How to improve your mobile website

The use of mobile devices is increasingly growing. In fact, in 2016 mobile usage overtook desktop for the first time ever. With that in mind, it’s important for businesses to ensure they have a mobile version of their website, and to make sure it’s user-friendly.

If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you not only risk losing customers, but you could incur SEO damage. In 2015, Google rolled out an algorithm update known as ‘mobilegeddon.’ If Google considers your website to not be mobile-friendly, you’ll see the website decrease in search engine results. This essentially rewards businesses who have created mobile websites with the user experience in mind.

Want to avoid receiving a penalty from Google for your mobile website? There are a few ways you can optimise your mobile website to improve the user experience:

Run tests

Trying to improve your mobile website but don’t even know where to start? Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test will help you out. This tool will let you know whether or not your website is mobile friendly. To see the result, all you have to do is enter in your website’s URL. You will be told whether your site is mobile-friendly or not, and if not, what is the problem. The tool will also show you how your website looks on a mobile.    

Decide on a mobile-friendly design

The first thing to do is to decide how your website is going to be mobile-friendly. You have several options:

  • Responsive design: this option is recommended by Google. Having a responsive design means your website will all be on one URL, which makes it easier for Google in regards to indexing. If you’ve got a WordPress website, your theme will more than likely already be responsive.
  • Separate site: some businesses choose to have a separate site for mobile users. Every time someone on a user accesses their website, they are redirected to a mobile-specific URL.
  • Apps: apps are rising in popularity and are a great option to consider. However, an app is generally used in combination with other options.

Optimise your website    

If you’re wanting your website to be considered mobile-friendly by Google, there are a few criteria you should meet. These include:

  • Avoid Flash: software such as Flash often isn’t compatible with mobiles. Consider other options that will render on mobiles.
  • Text size: it’s frustrating when you load a website and have to zoom in to read text. Make sure your text is scaled correctly. Google offers some helpful advice regarding legible font sizes.     
  • Page size: when on a mobile, users want to be scrolling vertically, not horizontally. If they have to scroll horizontally, you’ve created a bad user experience. Make sure your pages are not too wide in order to display correctly on a mobile.
  • Links: you want users to be able to click the right links, and not accidentally click on another link that is too close. Make sure all of your links are spacious enough to create a good user experience.

Other elements that you can’t forget about when improving your mobile website include:

Website speed

This is an important factor, as it could not only lose you customers, but also impacts your SEO. People don’t want to wait for a website to slowly load – especially on their mobiles. If users know your website loads slowly, chances are they won’t return to your website again.

Website speed is also an important factor in regards to Google’s ranking. If your website takes too long to load, you’ll notice a drop in rankings. To avoid a decline in rankings, test the speed of your website, particularly after making any big updates.

There are a few things that cause your website to run slow, including:

  • Image size: if your website is image heavy, chances are it will load slowly. Make sure to scale your images to speed up your website.
  • Caching: if you’re using browser caching, the browser will know page elements don’t change often, and will therefore save them into its cache. This makes websites load faster, as only new and dynamic content has to be downloaded each time.
  • Redirects: if a page is moved or deleted, a redirect will be put in place. However, if there are too many redirects in place, it will make the website slower, or the page may not load altogether. To reduce the risk of problems occurring, avoid endless redirects and use direct links.  

Blocking JavaScript, HTML and CSS

Blocking these elements makes it harder for Google to access your website. This means you could see a dip in your rankings for both your mobile and desktop websites.

404s

Sometimes you’ll notice a page looks fine when on a desktop, but then returns a 404 on your mobile. To avoid this, make sure you always redirect users to the mobile version of your pages.

It’s a good idea to always test your website to see how it displays, as well as if there are any 404s.

Easy to use

The main thing with mobile websites are that they need to be easy to use. This means your design needs to be fairly simplistic, with easily recognisable symbols. You want your users to be able to easily access the menu, contact us section, and social media share buttons. Including these, and making them highly visible, will ensure your customers can easily navigate around your website and will continue to use it.  

Considering the continual rise in popularity of mobiles, it’s important to ensure your website is fully optimised, not only for Google, but for your users. Always focus on creating a great user experience, and you will be sure to see an increased traffic flow to your mobile website.