How to avoid mistakes when optimising your site for mobile?

26th April 2018

Can you ensure users get the same experience of your site on a mobile device as they do on a desktop? Multidevice optimisation comes in various forms, but it is understood that it is not just a passing trend. With the mobile first index currently rolling out, it has become increasingly imperative for companies to adopt a robust mobile strategy.

Mobile-first index means Google will create and rank its search listings based on the mobile version of content, even for listings that are shown to desktop users. If your mobile version has less content on page A than the desktop version of page A, then Google will probably just see the mobile version with less content. Google recommends to go with a responsive approach to ensure the content is the same on a page-by-page basis from your desktop to your mobile site. Mobile versions are still in use but there is more room for error.

A great user experience begins with extensive research into both the user journey and the constraints of mobile. Some of the mistakes to avoid will no doubt appear conspicuous, but with the UK leading the world in mobile internet use, the devil is in the detail.

Don’t hide content

Some companies make the false assumption that users want simplified experience on mobile. It’s important to remember that mobile users want to see everything that the desktop user can, and delivered faster. Your content should provide fantastic value to your user-base. Knowing your audience, their online behaviour and habits should be a constant pursuit for webmasters as it offers opportunities for optimisation.

Tabbed content

On desktop, content hidden under tabs is not weighted as high, but on mobile content like this will be given full weight if done for user experience purposes.

Use descriptive and search friendly headings to prioritise content you want visitors to see first with a brief description of each paragraph, then hide the rest of the content under tabs and as long as it’s still visible to search engine crawlers, it will get indexed.

Gated content

Gated content is not recommended if you want to increase your user engagement and reduce bounce rate. Gated content can increase sales leads and filters out those who are ‘just browsing’ but on mobile it’s much more disruptive to the user experience, as the touch screen makes inputting information `difficult. Ungated content, on the other hand, builds trust with prospects and viewers, removes road blocks for consumers and can help with SEO (more traffic, shares and inbound links). Give users a chance to experience your brand and your offering without an immediate commitment.

When it comes to international content, the same rules apply as they do on desktop – avoid Google translate and similar tools; instead invest in natural and localised content translation.

Technical blunders

Technical aspects have a particularly big influence on phone search results.

According to Google;

“Slow loading sites frustrate users and negatively impact publishers. While there are several factors that impact revenue, our model projects that publishers whose mobile sites load in 5 seconds earn up to 2x more mobile ad revenue than those whose sites load in 19 seconds.3 The study also observed 25% higher ad viewability4 and 70% longer average sessions5 for sites that load in 5 seconds vs 19 seconds.”

Source: Think with Google: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-154/insights-inspiration/research-data/need-mobile-speed-how-mobile-latency-impacts-publisher-revenue/

Page load is part of ranking algorithm and has a huge influence on bounce rate and engagement.

Optimise your mages

Users should be delivered the perfect image size for their chosen device but it has to be served using correct specifications to ensure fast page load.

Be selective with your CTAs

Decide what you want your visitors to do, and add simple and easy to notice calls to action. Sticky navigation is an excellent way of making sure CTAs are visible throughout.

Other technical considerations

  • Minimise requests by removing unnecessary elements from your page. For example, there may be a redundant JavaScript that can be consolidated to improve speed.
  • Don’t block your files such as JavaScript, CSS or image files as it may affect your rankings. Check Google Search Console or use Google Mobile Friendly tool to check for any potential indexing issues.
  • Check your mobile site’s use of interstitials and popup ads. If you’re displaying any popup that covers your screen, you need to rethink your mobile design. As of January 10, Google announced that“pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high.”
  • Evade bad redirects and broken links. A common error is to redirect a user trying to access a URL on a desktop site to an irrelevant URL on a mobile site or vice versa. Another problem can be caused by redirect loops, when users attempt to visit desktop site but are redirected back to the mobile site.
  • Add rich snippets to improve your click through rates.
  • Specify mobile viewport using viewport meta tag to control your pages’ dimensions and scaling.
  • Test the usability across all devices to find discrepancies and suggest improvements.

With the recent changes to its algorithm, Google is now penalising bad mobile experiences. If the user experience is poor, the rankings go down. Develop a strong mobile experience and you will be justly rewarded.

Evolving your website into a responsive, device agnostic digital presence can be daunting, but the opportunity to reach the right audience at any place, any time is incredibly exciting.

 

 

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