On October 2016, mobile took over desktop/PC as the device used by people to access websites. Google has been preparing for this to happen since 2015, so by November 2016, Google’s mobile-first index was launched. This means Google is moving towards crawling and indexing mobile-friendly websites, but ranking of sites still reflect the desktop-based index…at least, for now.
How Will this Affect You?
If you have a blog, company website, or any other online property (beyond social media accounts), then it is important that you work on making your property mobile-friendly. This means that a mobile version of your site should be available, load fast, and provide a better user experience than its desktop version.
If you don’t do something about it, your mobile search ranking will drop significantly. In turn, your site’s chances of being visited and seen by customers would also drop and result to less leads, less conversions, and less sales (if you’re selling something on your site).
3 Elements of a Mobile-Friendly Site
Now that you understand the significance of Google’s mobile-first index, it’s time to get cranking. The three most important elements you should work on include:
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- Responsiveness of design – A responsive design basically means that your original desktop-size site has adapted to fit the size of a tablet, laptop, smartphone and other mobile devices, and maintain the same design regardless of which device a visitor is using.
- Page loading speed – Web usability statistics show that over half of mobile users will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. If you rely on these site visitors to buy products, read your information, or make money online, this is something you should worry about.
- User experience – Navigation and usability would dictate of how successful your site’s transition from desktop to mobile is. When developing or making changes to your mobile site, it’s important to think about how you hold your mobile devices when surfing the web.
Search Console: Google’s Here to Help!
Google’s Search Console can help you through mobile search optimization. The console is a comprehensive tool that checks many mobile usability issues such as:
- Typography – Scaling issues from desktop to mobile are common, but if not fixed, visitors would have to zoom in their screens to ready small-sized fonts. For some visitors, the hassle might not be worth it and leaving your site would be the next best option.
- Flash usage – Mobile browsers are often unable to render Flash, so if your site is based on Flash, it may be time to adapt to another technology.
- Touch elements – If a site visitor finds it hard to tap parts of a site, your site might need to adjust touch elements appropriately.
- Viewport issues – Viewport metatag helps browsers in scaling a website for a particular device. If this isn’t configured, content of your site isn’t sized to accommodate viewport, or your site is using fixed-width pages, issues with viewport may arise.
There are other mobile search optimization issues you might need to tackle. These include hosting speed, calls-to-action placement, visibility of menus, home page access, ad placement, site search location, form input, ecommerce store considerations, and more.
The Bottom Line
The fact is, site visitors are five times more likely to leave if your website isn’t mobile-friendly. And since more people search on mobile phones than computers, webmasters should make mobile-search its top priority for the rest of 2017.
The good news for webmasters is that the ACTUAL mobile-first index likely won’t be executed fully until 2018. This means everyone who has a blog, website or other online property has enough time to figure out what to do, make the necessary changes to adapt, and hopefully maintain their rankings on Google.