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A Guide to the Best Mobile Optimisation Practices

11 May 2021
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A Guide to the Best Mobile Optimisation Practices

Mobile optimisation is the process of making technical tweaks and changes to your website to ensure that visitors on smartphones and tablets have a great user experience.

While desktop was once the primary outlet for content consumption and e-commerce transactions across the web, the rise of smartphones during the last decade has transformed usage patterns and behaviour. In February 2021, 55% of all global traffic came from mobile devices, compared to 42% from desktop.

It is also the primary frontier for search engines, with new research from Semrush showing that mobile devices accounted for 66% of all site visits in 2020, as overall search traffic soared by 22% year over year. That is due in part to rising smartphone usage, which has climbed to three hours and 23 minutes per day in the UK.

If that is not already reason enough to take mobile optimisation seriously, Google recently switched over to a mobile-first index and in June is planning to roll out a Page Experience Update for search that will use mobile-friendliness as an important signal in its algorithm.

In its own guidance for why mobile is important, Google says sites that are mobile-friendly feature more prominently in search results and that a failure in this regard could be disastrous for retaining visitors who are five times more likely to leave.

When you are creating new content and optimising your site, mobile should be your top priority, not an afterthought. Fortunately, you can get up to speed by implementing an SEO strategy that is grounded in mobile-centric tactics. This will help you to deliver an excellent user experience and increase your chances of ranking higher in search engines.

How do I know whether my site is mobile-friendly?

You can find out quickly if a page on your website is optimised for mobile by running Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. All you need to do is enter the URL and the tool will quickly analyse the page and determine whether it is easy to use on mobile. Any issues will also be flagged at the top of the page.

There are different elements within a web page that can add up to ensure a site is well optimised. But generally, Google looks at several core elements. The site should:

  • Have fast loading times and be able to surface content assets on a page quickly.
  • Be simple to navigate on smaller screens and feature text that is readable without zooming.
  • Be intuitive in terms of making it easy for users to take action, such as searching for a product and completing a purchase.

How do I optimise my site for mobile?

Improve load times

As faster load times are so crucial to a great mobile experience, this is the best place to start. Google’s on hand here again with its mobile speed test, a tool that will tell you the loading time, ‘est. visitor loss’ due to the current speed, and other detailed information that includes an industry comparison.

Actually improving load times for mobile requires technical optimisation. Even small changes can have a big impact here and shave off precious seconds. You should try to:

  • Implement browser caching to improve how files are stored and downloaded when a user visits a page.
  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to reduce your bandwidth and better manage how content is loaded.
  • Resize and compress larger images.
  • Minify CSS, HTML and JavaScript code.
  • Reduce redirects.

Use the right site design

Installing a clean and responsive design for mobile is crucial and fortunately, it is a simple process across most website management systems, including WordPress. After installing a new theme, test it across a different set of devices to make sure that all of your content is rendered properly and that it works as intended.

If your site utilises any aspects of Flash, you need to rectify that and replace it with HTML5 as soon as possible. Adobe officially recommend uninstalling Flash if your system hasn’t done so automatically, so remove it if you have not already. Using the right mix of online marketing services will also help you to balance design and the quality of copy writing to provide valuable content to users on mobile.

Enable AMP

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) initiative is designed specifically to improve the experience of pages on mobile. By partnering with an agency that specialises in digital marketing to craft engaging content and then using AMP markup in your code and site structure, you can improve your pages’ loading times and appearance. It basically strips down everything to only the necessary components for mobile users.

To implement AMP, you first need to create an AMP page template, then test a couple of pages to track key metrics, such as traffic, to make sure it is worthwhile before going ahead with a wider site rollout. Google’s Gary Illyes says AMP is not always required if a page is already responsive and fast but if you are struggling with that gold standard, this is the way to go.

Do I need to consider the Google Page Experience Update?

This summer, Google is planning to roll out a new Page Experience Update that puts the user experience at the heart of search. Google is planning to measure these signals to determine the quality of experience when someone interacts with your web page. This will then have an impact on visibility and rankings.

All of the signals are directly related to website optimisation, so you will effectively be preparing yourself for that new update by making the right changes now. The Core Web Vitals, for example, which cover loading, interactivity and visual stability, are tied into the best practices covered earlier.

Google says “mobile friendly” will also be a search signal alongside HTTPS, safe browsing and no intrusive interstitials. That means you should be removing annoying pop-ups and generally doing everything you can to deliver a safe and secure experience on mobile.

Optimising your site for these devices will be beneficial in so many ways, from improving your SEO and increasing your chances of featuring in rich results to just generally making it easier for someone to get from A to B when they visit your site on a smartphone. All of these levers will drive traffic and increase your sales and success.

If you need to make changes to your site to improve your performance in search, attract more visitors and deliver a better user experience, contact us today to discuss the services we provide and how we can help.

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