May 2015 Special Section

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?


Written By: Mike Cushing

We’re all familiar with SEO: your business needs good blog content, social media profiles and all the high quality links you can get. Over the last few years, however, Google has begun to place more importance on user experience as part of search engine optimization.

WHY IS MOBILE IMPORTANT?
If you’re looking at your website’s Google Analytics on a regular basis — if you’re not, you should — you’ve probably noticed that your mobile traffic has been rising steadily during the last two to three years. A recent com Score report said that smartphone and tablet traffic now account for more than 60 percent of web traffic, and Google has finally started to reward websites that provide a good user experience.

Increasingly, search engine optimization means user experience optimization.

Mobile friendliness is still a small part of Google rankings (there are more than 200 unique ranking signals), but you need to focus on mobile if you’re trying to stay on the leading edge of SEO. As your users move to mobile, Google will continue to make mobile user experience more important. So, what do you do next?

IS MY SITE MOBILE FRIENDLY?
First, you need to figure out if your site is delivering a strong user experience. Google has made this easy, and you can probably gauge mobile friendliness just by looking at your site on your smartphone. If you have to do a lot of pinching and zooming, it may be time to reinvest in your website.

Start by doing a Google search for your website on your phone. Google has been labeling mobile friendly pages for the last few months, so if you see “mobile-friendly” next to your search result, you’re off to a good start.

Google provides a Mobile-Friendly Test Tool — just enter your web page URL, and it will crawl your site and identify mobile usability errors that will affect your site. Those items include:

• Content that fits the screen without zooming or scrolling
• Text that is readable without zooming
• Links placed far enough apart so users can easily tap links or buttons
• Mobile friendly software like JavaScript instead of Flash

The test will reveal exactly what needs to be fixed on your site and offer suggestions to achieve mobile friendliness. While there are a few options for mobile websites, you should make sure that any change to your website supports your business goals and the needs of your users.

FIXING YOUR MOBILE WEBSITE
352 has worked with Crime Prevention Security Systems for nearly five years. In the last three years, mobile traffic has grown from just 3 percent of site traffic to more than 50 percent of visits. While it was not important for the site to be mobile friendly at launch, creating a new mobile site has been one of our top marketing priorities.

Before doing a full site redesign, we identified the most important mobile landing pages for Crime Prevention through Google Analytics. Then, we launched a mobile landing page with touch friendly navigation and a simple tap-to-call button.

The most recent Google update is different than others in two important ways: it only affects one page at a time, and it’s a pass-fail test. There are no shades of gray; a page is either mobile friendly or it isn’t, but one page will not affect the rankings of your entire site. While it may seem harsh, it also provides flexibility to website owners.

While you should always invest in your website, you may not have the budget for a full redesign. Instead, you can use Google Analytics data to prioritize your most important mobile pages and create mobile friendly pages to ensure that your customers can still find you in mobile Google searches.

It can be difficult to keep up with Google’s changes, but mobile user experience should be your biggest priority in the next few months. Even if you don’t currently have the budget to build a responsive website, you can follow our lead with Crime Prevention and make some creative tweaks to your site to ensure you stay on Google’s good side. Simple changes like increasing mobile font sizes and optimizing buttons for mobile can go a long way toward making your site better for users and for Google.

MIKE CUSHING
is a marketing strategist at 352 Inc., a digital product development agency specializing in user experience design, custom web development and digital marketing.

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