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Understanding the Need for Mobile-Friendly Websites

by Brian Colling - April 09, 2015

Today’s marketers are well aware of just how much a single Google algorithm change can impact their website’s traffic. Google is known for adjusting its 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 more responsive website design, one where the website adjusts according to the user’s screen size. Ultimately, it means a website must be as quickly 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 a mobile-friendly website.

1. Proper-Sized Fonts and Images

Having a mobile-friendly website implies that users shouldn’t have to pinch, zoom, or squeeze the screen to read its content or view its images. While Google has never made a definitive statement that pinching and zooming should never occur. Google rewards those websites that allow mobile users to easily navigate the site using only their thumbs to scroll up and down.

Images should also be optimized for mobile screens to reduce download and parse times. Ensure images easily display 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. 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. Links must have proper spacing and that users can easily browse from one page to the next. Links 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 around images, content, and video, allowing users to select the appropriate link easily.

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

Eliminating 404 errors and broken links are 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. Address slow page load times 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 to read the content. Another tip includes using reduced HTML banners 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 mobile-friendly websites are a must.

You may also enjoy this article: Why Mobile Advertising is Booming

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