that exists from mobiles, tablets, game consoles, etc, it is important that your site can adapt to any screen size. Responsive web design involves developing a site that is completely flexible regardless of the device, so that the website automatically orientates itself based on the screen size of the device.
One of the main things that Google suggests when it comes to responsive websites is to set the viewport. Pages optimised for a variety of devices must include a meta viewport tag in the head of the document. By declaring a viewport, your web page can appear correctly on any device.
Google recommends that your viewport has the following:
A site that uses dynamic serving displays different content for mobile visitors than desktop ones. This involves using the same URL, regardless of the device, but generating a different version of HTML for different device types, based what type of device the visitor is using.
When a site uses different URLs for mobile and desktop uses, this involves creating a separate site for mobile users (usually m.example.com). This allows you to create custom content for mobile visitors. Over the years, this type of mobile site design has become less frequently used as responsive website design has become the preferred option.
How Can You Optimise Your Website for Mobile?
Here are a few more things to think about when optimising your site for mobile:
Improve your page speed
Improving your mobile’s page speed has become particularly important with Google’s recent “Speed Update” announcement.
Some ways you can improve page speed include:
- minifying code
- such as removing spaces, commas, unused code and unnecessary characters.
- reducing redirects
- optimising images
- leveraging browser caching
Verify mobile friendliness
There are several factors that Google takes into consideration when verifying mobile friendliness, including mobile-usability issues such as:
- Flash usage
- Most mobile browsers do not render flash-based content and therefore mobile users cannot use a page that relies on Flash
- Viewport configuration
- As users who access your site use screens with varying sizes, you should specify a viewpoint
- Small font size
- You should set your font sizes to scale properly within the viewpoint so that users do not need to zoom in to read the font
To test whether your site is mobile friendly you can use this tool.
With yearly growth in searches coming from mobile devices, there is no doubt that mobile optimisation should be an important part of your mobile SEO strategy. Make sure to stay ahead of the game with these tips, and if you need any assistance with your SEO strategy contact our team at Lauren Benedetti.