THROUGH THE MOBILE LOOKING GLASS

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With Google and Bing prioritizing mobile-friendly websites in searches, it’s time to stop playing around when it comes to your mobile presence.

If you’re looking to increase your online reach, the first step is to get mobile. That’s because of the proliferation of mobile devices and the ubiquity with which they access the Internet. If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your conventional website, I suggest you reconfigure so it can be accessed properly by mobile devices.


THE MOBILE TREND
Optical business websites with the intention of providing information about their products and services would do well to follow this trend. The preponderance of smartphones and tablets means that most Internet surfing is done on mobile devices. When compared to their non-adapted and decidedly clumsier desktop counterparts, mobile websites actually engage smartphone users, which is why mobile Internet users are now being encouraged to visit mobile sites over conventional websites.

In fact, Google recently updated its search algorithm to support mobile-friendly sites for smartphone or tablet requests (and BING quickly followed). This means that websites with awkwardly formatted text, images, and structure are now being filtered to appear later in search queries from a mobile device.

Ignoring this trend and failing to adapt your business’ website to the mobile platform is search engine suicide. So if you want your website to show up in Google search results, it must be mobile friendly. If it’s not, Google will drop you in the rankings for the mere fact that it isn’t compatible with mobile. Here’s what to look for.


FRIENDLY MOBILE
Just like it’s the little things in life that matter the most, the same holds true for mobile websites and the Internet. Basically, it’s all in the details. Some of the most common and basic implementation elements include:

• Providing enough space for a finger to press touch an icon

• Giving feedback when something is “clicked”

• Using buttons

• Making the site simple to navigate

• Using drop-down menus for ease of access

• Providing more data on a smaller page

• Having an easy way to return to the home page

Google has done a wonderful job preparing a guide discussing and illustrating what makes a website mobile friendly. It’s free and available here at: google.com/think/multiscreen/whitepaper-sitedesign.html.

If you’re unsure about the mobility of your website and how to check, ask a professional or use your smartphone to navigate your website and decide for yourself. Is it user friendly? Can you perform all of the functions that you intended on your website? If not, you should talk to a professional about getting it right.


UNFRIENDLY MOBILE

Large fonts, awkward spacing, and large or poorly centered images all contribute to a clunky and inefficient mobile experience. This causes visitors to engage poorly with the website, and subsequently, to leave quickly. Sites that aren’t optimized for the mobile platform may:

• Take too long to load

• Load incorrectly

• Glitch

• Be aesthetically displeasing

• Not fit on the screen properly

• Be difficult to navigate

Sites that contain rarely used fonts, large images, too many links, wide widths, and are difficult to navigate will all be received poorly on the mobile platform. As a general rule, the more a user is required to type, the less satisfied they will be.

Making your website mobile friendly is a necessity if you want to reach the increasing number of people who access information using smartphones, tablets, and other handheld mobile devices. Don’t be left behind on this one.


Brian House is the Founder of MySocialReach, a social media and search engine management technology firm specializing in the optical industry.


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