Why it’s just as important as ever.

Mobile users are taking search by storm.

In 2017, mobile searchers had exceeded desktop users, coming in at 57% of searches worldwide. In 2019, Google announced all sites are officially being indexed through their mobile versions (see: Mobile First Indexing). This means if you have taken optimization short cuts, like having major content and visual differences between your mobile and desktop site versions, change needs to happen. And fast.

In SEO (and digital as a whole), there are endless ways we can ensure a site has the best user experience in mind for mobile devices. These are the baseline best practices everyone should be implementing:

  • Mobile Speed: Google claims a majority of users bounce from a site that takes 3+ seconds to load, Unbounce reports users will wait a whopping 1 second longer than that coming in at a wait time of 4 seconds before bouncing. Are you making the cut?
  • Responsive Design: Is your site’s functionality working as it should on mobile? Is your site built to adapt to a user’s screen size? If these are new questions to you… let’s talk.
  • Continuity: Across all devices, every user should have the same experience and receive the same information being provided on the desktop version of a site.

Mobile Speed Optimizations

Site speed is a major factor in a user’s experience. If your site has a higher than average bounce rate, speed is one of the first metrics to check. Through tools like PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, and UpTrends you can analyze your current mobile and desktop speeds (yes, they will differ) and determine a plan of attack in fixing the speed of your site.

Pro tip: SEO’s will (… or should) always use a multi-tool analysis strategy as you’ll find each tool will report differently. From multiple tools’ results, you’ll need to evaluate low-hanging fruit and higher priority fixes uniquely needed for your site.

The Difference Between Mobile and Desktop

It can be hard to fathom any sort of gap between desktop and mobile speed… it’s not unheard of to see scores as low as 34/100 on mobile while still accomplishing 90/100 on desktop. What this shows is while the site was being built, it was not built with a mobile-first outlook.

The users on mobile are more likely to be using personal data or networks with generally slower speeds. It’s important to build a site with mobile in mind so users’ devices don’t have to work as hard to load pages on your site.

What’s the Goal?

It’s difficult to perfectly hit a mark within Google’s scoring metrics (remember, it’s hard to get accurate reads from every tool, hence the multi-tool approach), but your goals should look something like this:

  • Loadspeed time ≤ 3 seconds
  • Google Score > 85 (high average to fast)

Google’s Speed Scoring Scale

Intuitive Design

Without knowing it, users use design intuition to decide whether your site is up to their standards. These unspoken ideals come from well-known sites consumers utilize often, particularly those with high-quality UX.

Responsive design is the idea of creating an adaptive site while in the build phase, and it is crucial in B2B web design. This means your site easily adapts to a user’s screen, is easy to use, and is universally friendly.

Principles of Intuitive Design:

  • Your design adapts to all screen sizes.
  • The user knows how to interact with your design.
  • Your design can be used easily by users with visual or hearing impairments.

Take the time to study your consumers’ interactions with your site as a means of evolving towards a more intuitive design.

mobile siteSite Adaptability

While designing your site, you should make it a best practice to ensure your design theme, individual pages, and all design elements (CTAs, callout boxes, etc.) adapt to any screen size. This is a defining element of a user’s experience. Make sure content fits and isn’t too small or too wide for any device.

Ease of Use

To understand your site’s usability, ask yourself if it’s easy to tell what the interactive elements are on each page, and if the action required is obvious to the user.

It’s important to have CTAs on a site, but they may go to waste if their design doesn’t help bring attention to them or help a user understand how (or why) to utilize them.

Universal Friendliness

Universal Friendliness is key to your site’s usability. Search Engines look to provide the best option in search results to satisfy a wide breadth of users, and in doing so they look for universal friendliness standards to be met.

But what does universal friendliness mean? It means you have a site that has:

Clear Navigation – Your site architecture guides the user, you utilize your header and footer to help the user navigate according to their needs.

Accommodations for those with Impairments – This includes image alt text, video transcriptions, and adaptable design to plugins used to help those with hearing or visual impairments.

Understandable Content –  We can all be tempted to assume that all industry jargon can be easily understood by our audience, but it’s important to ensure that your site’s content can be digested by newcomers and advanced audiences alike. (Clear headers and educational content can help.)

Minimal User Data Usage – While making your site mobile friendly, make sure your optimizing all media so that it will not use too much of a user’s personal data.

Website Continuity

This idea can be like nails on a chalkboard for any reader who has kept differences between the version of their mobile and desktop content, media, and design. Website continuity is now a top priority with mobile-first indexing. Any missing elements, content, or otherwise can cause trouble for your previous search rankings.

Functionality and Content

When you’re looking to optimize continuity between desktop and mobile, design functionality and content continuity are your priorities.

Design functionality refers to all “clickable” items (CTAs, links, swiping, etc.) and media (gifs, images, videos, etc.). The mobile version of your site should help the user to interact with your design in the same manner they can with the desktop version.

Content continuity refers to every paragraph, sentence, and phrase being the same on both desktop and mobile. If they’re not, there’s high risk for search ranking drops due to important pieces of content missing. In other words, the content that made a major difference in your target keyword support on a page needs to be the same no matter which device your user utilizes.

The Project Management Cycle

Now that we know the basics of mobile SEO, you might be asking “What Now?”

Within most digital realms, there’s a methodical way of working through and implementing strategy – the unending cycle of test, analyze, plan, implement, and repeat.

Test and Analyze

The first step to understanding what your unique site will need to be optimized will be to test and analyze the results. A thorough study of your site’s needs will always guide initiatives better than assuming that SEO is a one-size-fits-all approach (Pro tip: it’s not).

Devise a Plan and Implement

Once you’ve tested and evaluated your site’s needs, devise a plan that balances the low-hanging fruits for quick wins while attacking the more difficult tasks. Implement these at a decided (read: feasible) pace. Slow and steady wins the race in SEO: do things right, not quickly.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

In most digital areas after implementation, you should always find yourself back at the testing and analysis phase. This helps you to continuously track both success and failures so you can continuously determine the next best step.

Mobile Takeover: The Future

Mobile users are rapidly taking over the way content is consumed and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. Change your mindset and consider mobile-first ranking when it comes to your website: keep your site speedy, intuitive, and consistent on all devices. These days, the user is king and you need to keep close watch on average user interactions with your site to drive its performance. You should work to provide the best answers and information for your visitors on all devices. Mobile isn’t just the future, it’s the present, so make sure mobile comes first.

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