Mobile-Friendliness Will Impact Search Rankings

Mobile First Index Explained

Over 8 years ago, Google realised the trend towards people using their mobile phones more to perform online searches than their desktop computers, and have been frequently changing its search ranking algorithm to cater to mobile-friendly websites. 2 years ago, they decided to shake things up further by giving preference to mobile-friendly websites.

If your website is not mobile-friendly, this will be the biggest reason why you are not ranking well on Google. The simple truth is this – Ranking preference is now being given to websites which provide a good experience for visitors using mobile devices. Not providing a mobile-friendly experience is not only going to turn off your visitors, but will be impacting the performance of your website on search results. With ranking performance dropping through the floor, less visitors will click on your website in search results, and very quickly your daily visitor numbers will drop.

Mobile First Index Explained

If you have been confused by, or never heard of mobile-first index, let’s delve deep into what it really means. Mobile-first indexing is the way Google reads the mobile version of a website to index and rank its content in search results. Before mobile-first index, all that really mattered was whether a website was relevant to the query of a user. That has now changed towards Google focusing on the mobile version to understand relevance to the query of a user.

For example, a business without a mobile-friendly website can still rank for its desktop site. However, a website with a mobile-friendly website will rank better on both mobile search results and desktop search results.

Is my site mobile-friendly?

If you’re unsure whether your website is mobile-friendly, here are a few pointers that you can check your site against.

  • Does your website come with a user-experience which is optimised for all devices and size of browser window?
  • Can your website load resources irrespective of the device used by a visitor?
  • Can all content be seen by visitors when accessed from mobiles?
  • Does the website load quickly to match the expectations of a mobile user?

If the answer is YES to all these, you’re likely to be on track with a mobile friendly website.

How to make mobile first improvements to a website which will positively impact ranking performance

It is now more important than ever to create a mobile friendly website if you want to have a good rank on search engines like Google. If your website isn’t mobile friendly you are definitely missing out and it could be an easy way to improve your search engine ranking. Here are 4 good tips to improve ranking performance:

Tip 1- The size of website font and call-to action buttons are essential

On a mobile phone the screen is much smaller than a desktop or tablet device. If the font on your website is too small visitors will have to zoom in. For the body content, 14px is recommended as this is the optimal size that visitors can read your content easily. The call-to-action buttons should also be as big as possible because it will maximise user experience on their smartphone and subsequently increase conversions. Google will be scanning your site for both of these simple elements, and not complying will compromise ranking performance.

Tip 2 – Have just one version of the website

If you are looking to improve your search engine ranking, having a mobile version and a desktop version of the website is not a good idea. Google penalises website for duplicated content, even if it is created by the same person and there are no copyright infringements.

Tip 3 – Optimise images without losing resolution

It is very tempting to reduce the quality of images to enable faster load times for visitors, particularly if they access your website from mobile devices. But poor quality, pixelated images will compromise the credibility of your site, unlike higher resolution images which will guarantee that your viewers are experiencing a higher standard. For all your images, make sure they start out as high resolution images and optimise them correctly so that they still appear good quality, but where the file sizes are greatly reduced. This means that you’re presenting fast-loading images which will positively impact page speed which pleases Google, and you’re giving a good experience to visitors.

Tip 4 – Always test your website

Testing every page on the website is essential to avoid errors which will compromise user experience and your ranking performance on search results. An easy mistake to make is to test a new page on your website for desktop and then publish it. The page needs to be tested on tablet and mobile phones before publishing. Using device simulators like BrowserStack to test a website on different devices and different browsers is a great way of overcoming errors, and ensuring good user experience for all visitors to your website.

Talk with one of our SEO experts about mobile friendly websites and learn how a cohesive approach to website design and SEO can help you outperform your competitors on search results.

By John Anderson, SEO Results

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