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Understanding the Need for Mobile-Friendly Websites

by Colling Media - April 09, 2015

Today’s marketers are well aware of just how much a single Google algorithm change can impact their website’s traffic. In fact, Google is known for adjusting their algorithm upwards of 500 times a year. However, these are mostly minor tweaks and adjustments, ones that most webmasters rarely notice. That wasn’t the case on April 21st of 2015 when Google made an algorithm change geared towards positioning mobile-friendly websites higher in search results. So, what does this algorithm change entail?

It’s become known as “Mobilegeddon” and it’s a change meant to push webmasters towards a more responsive website design, one where the website adjusts according to the user’s screen size. Ultimately, it means a website must be as easily viewed and navigated on a cell phone or mobile device as it is on a desktop or tablet. Here is a summary of the most important things to consider when making your website mobile-capable.

1. Proper-Sized Fonts and Images

Having a mobile-friendly website implies that users shouldn’t have to pinch, zoom or squeeze the screen in order to read its content or view its images. While Google has never made a definitive statement that pinching and zooming should never occur, it is still pushing forward with a change meant to reward those websites that allow mobile users to easily navigate the website using only their thumbs to scroll up and down.

Images should also be optimized for mobile screens in order to reduce download and parse times. This means ensuring that the images are easily viewed on four, five and seven-inch screens.

2. Eliminating Flash Media

Flash media and license media are not mobile-friendly and aren’t easily downloaded on mobile devices. As such, it’s best to move away from any license-restricting media and flash media to more recognized formats. After all, Google will still be tracking bounce rates as part of their metrics and video that takes too long to load, or takes up too much bandwidth, is not conducive to keeping users engaged.

3. Right-Sized Links and Proper Spacing

Again, the impetus is on having a mobile-friendly website that allows users to navigate the page only using their thumbs. This means that links must have proper spacing and that users can easily navigate from one page to the next. Links that are positioned too close together simply frustrate users and lead to high bounce rates as they abandon your website altogether. The best approach is to check the position and placement of links in relation to images, content and video so that users are never accidentally clicking on a link they are not interested in.

4. Broken Links, 404 Errors and Slow Page Load Times

Eliminating 404 errors and broken links is something most webmasters are used to doing as part of their regular website maintenance. However, it’s not inconceivable that a webpage will appear one way on a desktop and another way on a mobile device. Therefore, be sure to check any broken links and address any 404 errors. A possible solution involves creating separate mobile URLs and redirecting desktop URLs to the new location. Also, slow page load times must be addressed in order to minimize wait times.

5. Content Too Large and Wider than Screen, HTML Banners and Navigating Mobile Platforms

The ultimate measure of success is whether your content is wider than the screen. Therefore, make sure your content is front and center on mobile devices and that users don’t have to scroll left and right in order to read content. Another tip includes using reduced HTML banners in order to lower download times. Finally, make sure that users can easily navigate your website on a mobile device. A cumbersome and convoluted layout frustrates users and forces them to leave prematurely.

Understanding these changes is critical to protecting your performance and current traffic volumes. Mobile searches have quickly surpassed desktop searches so making your site mobile-friendly is a must.

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