Google’s Gary Illyes announced recently that a new ranking factor will be added to their mobile search algorithm on April 21, 2015. According to him, this will be businesses’ last chance to implement a mobile-friendly website that delivers a smooth, eloquent browsing experience to users, and subsequently gain more exposure, establish a solid reputation, and increase brand awareness. While this addition is expected to help brands drive more traffic and easily grab their target audience’s attention, Illyes informed that these companies will have to keep an eye on a couple of important factors prior to implementing a mobile responsive website.
KEEP READING TO DISCOVER THE TOP 5 POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN UPGRADING TO A MOBILE RESPONSIVE DESIGN
1. Create an Intuitive User Interface with Enhanced Navigability
While having mobile optimisation will indeed help your website rank higher, this will not necessarily help deliver a satisfactory user experience unless you also provide an intuitive user interface that has easy navigation. If navigation is not easy and intuitive, users will not be wasting their time trying to figure out how to use your website. With the “back” button just one click away, they will likely reconsider their choice of company and perhaps go to one of your competitors’ website.
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As such, brands must acknowledge the importance of implementing a user experience (UX) design, which helps visitors understand, use, and stick around your website for longer. There are several levels of UX you must consider when implementing a mobile responsive design for your website, and some of the basics include:
Logical navigation architecture with a hierarchy that makes sense
Shallow navigation, with no silos where users can get lost built within the website
Location of buttons, dropdown menus and other elements in logical places where a typical user might find them
Language that makes sense to your audience, without corporate terminology, uncommon industry jargon or vocabulary that is too complex
2. Ensure That the Mobile Version of Your Website Is Active & Functional
Most brands use responsive designs to optimise their websites for mobile devices as well, but remember that you can also choose to have a different version of your website intended for mobile users only. This version should be hosted on a server that delivers excellent uptime performance and fast loading speed, providing good CPU and RAM to ensure a smooth navigation. As long as user experience is not interrupted throughout, Google will not have a preference towards mobile responsive designs instead of hosted mobile versions.
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Choose a hosting package that has enough resources for the mobile version of your website to load and function properly. Consider switching to a dedicated server to increase loading speed and ensure that your website will be active and functional all the time. Shared servers host several websites at a time, which will immensely impact the performance of your mobile website.
3. Ensure That Google’s Spiders Can Crawl & Index Your Mobile Website
One of the most important aspects to think of when implementing a mobile friendly website is whether Google’s spiders can crawl and index pages. Your website must be visible so Google can see, crawl, and index it, otherwise it may as well not even be there. The most effective way to ensure that your mobile website is visible to Google is submitting a mobile sitemap to Google using Google Webmaster Tools. If you are using a mobile-responsive design, and you have already submitted a regular sitemap to Google using the Webmaster Tools, then submitting a mobile specific version may not be necessary.
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Google informs that some mobile websites might refuse access to anything but mobile phones, which will make it impossible for Googlebot to actually crawl and index them. To make sure that your mobile website is crawled, you must allow any User-agent including Googlebot-Mobile to access it. Keep in mind that Google might change its User-agent information at any time, so you should regularly verify Googlebot using DNS lookup.
4. Create Short-Form Content for Short Attention Spans
With digital marketing trends changing dramatically in 2015, brands must think of creating short-form content users can easily consume and interact with. Short-form content reduces competition, and also makes information easier to access and understand to your target audience. At the same time, short-form content tends to be more well-thought and intense, and can deal with mobile users’ short attention spans much better.
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For this tactic to be efficient, you may want to consider developing a mobile version of your website instead of using a responsive design. At this point, recreating content will be necessary, but you can now shorten articles and focus on the key points instead of writing whole paragraphs – which is still recommended for regular websites due to Google’s consideration towards lengthy content.
5. Make Site Search Visible
According to Google’s “Principles of Mobile Site Design,” one of the most important aspects for mobile friendly website implementation is making site search visible. Users looking for specific information usually turn to search, so the search option should be the first they see on your website. Placing it near the top of your home page via an open text field is the best way to ensure that the search box will be highly visible from the first moment they access your website.
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Furthermore, Google recommends adding search filters to increase search usability and make results more relevant to users’ queries. If possible, adding relevant search suggestions can improve overall user experience significantly.
Understanding how Google indexes mobile websites is probably the most important steps to ensuring that you will be delivering a consistent experience that helps drive traffic and increase conversions. When implementing an effective mobile website, taking note of the points above will give you an advantage over your competitors, and will allow you to also gain more exposure due to your website being more visible to Google. Once user experience improves, Google will definitely rank your website higher, which will boost conversions and get you more sales rapidly. You may consider hiring a professional SEO company or web design firm to help you get your mobile website out to your audience, as this will likely save you time and help you get results much faster.
Joe Ryan is the Founder & CEO of UK online marketing agency, Digital Search Group, which specialises in smart internet marketing. He is a specialist in online marketing strategy and brand building. When he’s not considering the next best online marketing strategy with his team, he enjoys travel and spending time with his family.