Optimizing for Mobile SearchApr182017
As website owners, we need to alter our mindset from being “mobile compatible” to being mobile optimized”.
The process of Mobile Optimizing is making sure visitors accessing a site from their mobile devices and mobile platforms, experience both a visual and technical positive experience.
By all accounts, with Google being the kingfish of Search - as they historically hold the largest search-share market - we have to spend more time on making sure we “get it right” according to Google-specific criteria. Once that groundwork is seeded, the other search engine results will fall in place.
In 2013 Google announced it would be adjusting search rankings appearing on Smartphones and Mobile platforms based on how well a site managed the user experience.
In 2015 Google officially confirmed more Google searches took place on Mobile devices than on desktop computers and tablets in ten countries including the USA and Japan.
Google Guidelines for Mobile
Google guidelines explain they recognize three main techniques for ensuring a website processes adjustable view screens of all types and sizes:
#1 Responsive Web Design - serves up the same HTML code on the same URL across all user devices, based on the screen size. Responsive design is Google’s recommended design preference.
#2 Dynamic serving – utilizes the same URL on all devices but delivers a different HTML version to varied device types based on the user’s browser.
#3 Separate URLs – After device detection, transmits unique URLs with different code to each specific platform via redirection to appropriate pages, using HTTP redirects in conjunction with the HTTP header.
A Few Do’s and Don’ts for Responsive Websites
There was a time many Mobile devices were unable to support these components. Many website owners blocked all or some. The Smartphone GoogleBot crawler wants to be able to identify and classify the same content that users do, so it’s in your best interest not to hide these. These elements also assist Goggle to identify if you have a responsive website or a separate mobile option.
Don’t Use Flash
Some Mobile devices may not have Flash available or enabled on their phones, which translates to those users inability to scroll and enjoy your website to its fullest potential. It’s now recommended to use HTML5 for creating special effects, rather than traditional Flash.
Don’t Use Pop-Ups
Screen pop-ups on Mobile devices are problematic. They take up a lot of screen space and are difficult to close, which can lead to an elevated bounce rate – which is something you don’t want.
Do Pay Attention to Page Speed
The speed in which a webpage loads has been flagged as more of an important issue specific for Mobile users, rather than desktop computer users. If your pages have load speed issues you’ll want to tweak the browser caching, reduce redirects and actual site hard-coding.
Do Design for Chunky Fingers
Mobile devices depend on touch for screen navigation, so if your links are too close together or display too small or buttons are undersized, they’ll get in the way and cause navigation problems for those with larger finger pads, especially when clicking links or scrolling.
Do Optimize Meta Descriptions, Titles and URLs
Mobile screens have less visual space, so get to the point. Don’t use a ton of extra filler words when crafting your titles, descriptions and URLs. The longer they are, the less search engines results page will display.
Do Make Use of Schema.org Structured Data
Structured data is a method for search engines to read content from your site coding. Google and other search engines created a structured data standard called Schema.org. Search results with Rich Snippets more often than not stand out more on a Mobile device than on a desktop computer.
The big perk of structured data is that photos, videos and reviews/ratings can be displayed next to your content in search results. Google supports many types of rich snippets for businesses, products, reviews, people, recipes, events, music and more.
Rich Snippets draw from dedicated code, additional information at Schema.org http://schema.org/.
WordPress Free Plugin: WP Plugin Schema App Structured Data, https://wordpress.org/plugins/schema-app-structured-data-for-schemaorg/. Free Accounts may create and customize up to 50 data items for 10 webpages.
WordPress Free Plugin: Schema, https://wordpress.org/plugins/schema/
Paid version: https://www.schemaapp.com/
The Schema App is a more full featured paid app that allows you to create and manage all of your structured data in one place.
Mobile Friendly Website Test
Google will fetch your page and test for free. You’ll run your first page, then you can test additional pages to see what other mobility usability issues are detected.
Google’s Mobile usability tool common errors include:
Viewport not configured
Small font size
Touch elements (buttons, links) too close togetherReturn