How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile Devices and the Benefits of Doing So

Having examined the importance of mobile optimization and the effects of Google’s new mobile search algorithm, we will consider the various aspects of optimizing a website for mobile devices and why it is beneficial for your business. Your website plays a key role in how people view your brand. After all, your company website is available to prospects and customers 24/7. Plus, according to Research at Google, a site visitor takes just about 50 milliseconds to form an opinion about your website. In that instant, the user will determine whether they like your site or not, and more importantly, whether they will stay or leave.

If creating a strong brand identity is important to you, then you must do all you can to deliver a great user experience for mobile site visitors.

Is My Website Mobile-Friendly?

Last month, Google announced that they would be adding an official “mobile-friendly” label within mobile search results.

In order for a site to be eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label, it must:

  • Avoid using software that is uncommon on mobile devices (like Adobe Flash, which does not work on most devices)
  • Use legible font sizes (Google recommends a base font size of 16 CSS pixels)
  • Reduce the need for scrolling horizontally or zooming (by sizing the screen content to fit within the viewport)
  • Place links far enough apart for enhanced tappability (so the correct link can easily be tapped)

Interacting with a site that has not been optimized to be viewed on a mobile device can be very frustrating. According to one Google study, 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing from their phone. For a quick way to see if your website is mobile-friendly, test your pages with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. For a list of mobile usability issues across your entire site, you can make use of the Mobile Usability Reports in Google Webmaster Tools.

The tools and guides provided by Google can help website owners to ensure their site is deemed mobile-friendly. If you have determined that your content is not optimized for mobile, it’s time to make some changes and remedy the situation. You have three options.

Choose The Right Mobile Optimization Approach

There are three website configurations that Google recognizes as mobile-friendly – responsive web design, dynamic serving, and separate URLs. To decide what’s best for you, we can examine each option carefully.

Option 1. Responsive Design – Google’s #1 recommended design pattern.

A website is “responsive” in that it responds, or adapts as a viewer moves from desktop to phone to tablet. The URL stays the same and serves the same HTML code regardless of the device being used to access the content. A responsive design is built to handle different devices and viewport sizes.

Option 2. Dynamic Serving

Although dynamic serving uses the same URL for all devices, the server responds with different HTML (and CSS) based on what is known about the user’s browser. This technique requires user-agents that will determine what kind of device the viewer is using to dynamically serve up the appropriate view. Unfortunately, detecting user-agents can be an error-prone technique. Learn more about dynamic serving.

Option 3. Separate URLs

Unlike the other two options, this configuration serves different code to each device on separate URLs. In other words, this option involves implementing a separate mobile site – meaning there are two copies of the same site for Google to crawl and for you to maintain. Each desktop URL would have an equivalent different URL serving mobile-optimized content; e.g. www.example.com for desktop users and m.example.com for mobile users. Because this configuration redirects to the appropriate website depending on the device detected, faulty redirects is a common mistake. In addition, a visitor may accidentally click the link to view the mobile website while on a desktop computer.

Additional Tips for a Mobile-Friendly Website:

  • No matter which configuration you choose to set up, remember to signal to Google when a page has been formatted for mobile.
  • Visual appeal is important, but ease of use is foremost – streamline your visitor experience by creating easier ways to complete common tasks.
  • Keep resources crawlable. Always allow Googlebot access to the JavaScript, CSS, and image files used by your website.
  • Avoid using unplayable content and features that may frustrate mobile visitors.
  • Don’t use interstitial ads or overlays (like a sign-up form) on your mobile device since they almost always completely cover the contents of the page and can result in a bad user experience.
  • Monitor your site speed and ensure that your site loads quickly for mobile users. Google PageSpeed Insights can help you to see if your site has any issues that can slow your pages down.

For more suggestions about building a site for mobile devices, visit https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/get-started.

Consistency is essential for developing a strong brand identity. Achieving an integrated look and feel involves having a website that is consistent across all devices and easy to navigate.

Why Having a Mobile-Friendly Site is Worthwhile

Besides the advantages of having happier mobile site visitors, consider the other benefits of having a mobile-friendly site. Being approved by Google is a big deal, resulting in higher search rankings and a mobile-friendly label in the mobile search results. This in turn, builds consumer engagement and increases sales. For online-only retailers, Kissmetrics reports that a mobile-friendly site can increase consumer engagement by as much as 85%! Stand out from the competition with a mobile-optimized website that showcases your brand’s contemporary identity.

Going mobile can cost time and money, but you can make the most of your resources by contacting an expert. If your site was built with Flash or using outdated platforms, contact the Internet marketing consultants at WSI Philadelphia to learn how we can implement the newest web development techniques for your site.

We strive to understand your mobile audience in order to develop a site that your customers need. Even after the initial launch, we continue improving your mobile site to keep up with Google’s changing algorithms and make your site the best it can be. These days, having a mobile-friendly website is a fundamental part of a business’ online presence. Add mobile optimization to your marketing strategy and experience the benefits for your business.