A recent study commissioned by Google and carried out by researchers at Nielsen found that consumers spend more than 15 hours per week searching using a mobile device. It was further found that smartphone users tend to begin researching products via a search engine, rather than by going directly to any site and of those that carry out research using a mobile device, a whopping 93% go on to make a purchase.
It’s clear to the vast majority of people now that mobile devices are becoming the primary way to access the internet, so I won’t bore you with the same old figures that can be found all over the web. However, I will say that for any company looking to redevelop its website, it’s vital mobile is high on the list of priorities.
1. Mobile First
Many designers and developers are now choosing to work using the ‘mobile first’ approach. This means that it’s necessary to plan out the site and its content with mobile and responsive design at the forefront of the mind.
Of course, it’s not vital to have a responsive site, it is possible to have both a mobile site and/or app, along with a desktop site. The question is, why would you want to? Especially since we’re quickly moving away from desktops and PC sales continue to plummet worldwide.
2. Responsive Web Design
One of the reasons that it’s necessary to think mobile first is that if you choose to go down the recommended route of having a responsive site, then it’s necessary to think about how content is going to be delivered.
Responsive is improving all the time, but one of the early problems found with the technology was loading times, especially with regard to mobile. This was because many sites were built for the desktop model and whilst a mobile device may not load everything on-screen, a lot of the time the full desktop content was being loaded in the background.
This of course led to slow load times, which in turn affect your bottom line, which is revenue. If a site doesn’t load quickly (within 30 seconds) then the visitor will leave and a sale will be lost. Google recommends that responsive design is used for mobile/cross-platform sites, which in itself is good enough reason to adopt it. Dynamic serving can take care of the potential speed issues and a good developer will be able to carry this out.
3. Maximizing Mobile Potential
This means that it’s essential to ensure your site is well-built and fast, otherwise everything else is just a waste of time. However, moving on, we’re going to be looking at the SEO aspect to mobile and how best sites can be optimised to perform well.
When planning a site, usability should come very high up on the list of things to get right. If you’ve ever spent any time on a mobile jabbing at impossible-to-click buttons as they’re so tiny, or pinching and scrolling your way around, you will know how irritating it is. Mobile should be planned out firmly with the user in mind and this means:
- A great user interface
- Buttons/clickable areas that can be comfortably clicked with a thumb
- Strong call-to-action at the top of pages
- Limited forms and input fields
The more you give a mobile user to do, the less likely they are to buy due to sheer frustration.
Common issues that are found with mobile websites also include:
- Faulty redirects
- Smartphone 404s
- Cross linking
4. Mobile Landing Pages
These should be different to a desktop landing page and preferably be quite minimalistic. As mentioned, a strong CTA should appear towards the top of the page. This could be (and often is) a ‘call us’ button, so that anyone searching for your business locally can call whilst they are out and about to see if you have what they need.
When thinking keywords, think Hummingbird. Google’s biggest algorithm change was designed to work with search on a more conversational level and as smartphones use voice search, this is something that’s increasingly important.
(Image: John Tayaban)
What this means is that, rather than using a couple of keywords or two-word phrases to optimise for SEO, it’s a good idea to use more natural phrases, such as: ‘where’s the nearest cinema’. Think about how people actually speak and if in doubt, say it out load, it’s often surprising how unnatural things sounds when you say them, rather than just write them.
It’s also useful to think about using contractions such as:
- Where’s instead of where is
- Can’t rather than cannot
- Don’t, not do not
5. Location, location, location
If your business is one that relies on local people, then it’s more important than ever to ensure that you use local SEO. Register with Google Places, ensure that you get reviews and that your business uses local web directories – see here for advice on how to optimise for local SEO.
6. Analytics and Testing
It’s important to note at this point that going mobile first doesn’t mean that you should neglect the desktop site. It’s got to the time when we need to approach the web and how we market and design for it holistically, taking every scenario into account.
This means lots of testing before your site goes live. You can use A/B testing, which means that you test two different designs on two separate groups to gauge how effective each design is. These can be very similar but should use different CTAs and layouts in order to find out what aspects of each design users like the most.
In Google Analytics, you can track mobile and therefore understand how your visitors are using the site differently as when they do on a desktop. What content do they access on mobile, for example? What kind of device are they accessing the information on?
To really pin down how mobile users are accessing and using your site, you can also create a new goal in Analytics to measure this. Goals will depend on what kind of site/business you have. If you’ve an ecommerce site, then it’s going to be easier to set up conversions in theory than if you’re a service led company that doesn’t sell specific products all at one price.
You can still set them up to measure your CTAs though, it’s just a case of telling Google what you want to measure. For example, you could set up a goal and conversion for each time someone clicks the ‘call us’ button to see how effective it is.
Mobile isn’t to be ignored and those that do so will lose out. There’s plenty of opportunity to be had if you’re developing a new site, especially when you consider that only 28% of businesses worldwide have responsive sites.
This means that the business that gets it right and creates a seamless mobile-desktop experience for the user will beat the competition hands down.