70% of small business websites are being penalized by Google for not being mobile friendly, so I am here to tell you how not to be a statistic.
A study by Bigtalker showed that, out of 3,400 small businesses interviewed in the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK, just 30 percent had mobile safe websites. Out of those, 10% have no website and over 60% have antiquated sites.
What you need to know is, since 2015, mobile search results favor webmasters with mobile optimized websites. Google queries from mobile phones currently bring up different results than desktop searches, leaving out or downgrading search results which lead to non-mobile friendly landing pages.
While this doesn’t affect your desktop ranking, over a third of all website traffic worldwide is made up of mobile traffic, with a rise to almost 40% estimated for 2016. In other words, if your site is not optimized for mobile searches you are currently missing out on a third of your market, and that number is rising quickly.
User behavior is also a key factor here, with mobile users also choosing to spend more time on their device, compared to desktop users. In the US alone, the average mobile online media time metrics have already surpassed desktop metrics. 51% of time spent online is spent on a phone, compared to a 42% rate for desktops.
No more chit-chat, the rules
First of all, the best way to see if your site is considered mobile friendly by Google is to take their test here.
If the results are not in your favor then YES, your pages are definitely turning up lower on mobile search.
With a responsive site, your pages will change layout to fit all devices, but mobile friendly for Google doesn’t always lead to conversions. What you should be aiming for is user friendly as well, having your potential customers be able to properly read your content and browse your site.
1. Make text readable
Since many older smartphones display 320px to 400px across, keep in mind to lower the font size on the site, while keeping the text readable. Content fonts should be readable without zoom, and I recommend using at least a 16px font size. Headings should not be more than 5 words long, and displayed in a larger font.
2. Content should be resized and adapted
Resize content to fit the screen better, in order to eliminate part of the scrolling. This may require rearranging some of the content, taking out some parts, reducing the size of some elements and arranging them side by side.
3. Spacing and button size
Buttons and links should be large enough to be clickable, therefore having enough space between them is a must. The user should able to select and tap them easily. The clickable space has to be clearly defined, since there is no hover option on mobile.
4. Give users feedback when interacting with the screen
Since we are talking about a lack of hover, find different ways to signal that an action has been taken. This applies to users with older devices, less processing power and a slower connection. Since they will be waiting for the action to take place, they need to have a clue about what is going on in the background. You can change the color of bounding boxes, add a button indent or highlight a hyperlink.
Forms follow the basic rules of links, in that they should be sufficiently spaced apart and clickable. However, they should also be simplified and have fewer fields, given that the visitor you are targeting is on the go.
6. Page speed
While using Flash was a thing in the early 2000s, nowadays it’s just a giant faux-pas, as it just doesn’t load on mobile. Keep video embedding standard HTML5 and provide a transcript or short description, just to make sure.
Google has rolled out a specific mobile intrusive interstitial penalty in January. What this means for you is that you will rank lower for having pop-ups that cover the main content completely or partially, hiding information until they are closed. If you are loading your content under a modal when launching a page, that is also frowned upon. Here is an explanatory illustration by Search Engine Land:
Everybody knows to bundle the menu in a sandwich button, but what about those dropdowns? Some of them are activated by hovering on the desktop, and they won’t become active until tapped on mobile. They will still be there and still work, but they will be hidden in the menu. Keep in mind to make them visible by adding indicators about a dropdown being there. Since their functionality mimics that of links, they should also be spaced apart and clearly separated.
10. Mobile-specific features
The difference between devices also brings on unique opportunities. On mobile, you can add a link to your number, allowing visitors to call you using Skype, their native phone options, or whatever options they have set up. More so, clicking on your address, provided you have turned it into a link, will bring up Google Maps.
Google Local Search
Don’t miss out on optimizing your site for local mobile searches, as users searching for products and services in a specific area are more likely to become customers.
Google reports that 51% of customers buying locally will perform a local search beforehand. They are usually searching for an address, a phone number, product availability and working hours. It’s important that your contact page is mobile optimized.
80% of consumers buying locally will perform a local search before hand, and most smartphone users searching on the go have a local intent.
Mobile Ecommerce traffic has grown 247% in 2015
Research has shown that buying intent within smartphone users is larger than ever before, while mobile traffic has more than doubled in 2015, compared to 2014. With more traffic come more sales and, during the holidays seasons, those sales skyrocketed.
A Google study shows that many these sales took place after customers has performed local Google searches. However, we cannot forget about the steps prior to that local search – planning, reading about the products that fit the users’ needs, comparing different products and reading reviews about them and their suppliers.
In order to drive sales on your mobile ecommerce store, your site should project trust through Testimonials and user reviews, as well as reliable payment methods. The same call to actions used on desktop may not work on mobile, therefore a lot of testing is necessary.
The bottom line is that your best bet for higher Google rankings on all devices is creating one big responsive website and building up its authority and conversion rate. It should include trust criteria such as personal info, testimonials or details on payment security. However, when it displays on mobile it should shrink and give out only important, actionable info. All buttons and text should be visible, all links clickable and all pop-ups should be non-intrusive. Do all of this, and you should be good to go!