Earlier this year Google updated its algorithms to include not only mobile-friendliness as a factor in search results ranking, but also content from mobile apps. This means site owners need to familiarize themselves with the benefits of mobile optimization so they can get the most out of their Google rankings.
Why Optimizing for Mobile Is so Important
Studies show that people now spend more time on the Internet via their smartphones than desktop computers (52 percent versus 40 percent), which means it’s especially important to optimize your website or eCommerce site for mobile usage. According to HubSpot, 46% of people won’t return to a website if it doesn’t function properly on their mobile device. Neglecting to do so results in reduced traffic, lower customer engagement, and lost sales opportunities. Plus Google will actually demote your site in search results. In other words, Google is now actively putting mobile users first.
What does this mean for you? If you want to reach your audience, think about user experience. This means creating a responsive design, avoiding using Flash (which is not supported by all mobile devices), and fast page loading. You can analyze your site’s speed with Google PageSpeed Insights (Bluehost received a 95% score for user experience).
Design Shack’s Joshua Johnson lays out some excellent tips on creating a fluid layout that gives mobile users what they need (i.e. small device compatibility). If you’re comfortable with CSS, Johnson walks you through change column width settings that automatically adjust based on the viewer’s device. If you’re not sure how to get started, you can find help with options like Golden Grid System and Fluid 960 Grid System that do the heavy lifting for you.
Google Rationale and Readiness
Google didn’t just randomly decide to make it more difficult for small business owners to rank high in search results. Due to the fact that more than half of digital consumption in the US is accessed via mobile device, Google wants to make it easy for the mobile crowd to access the content they need and want.
And since Google writes the rules, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can from their “rule book” experts.
Step One. This Getting Started Guide to building mobile-friendly sites answers all your questions about device compatibility, responsive design, working with website developers, and mobile SEO strategies.
Step Two. This Mobile-Friendly Test allows you to see how well your website is optimized. Simply paste your URL into the textbox and wait for the analyzer to scan your page. You’ll see what Google sees and have a better idea of how your pages show up in search results (i.e. whether you rank higher than other small business websites).
Here’s a screenshot of what happens when you type in Bluehost.com:
Step Three. Learn everything you can about APP indexing.
App Indexing & Search Ranking
It isn’t enough to ensure your pages automatically reduce to the size of the viewing screen your visitors are using to see your website. The new algorithm also factors in app content and design. Since Google doesn’t automatically index your app content, you’ll need to spend time “manually activating” it for indexing.
App Indexing is something that webmasters do to connect your app content to pages from your website, which allows smartphone users to access your app directly from the mobile search results on Google. The reason that App Indexing is vital to moving your web content higher up the ranking ladder is because Google’s search algorithm takes into account both your app content (if it’s indexed) and your web content, which of course increases your exposure.
You can learn about the process with this detailed App Indexing guide, compliments of Google. There’s even a forum for newbies and those who just need a bit of advice tweaking their activation process. Just type your questions in the query box to view past Q&As or create a new topic.
Investing just a little time into optimizing your site for mobile-friendliness can help you move up the rank ladder and set your site up for better chances of success.