It’s no secret that Google prioritizes mobile friendly sites over those that aren’t mobile friendly when listing search results.
Mobile isn’t just the way of the future. It’s the way of the now.
According to the latest report of Smart Insights, mobile accounts for 71%of total online time in the U.S. It’s not just mobile, but specifically smartphones we’re talking about. We just can’t live without them!
So if FOMO is taking control over your body because you have been a little slow in joining the mobile revolution, now might be just the right time to take action.
As mobile continues to dominate search, Google and the other search engines are going to place more and more emphasis on mobile. Basically: there’s no way back.
So start taking notes of these 5 tips to optimize your site for Google’s mobile-first index.
1. Implement Accelerated Mobile Pages [AMP] Markup
According to the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project, “The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere.”
What’s the translation? Something like: ‘when you search for a news search term, Google will show you a carousel that highlights stories on AMP-enabled websites.’
One of the main reasons why you need to use the AMP markup is that -and we can’t explain why- most webmasters haven’t even noticed how important this is. That might answer why millions of websites out there underestimate this markup, ignoring the fact that it can get you:
- Higher rankings (this one benefit makes it worth your interest)
- The ability to display/deliver more content in a single search result
- Inclusion in Google’s engine ranking pages
- Amplified content reach
Starting to understand the importance of AMP?
It comes down to forgetting the accessories and focusing strictly on the necessary components a web page must have.
It seems Google and other search providers are pushing developers to create simpler, more effective designs. Let’s hope they get the message.
So, before moving on to our next tip, let me share three components that will let you successfully implement AMP into your website:
- AMP HTML: A redesignated version of HTML that uses custom AMP-related commands to make the mobile content more dynamic.
- AMP CDN: A Google-hosted content delivery network with cached content.
When optimizing for AMP, you create a duplicate layer of your content optimized for mobile devices.
2. Never Underestimate Speed
Never-ever…that’s right. Just look at top ten results on Google for any keyword: you will see that all these websites load almost instantly. Our advice? Get rid of extra code and make your website nimble so it can load quickly.
As Maile Ohye states in Google’s Site Performance for Webmasters video (below), “two seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second.”
And it’s not all about what Google wants (ok, maybe it is). Users also expect websites to load fast. Many studies have established a close connection between slower load times and high bounce rate.
And it’s not about having the latest iPhone or if 5g just came out. Still, when you’re in a place that doesn’t have the best reception, it takes longer to load web pages, other sites and even web apps.
And think about it…If a site takes too long to load, what would you do? Simple: You’re gonna click the back button. And if everyone clicks the back button, that’s gonna tell Google: “Hey, we don't like this site”, for whatever reason.
You don't want to be in that situation, so make sure your site loads fast.
It’s a no brainer: by having your site being super fast it’s gonna create a better experience which will help you boost your overall search traffic.
But how can you make your website faster? We have a few ideas that might be helpful:
- Optimize Images: Make sure they’re always the right size. This is a great quick win.
- Minify code: Remove all unnecessary characters from your source code.
- Leverage browser caching: for it stores web page resource files on a local computer when a user visits a web page.
- Reduce directs: if you have too many, this can cause the site to have to reload and the experience to notably slow down.
3. Go for a Responsive Design
We should all agree on one thing: Mobile design is an art form in and of itself.
And, in case you feel a little lost around this topic, let’s explain it a little bit further.
Responsive web design, originally defined by Ethan Marcotte in A List Apart, is the answer to the needs of the users and all the different devices they're using. The layout changes based on the size and capabilities of the device.
For example, on a phone users would see content shown in a single column view; a tablet might show the same content in two columns.
But keep this in mind: creating a design for mobile and a separate design for desktop is more than a pain in the ass… and it’s absolutely unnecessary.
Do you really want to manage two different designs? Of course not.
Our recommendation is: go for one design that works for mobile devices, tablets, laptops, desktop computers and keep things simple.
The way you do that is, you have a responsive design. So, as the screen size shrinks, so does your design and it’s still easy to read.
4. Say Goodbye to your Beloved Pop Ups 🙁
It’s hard, I know… But let’s face it: on mobile devices it’s really irritating to have all these pop ups that take up the whole screen and you have to keep exiting out.
It’s much easier to exit out on desktop!
Your job is to make sure you’re not running a poor user experience, because this increases bounce rate, reduces time on site and that decreases overall rankings cuz its sending Google signals that hey this is a very poor user experience.
And as we already know, Google has been on a clear mission to deliver great user experience to web users for some years now. For this purpose, it’s pushing websites with pop ups down its search engine rankings.
Its latest search algorithm is designed in such a way that it demotes websites that have annoying and obstructing pop ups, whether it is the mobile version or the desktop version of your website.
So consider, maybe, Instead of using pop ups, placing CTAs in your page and using text hyperlinks with affiliate referrals for generating revenue.
There are many alternatives that can help you advertise your products/services and generate more revenue without being penalized by Google.
Bye bye pop ups. We’ll miss you.
5. Publish Mobile Friendly Content
Let’s do a simple empathy exercise: put yourself in the shoes of your user and look at your mobile website with that mindset. After all, a mobile device is completely different from a desktop.
With this in mind, you can arrange content on your site accordingly: place your CTA in the perfect hotspot for users, for instance. You can even conduct A/B testing until you achieve the perfect arrangement for your content.
This said, take another simple yet efficient tip to keep your content mobile friendly: make sure your header image is small. If your header is huge -mobile devices aren't that big of a screen- you will make people scroll and scroll until they can read your content.
It all comes down to making your content very readable, large, dark in color… so that people can read it very easily. This is crucial for a better user experience.
We marketers still have a lot to learn as Google continues to conduct their experiment with this mobile index. But by taking action now, you can help make the case for your site and improve your visibility in mobile search.