Or Suffer The Consequences
Like a pub with no beer, a pie without sauce and fish minus the chips, millions of good websites are missing the mark with customers who demand one more key ingredient – easy viewing on a mobile device.
Late last year Google recognised this major frustration by introducing the “Mobile-friendly” moniker to search rankings, pushing sites that behaved better on small screens up the rankings. The carrot.
Now the search engine has warned errant webmasters about the dire consequences for mobile rankings if they don’t make their website mobile-friendly. The stick.
For the first time, Google last week sent mass notifications directly to webmasters highlighting how websites that fail to respond will slide down the mobile rankings.
If you’ve received a message like the one we’ve copied below, we advise you to act quickly to make your website mobile-friendly.
And, with web traffic from mobile devices expected soon to surpass desktop clicks, making websites mobile-friendly is one of the best investments a business can make.
In an unusual move, Google recently released the key factors it considers should be top priority for web designers with at least one eye on Smartphone users. It’s a far cry from the days when Google rewarded keyword-rich SEO tactics over quality design and content.
In an interview with Search Engine Land in October, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes confirmed the sole focus was to “improve the experience” for mobile users.
“Studies consistently reflect this. As an example, 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site that they had trouble accessing from their phone,” Illyes said.
“We’re putting more emphasis on UX (User Experience) because we simply want users to enjoy the web, regardless of what device they’re using or where they are.”
We’ve put together a list of top tips to help make your website Mobile-friendly and some links to key resources to help you avoid the ire of Google.
Tip 1: FLASH DOESN’T WORK!
Apologies for shouting. But try viewing websites that use this dated animation technology and you’ll quickly realise it either doesn’t work at all, or you have to install specific web browsers with add-ons to make it work. From an end user perspective, is it worth the fuss? The answer is a resounding no. Other technologies have emerged that do a better job, load faster and have fewer errors and bugs. It’s time to move on.
Tip 2: Configure Viewport
Adding a simple Viewport meta tag tells browsers how to adjust the dimensions and scaling to suit the size of the screen on which it is being displayed. For more information, Google Developers explain it in detail.
Tip 3: No Fixed-Width Viewport
A common mistake is to set the Viewport to suit common mobile screen sizes. With so many different models, shapes and sizes on the market, this is counter productive and likely to annoy a large percentage of website visitors. There is a simple fix.
Tip 4: Slow to Load
In most countries, mobile Internet speeds are slower than fixed line speeds. Complex pages using high resolution images that haven’t been compressed, or menus that take forever to load, get marked down by us. While this is not on Google’s list, it is one of our key indicators for what makes a website mobile-friendly.
Tip 5: Enough of the Horizontal Scrolling Already!
All website content should be scaled for viewing on all screen sizes. This includes images and text. Google has another valuable Viewport guide to help with this.
Tip 6: Give me a Magnifying Glass, Please!
If huge images, horizontal scrolling and buggy animations aren’t enough to drive you mad, microscopic text will have you reaching for the nearest packet of sedatives. Calm down! Help with this is on hand.
Tip 7: Button Up
People with slender, elegant fingers unite. If you’re viewing some websites on your Smartphone, you’ll need them. For those of us born with short, wide stumps on the end of our hands, is there anything worse than a website with buttons so close together that you tap them all at the same time and go nowhere fast? Mobile friendly sites feature buttons that are sized and spaced for people like me and there is yet more help on how to do this.
Tip 8: Popups Are Evil
They proliferate the Net and they beg for our attention. While popups are not exactly friendly at the best of times, they are downright distracting on a small screen and usually don’t load the way they are intended to. Simply avoid them to make life more rewarding for mobile visitors to your website.
- 7 Reasons Why You Need a Responsive Website
- Prepare Now For Google Mobile Search Shakeup
- User Behaviour and Psychology in Web Design
- Ten Ways to Make Your Website More Mobile Friendly
- How To Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly On A Budget
- Building Your Mobile-Friendly Site