Sure, we all know the importance of having a mobile-friendly site. DUH, Kallie.
But, is your site really mobile-friendly for 2017 standards and beyond? Think about how quickly the internet took off? And then how quickly we were able to access it on our phones. Then think about how quickly the shift happened to where more internet is consumed on mobile devices than desktops. The game moves fast and it's important to stay ahead of the curve.
The future for mobile...
In November of 2016, Google began testing its mobile-first index. What does that mean? It means Google has started testing the idea of using the mobile versions of websites to index instead of the desktop version. And we all know when Google starts "testing" something, it usually means it's going to be the reality in 6-12 months.
Wait..wait..back up, I'm confused.
Ok, so we all know SEO is what drives your website's discoverability. SEO is a combination of a lot of things - from the content on your site, the meta-descriptions, the title tags, the links on your site, and so on. It also has to do with your site's reputation. Is your site linked from lots of other reputable sites? Or...is it linked from lots of spammy sites? All these aspects play into whether or not search engines will suggest pages from your site.
Right now, spiders crawl the desktop version of your website to decide what it's about, if it's high-authority, and so on. But, soon these spiders will be crawling the mobile version of your site over the desktop version.
Come on, what does all this really mean?
Ok, so long story short, right NOW is the time to be making sure your site is best optimized for mobile so you can stay ahead of the game.
Tips To Optimize Your Site for Mobile
1. Responsive Design
If you're not already in a responsive design, you need to be.
Responsive vs. Mobile-Version: When mobile devices first started offering the internet, many websites developed "mobile versions." These were essentially different versions of the same website that would display if the website was being viewed on a mobile device. Since then responsive design has taken over. A responsive design responds to whatever device it's being viewed on. This means the same version of a website will be shown on all devices but will shrink (and stack), when being viewed on smaller screens.
Responsive designs are important because search engines like Google already give higher priority to responsive websites. They also ensure a mobile version of your site has all the same content as the desktop version. This means when search engine spiders crawl it, they'll get all the info they need.
The speed in which your website loads is important. It's important on desktop and on mobile. You may start hearing about AMP pretty soon. That stands for "Accelerate Mobile Pages" and they are pages designed to load near instantaneously on mobile devices. The main reason speed is important is because one of the number one reasons people abandon a page is a slow load time. Not to mention, a low load time impacts your SEO. So, make sure your site loads fairly quickly.
Ways to improve speed time:
- Image optimization (more about this below)
- Removing unnecessary code form your source code
- Getting rid of flash. Most mobile users can’t view Flash elements on their phones. They will slow the site down, so just remove them.
3. Go local...if you can
This September, Google released “Possum,” which was a big-ole update to the local search algorithm.
Google recently did a report that discovered that “50 percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34 percent who searched on a computer/tablet did the same.”
As much as we can feel tempted to want to be optimized for the whole world, there is some benefit to localizing yourself. It helps you break through the clutter and find local readers and clients.
As a blogger, it also helps you to position yourself as an influencer and expert where you live. You'll start to notice more and more local companies, restaurants, and stores reaching out to you to do work!
4. Image Optimization
You should consider optimizing your images to helps improve the performance of your website. The imagery on your website is likely accounting for the most downloaded bytes happening when someone first lands on your site, so optimizing your pictures means you're giving the browsers less bytes to download. This means your images and site will load quicker for mobile users.
The simplest way to optimize your images is to use image compression, I like to use tinyPNG. This compression helps to reduce the file size of your PNG files. As explained by tinyPNG, "by selectively decreasing the number of colors in the image, fewer bytes are required to store the data. The effect is nearly invisible but it makes a very large difference in file size!"
5. Nix the pop-ups (on mobile)
For the love of mobile goodness, hide those pop-ups in mobile. If you want to have them, keep them exclusive to your desktop or tablet versions and made them hidden in mobile. Pop-ups on mobile devices are beyond annoying and you're going to get a big audience drop-off when they can't figure out how to exit the popup and read the content.
Pop-ups certainly have a time and place. And, they can be great for lead generation. Just shut them off on mobile.
6. Keep "the finger" in mind
Let's ignore how awkward this header sounds.
Remember how mobile users navigate your site, with their finger. Make sure your menu and navigation is easy to use with touchscreen devices. Also keep this in mind for clickable links. Don't make them so small that no finger would ever be able to click it.