Five Mobile Optimization Rules Every Webmaster Needs To Know

Mobile Optimization RulesIt’s official: as of April 21, 2015, “mobile friendliness” is now a ranking factor. What that means is that if your site is not optimized for mobile browsing, it won’t just leave you with a bunch of dissatisfied users. It’ll also leave you with a ranking penalty.

Even if it’s a small penalty, there’s no point in getting hit with it if it’s easily avoided.

That’s where we come in. Today, we’re going to discuss some of the major guidelines you should follow when translating your site to mobile. These are rules every webmaster should know; familiarize yourself with them and follow them as much as possible.

Let’s get started.

Page Speed Is Extremely Important

Google has used site speed as a ranking factor for some time now, but it’s even more important on mobile devices than it is on desktops. This is because mobile devices are subject to greater restrictions in terms of data, connectivity, and bandwidth. Not only that, people’s attention spans are now shorter than ever – 8 seconds, to be precise.

What that means is that if your mobile site takes too long to load, people are simply going to get fed up and navigate elsewhere.

You Don’t Need To Block Any Content – But Stay Away From Flash And Popups

Mobile devices are significantly more powerful than they used to be, and capable of displaying a bevy of rich media content ranging from CSS to Javascript to HTML5. While you should certainly take measures to ensure that rich media and code isn’t too extensive or complex on your site, you no longer need to block any of it.

However, there are some elements that make for a poor mobile experience.

Given that Flash no longer supports modern Android devices and famously isn’t supported on iOS, it’s something you should stay away from. You should also avoid using popup ads (though why you’d even have them on a desktop site is beyond me; they’re the most hated advertising format on the web).

Keep Things Brief

People browsing on mobile devices aren’t looking for a long, involved browsing experience. They’re looking down at their phone while they’re on the go. They’re on the Internet while sitting on the bus, waiting in line at the bank, on their break at work, waiting for the arrival of friends at a restaurant. The amount of time they have to devote to any given website is limited.

For that reason, if you’re going to design content for mobile devices, it needs to be brief and to the point.

Know That Google Prefers Responsive Design

Although there are several different ways you can design a mobile website (including coding an application for your users), the official word from Google is that it prefers responsive web design. With this method, the HTML code for the page remains the same regardless of what device is accessing it; how the page looks is changed through CSS rules.

There’s no evidence to suggest that you’ll be penalized for using a different approach, but there’s also no reason not to follow Google’s recommendation.

Local Search Is Huge On Mobile Devices

Searches made on mobile devices are 66% likelier to have local intent than those made on desktop devices. It’s thus important that you optimize your website for local search. That way, prospective customers will be better able to find you.

Closing Thoughts

The fact that Google now considers mobile friendliness a ranking factor hasn’t really changed much. It’s simply reinforced what most savvy webmasters already know. That is to say, it’s reinforced the fact that we’re living in an increasingly-mobile world, and anyone who alienates mobile users will inevitably miss out.

Image: Flickr/sam_churchill

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