Mobile SEO in 2017
Believe it or not many of the Big Boys of the internet would benefit with some enhancements to their mobile sites with a view very much on optimization. Read onword for a comprehensive view of how to ensure you are taking advantage of the available opportunities to forge ahead. If you don’t already know, the mobile device has overtaken all others as the primary one to access the internet. Indeed, Google predicted as much in 2015. Some sources are quoting figures approaching 85% of all site visits are via mobile devices. Let’s hope battery manufacturers are paying attention to this as one of the biggest problems shoppers have to deal with is short battery life. The online shopping business will suffer greatly as a result of this problem.
Usability of Sites in the Mobile World
While responsive design has been around for some years now and is well established, there seems to be a gulf in rolling this method of design out to mobile platforms. In a nutshell, most sites are still being built for desktop internet access and being modified to be more accessible to mobile devices almost as an afterthought. Have you tried filling in a form on a mobile device recently? It is virtually impossible. This applies to many areas in this category and it needs to change in 2017.
So, let us check out the various methods for optimizing a site to be truly improved for mobile device access. We will also look at the basics of responsive design and methodologies and user experience built using these methods for mobile devices. The aim is to go the extra mile for mobile device optimization, to make our users happier and ultimately to improve business goals and conversions. Google, Bing, etc. are very much on board with this strategy so it’s better for users, better for search engines. Thumbs up all around!
This is What Google has to say about Mobile Optimization
They are pushing big time in 2017 for this to be best practice to such an extent that it becomes second nature. What follows are some of Googles promotional material in relation to this,
- 1. Most searches are now carried out on mobile devices.
- 2. People are more likely to leave a site if it isn’t friendly on a mobile device.
- 3. Speed of loading pages is another major factor which prompts users to leave a site. 3 seconds is the limit for most people before they decide to leave a site.
Mobiles generate more page views as more people now search on mobile devices rather than on computers. This fact makes it a must for businesses to make their sites mobile friendly, and not just friendly because these days’ mobile data networks are still pretty unreliable in certain areas. Therefore, sites need to be very slick and ultra-responsive in order to capture and hold on to customers.
Even though many more searches take place on mobile devices rather than on desktop devices, ranking is still predominantly based on the desktop or laptop version of a site. However, Google has started its mobile-first indexing and this is seen as the first big shift in examining mobile content rather than desktop content when it comes to making decisions on how to rank results. From now on, Google will check the mobile version of a website when looking for rankings and if there are no mobile rankings available then it will fall back to the desktop version. Everybody knew this was around the corner and there were even whisperings of it during 2016 but it has only very recently been talked about on Googles own blogs. When this takes place, the links and content of a mobile site, along with all other factors such as, user experience and speed will be the key factors of search engine visibility. Desktop will still be very important but only as a secondary capacity as it will be mobile first. Mobile devices have been very important for a long time now, especially mobile phones and 2017 will be the year which will really highlight this. There are great opportunities to be found in this area for businesses that get their sites modified for mobile-first.
The Mobile Friendly Test
When businesses are developing their new websites it is really important to use the tools available for testing for mobile usability. There is also a mobile usability report which shows all problems on a page-by-page level. Optimizing a website to remove any of the issues listed below will have very positive effects on how Google grades the site based on usability. This will also have a very positive outcome for users which definitely makes it a win-win situation. Below is a list of mobile usability issues which Search Console looks at:
- Flash usage: Most mobile browsers will not use Flash so more modern technologies will need to be used.
- Viewpoint not configured: Browsers are helped by the viewport metatag in order to scale pages to suit specific devices.
- Fixed-width viewport: This problem tries to bypass mobile design with its fixed width pages.
- Content not sized to viewport: In this case the content of the page will not fit the window (this is a regular problem), which leaves the user having to scroll. This is an easy fix by using relative rather than fixed widths.
- Small font size: This can be fixed easily by pinching the screen to zoom.
- Touch elements too close to each other: This occurs a lot and is where it is too difficult to tap a particular element without also tapping the neighbouring element which sits too close.
Page Speed will be of Paramount Importance
Page speed has always been an extremely important factor. Who wants to hang around interminably waiting for a page to load, especially if it is important information that is required. A site that may load relatively quickly on a WiFi network will most likely be much slower on a mobile data network. Some areas can boast good network speeds but not all and many areas in the UK are still quite slow. In this case there are areas which can help with page speed. Thanks to Google they have once again come to the rescue with the PageSpeed tool. This wonderful tool will show exactly how fast a page loads and when it is too slow pointers will be supplied on what can be done to make improvements. Some of these may include; optimize all images, enable compression or minify CSS.