Mobile Optimization is the New Normal
Unless you live under a rock, you know that your site has to be mobile optimized. This means…what? Well, it’s meant many things over the 8 years since the Apple iPhone exploded onto the technology scene and disrupted every business from Tom Tom Go to Sony Ericsson (remember them?).
As mobile use has increased, Google has been sending warning signals that your site had better be friendly to mobile visitors, and this spring, they took decisive action to ensure this is the case. They launched what many called “Mobilegeddon“, which separated desktop rankings from mobile ones. This raises the frightening, and all-too-real scenario that if your site is not mobile friendly (according to Google, which we’ll get into a little later), you will lose all those nice, shiny first page placement rankings that bring you so much business. This is for mobile only, and you won’t lose any rankings on desktop by not being mobile friendly.
Mobile Friendly? Maybe, Maybe Not
Google even set up a nice “mobile friendly testing page” so that you can enter your URL and see if you pass their test. Once your website passes this test, you’re all good, right? Wrong. What you might not know is that you can pass the Google mobile Friendly test, but your site could still severely fail the true test: Does it Get You More Customers?
Before I go any further, let’s get one thing clear: I’m not disparaging Google’s test or methodology. Their goal is to make sure that the content on your site is readily visible and accessible to visitors, and it does a good job of that. What it doesn’t do, and was never meant to do, is ensure that your content is actually INTERESTING to those visitors.
Here are the 5 things Google wants your mobile site to do well:
(this is from the Google Mobile Usability page)
- A defined viewing area (or viewport) that adjusts to the device’s screen size.
- Content that flows in the viewport, so that users don’t have to scroll horizontally or pinch the screen in order to see the entire page.
- Fonts that scale for easier reading on small screens.
- Easy-to-touch elements (e.g., buttons) that are well-spaced from other touch elements.
- Visual design and motion driven by mobile-friendly technology.
This is all indispensable to a properly functioning mobile site, and certainly, if you don’t have these elements in place, your site won’t do well on mobile. So why do you need more?
5 Mistakes of Mobile Destiny
Instead of trying to walk through all of that, I’d like to talk about 5 mistakes that will cause your mobile web presence to not convert well. The goal of every page on your site should be for the client to get to the most relevant information on the page as fast as possible, then move them to the next decision they need to make. These 5 issues will stop your mobile site dead in it’s tracks and wast your time and your visitor’s time:
- Images of Domination. In WordPress you can have a “Featured Image” on a page or a post. The problem is that i but it can default to too large on the mobile page. People won’t scroll past that image, your bounce rate will go up, and you lose sales
- Sliders of Death Sliders can be great, but on mobile they rarely work well. Any text on a slider image is too small when scaled down to mobile screen size, and the scroll buttons are generally too small to click with your finger.
- Sidebars of Disappointment. Including your sidebar in your mobile set up can be very detrimental, again because of size. Most WordPress themes will kick the sidebar by default in a mobile resizing, but you should check yours.
- Videos of Regret Video is almost always a good idea, but if you don’t optimize your YouTube embed, you could lose all that wonderful traffic you gained by being mobile “unfriendly”. Many small business owners don’t realize that YouTube actually gives you quite a bit of flexibility in how your video behaves when you embed it. The most important of these, after title and description, of course, is the “Suggested Videos” function. If you leave this turned on, then there are 9 or so videos that “suggest” at the end of YOUR video, which of course gives your visitor all of these other options to leave your beautiful site, which is bad, mmmkay?
- Buttons of Chagrin Size, again, is everything. If your buttons don’t resize correctly, they will appear far too large for the page. If they do resize correctly, then they may reduce the text on the button to too small to be useful. Buttons can be time consuming and relatively expensive, but they’re worth it. Remember, that’s what your prospect is going to engage with when they decide to buy from you, so that’s the last place you want any uncertainty.
Final Thoughts on being Mobile Friendly
There are always things you can correct, and this list is by no means exhaustive. Your needs will vary some with your demo, too (sell to folks over 45? Raise your font size. Big buttons), but these are pretty universal considerations for a properly functioning mobile site, and you’ll find that if you implement them, your content is going to convert much better.