Google recently announced its mobile first index, which will prioritize mobile search over desktop search. If your website is not designed for a mobile experience, than we are here to help.
The Benefits of Mobile Design?
With the addition of Google’s new mobile index, larger PLA ads for mobile devices, and the inclusion of AMPs in organic results, going mobile has never been so beneficial for businesses. Mobile searches on Google are now outpacing desktop searches and for local businesses, conversions on mobile devices are becoming even more lucrative.
Back in 2012, a Compuware study showed that 57% of customers would not recommend a business with a bad mobile site.
Dominating mobile search means that your business has even greater SEO visibility on devices that display less results than a desktop search.
Call extensions and location services have made it easier for consumers to find and contact local businesses while they are traveling and right from their phones.
If your website is only designed for desktop search, it will still be indexed by Google and Bing is not even creating a mobile index as of yet. Unfortunately, Google will refresh and index the mobile index even more heavily than its desktop so that means your business can be missing out on valuable traffic. Here are some ways to optimize your website for the mobile experience.
Optimizing Site Architecture
One of the most important things to consider is whether your website has a responsive design, mobile specific content, or a dynamic design. For websites with mobile specific content it’s advisable to use redirects so that mobile specific content is indexed by Google for its mobile search. Inserting the m.www.domain.com sub domain will ensure that mobile specific content is indexed by the Googlebot. As a side note, if you don’t have a tablet specific webpage, serve it under the same URL as a desktop webpage.
Google traditionally prefers responsive design over dynamic design. Dynamic design separates content into mobile specific and desktop specific URLs and can be more expensive to maintain. Often, dynamic design runs into pitfalls, such as serving URLs to the wrong device and requiring a regular update list of user agents. This doesn’t mean that dynamic design won’t work, but it’s imperative that URL structures and redirects are set up so that mobile friendly sites only serve mobile users and so forth.
On the other hand, responsive design is fluid between between all devices, rendering site design according to each specific device. In Google’s new mobile index, sites with responsive design will be indexed for both desktop and mobile searches and having a responsive design will likely help rank your domain as a whole. Responsive design utilizes CSS3 queries that automatically adapts to each device and requires no duplicate URLs.
Businesses can also utilize site builders to convert existing webpages into mobile friendly webpages. The main thing to consider is how your on-page elements will be served on a mobile device when deciding how to convey your desktop webpages to mobile webpages.
Rich snippets become of even greater importance on the mobile platform due to a limited screen size. In terms of voice search and Google home, Google will answer voice questions with an answer in the form of snippets. Ensuring your meta-descriptions and meta-tiles are as precise and keyword specific as possible becomes of even greater importance in mobile search. Long meta-descriptions and titles will not show up as well on a mobile screen so it’s imperative to be as succinct as possible to create clicks for your business.
Rich snippets are also more responsive on mobile devices as your phone number and a link to your address on Google Maps will become your primary means of conversion. Providing accurate and detailed contact information in your snippets, such as your address, phone number, email, store hours, menu. Etc. will become your primary means of conversion. Considering that this is the primary means of conversion for local businesses, providing this information is increasingly important.
Utilize schema markup for mobile snippets as this will help your mobile websites be more easily indexed and rank higher.
Desktop websites and landing pages will have to be redesigned for mobile searches. Even if your website serves a responsive design, images, button sizes, and internal links may have to be redesigned to better accommodate the mobile experience. One of the major issues to consider is site speed.
Large images, Flash, and pop-ups may slow down site speeds as well as hamper user experience. Site speed is even more important on mobile search as a site with lagging load times will incur even heavier bounce rates as users don’t want to waste data trying to loading a single web application.
Design mobile websites for the fat finger and it’s advisable to design websites as a single page application. Too many links, long scrolls, and tiny buttons will frustrate users and cause bounce rates. Make your CTA clear and bold so that users can easily create conversions without having to jump through hoops to do this. Include sharing options for your content on Facebook and other social media sites as this will boost your brand’s visibility.
If your website uses Flash, some user devices may not support this and it’s advisable to use HTML5 instead. In terms of links, it’s advisable to create clickable links either in a sidebar or to create a more minimalistic design that serves to scroll or swipe to different webpages. In terms of external links, hiding anchor text in clear highlighted content will be a perfect means to create link building opportunities without hampering user experience.
Keywords may convert differently on mobile devices than desktop searches. Utilize your mobile analytics to discover which mobile keywords are working for your business and adjust mobile organic listings as such. Once you discover where a majority of your search volumes are emanating from you can also design your mobile webpages to give users what they want.
PWAs and AMPs
Finally, Google is so in love with mobile that they’ve created two unique webpage designs to accommodate mobile searches. Progressive Web Applications are a web based applications that are installable, linkable, and take advantage of browser features to create an app-like mobile webpage. While apps are a great way to drive conversions for your business and are much more responsive to mobile designs, they are not necessarily indexable. PWAs can help rank mobile based webpages and still serve as a means to create an app-like experience. Converting a webpage to a PWA means creating a shell architecture for your website that works in hand with server agents to create instantaneous load times and fast responsive design for further on-page elements.
Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages are coded webpages that redirect users to copies of existing webpages without taking them to the specified domains. AMPs load instantly and can be displayed in organic mobile results. Publishers have taken advantage of AMPs as they usually rank higher than most existing webpages and even have their own scrolling carousel at the top of SERPS. While AMPs may be viewed as distracting users from making meaningful conversions, you can still treat AMPs like all other content pages and simply insert clickable links to conversion pages.
While the transition from desktop to mobile may seem expensive, the benefits for local businesses exist. Mobile search is beginning to outpace desktop search and creating offline conversions can be even more lucrative through the use of a well designed mobile snippet and mobile webpage.