You should know by now that your website should be responsive and mobile-friendly.
After all, nearly half of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices, which means your site visitors are viewing your website on a variety of screen sizes.
And that means if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you risk hurting your site’s engagement and losing out on conversions.
But more importantly, you run the risk of negatively impacting your site’s search engine rankings.
When it comes to ranking and indexing your website in relevant search results, Google is now following what they call “mobile-first indexing.”
In other words, they look primarily at your site’s mobile version to rank it in search results instead of the old way, which prioritized your site’s desktop version.
The reason behind this change is user behavior. According to Google, most site visitors do Google searches on their mobile devices.
And, to ensure exceptional user experiences to everyone, mobile-first indexing is now the priority.
If optimizing your website for mobile-first indexing is on your to-do list, keep reading to learn some of the best tried and true tips for providing mobile users the best user experience while on your site.
1. Monitor Site Speed
If your website doesn’t load within 3 seconds, 40% of site visitors will abandon your site immediately, regardless of what you have to offer.
Site visitors demand that all websites load as quickly as possible and have zero delays. And Google expects that of all websites as well.
In fact, site speed and performance are one of the major rankings factors when it comes to SERPs.
And it just so happens that the faster your mobile site loads, the higher you’ll rank in search results too.
To monitor how fast your pages are loading, use a free online tool like Google PageSpeed Insights.
With it, you’ll find out how fast both your desktop and mobile sites are loading for site visitors. You’ll receive a speed score and even suggestions for optimizing your site for faster loading times.
Notice how Amazon receives a score of 100 when it comes to the desktop version of their website.
However, when it comes to the mobile version of the website, they only scores a 33.
While this may not seem like a big deal, keep in mind that even a 1-second delay in load time can cost an established business like Amazon millions in revenue each year.
You can increase the speed of your website by optimizing images, minifying code, leveraging browser caching, and even using a CDN.
Just make sure to routinely monitor how fast both versions of your site are loading to ensure your search rankings aren’t hurting because of poor speed and performance.
And don’t forget, if you use other channels to drive traffic to your site, you’re going to want to make sure your website loads as quickly as possible for those visitors.
For instance, if you create a YouTube channel and have a CTA button leading people back to your website to see more of what you have to offer, make sure your site loads within the 3-second mark.
Otherwise, all your hard work trying to capitalize on the second largest search engine will be wasted on people who abandon your site.
Despite only 9% of American small businesses marketing their brand on YouTube, don’t set yourself up for poor results because you didn’t monitor the speed of your site.
2. Check for Mobile-Friendliness
You might think you’ve followed all the steps for optimizing your site for mobile-first indexing.
But unless you actually check to see how your site is rendering on mobile devices, you can never be too sure.
Luckily, thanks to the free online tool Responsive Checker, you can see just how mobile-friendly your website really is.
With this tool, you can change device types (mobile phones, laptops, and even tablets) to see how your site displays for site visitors on different device types.
Adding to that, you can navigate through your site in real-time to make sure other webpages function right on mobile devices, as opposed to just your site’s homepage.
After all, getting people to explore your website not only increases pageviews and session durations, it lowers your site’s bounce rate and can boost conversion rates too.
Want a quicker way to check for mobile-friendliness?
Use Google’s own Mobile-Friendly Test and get a simple Yes/No answer.
3. Use Responsive Design
If you aren’t using responsive design on your website by now, you should be—or you won’t secure your search rankings.
In fact, optimizing your site using responsive design can be argued as the number-one way to rank well on the mobile-first index.
The neat thing about responsive design is that it allows your website to render well on all device types, including desktop computers.
This means no matter who is accessing your site, it will adjust to their screen and display the way you want it to.
Keep in mind, all responsive websites are by definition mobile-friendly. However, just because your site is mobile-friendly doesn’t mean it’s responsive.
That’s because responsive design changes according to the screen size the site is being displayed on.
On the other hand, mobile-friendly sites display the same way across all devices.
Here are some easy-to-follow best practices when it comes to optimizing your site’s design:
- Avoid using Flash, especially since Apple doesn’t allow people on their phones to view Flash elements.
- Get rid of popups, despite their importance when it comes to lead generation. If your mobile-site is overwhelmed with popups, or if they make it hard for people to navigate your site, they’ll cause people to bounce, hurting your search rankings.
- Use finger-friendly design since people on small devices will need to tap and click multiple buttons and links to navigate your website.
Influencing your site’s search rankings by investing a little bit of time into how you design your site (beyond just using responsive design in general) will have a profound effect on how well your site does.
And it’s worth it when you need to drive traffic, conversions, and sales to make money.
4. Local Optimization
Mobile search is huge for both digital businesses and brick-and-mortar shops.
With advancements in voice search functionality—and the fact that people on-the-go want to know where places are (and are turning to their mobile devices to find them)—businesses must optimize their site for local searches if they want to rank well.
If you’re a local business with a website looking to drive more foot traffic to your physical shop, here are some tips and tricks.
To start, use long-tail keywords in your content. People using voice search for local hotspots talk into their phone and use conversational phrases.
For help with this, check out Answer the Public.
After entering your seed keyword, this tool displays actual questions people are entering into Google search.
Next, include local SEO in your site’s content to help you rank in relevant search results and let people know they’re in the right spot once they arrive on your site.
This might include:
- Keywords to describe your location or neighborhood
- Phrases such as “near me” inside title tags, meta descriptions, internal links, and anchor text
- Landmark references
- Additional terms like “best,” “nearest,” and “store hours”
- Store hours, address, and phone number
The more you pinpoint your exact business on your website, the better your mobile-first indexing results will be.
From there, you can either convert customers while on your website or bring them in your store’s front doors.
Lastly, try to create such valuable content on your website that you earn the coveted “Position Zero” in Google’s search results.
To do this, try writing content that answers a pressing question your target audience is asking.
If someone else already has Position Zero, aim to create better content that Google will notice so you can replace that content with your own.
When it comes to optimizing your website for mobile-first indexing, it’s important you think about who your target audience is.
And if a portion of that audience happens to be locals, always include local elements on your site to rank better for people who are searching for what you have to offer on mobile devices.
As mobile-first indexing continues to evolve, website owners will continue to have a lot to learn about optimizing their sites to compete for the number-one rankings.
But if you start out with these four tips, you’ll be well on your way to beating out sites that have no clue about mobile-first indexing.
So, set aside some time to evaluate how your website is faring for mobile users and make some changes.
You’ll reap the rewards quickly and find that creating a mobile-friendly site that users love isn’t that hard to do.
Why Genesis is the Foundation of Any Smart WordPress Design: With a Genesis theme, making your site mobile-friendly is easy. And they have child themes that can give you the look and feel you want.