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The Growing Importance of Mobile Search

October 15, 2017 | Digital Marketing, Website Design

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It was nearly 10 years ago that Mary Meeker, an analyst at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, predicted that mobile Internet usage would exceed fixed usage by 2014. While that bold prediction turned heads back in 2008, Meeker clearly recognized a growing trend that was overlooked by some other industry experts at the time.

Today, no credible industry insider can deny the growing importance of mobile search. In November, 2016, StatCounter reported that mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, were responsible for 51.3 percent of Internet usage around the world in the preceding month. This marked the first time that mobile Internet usage exceeded desktop usage across the globe. Mobile devices exceeding desktops in Internet usage didn’t come as a surprise to anyone since Google had already reported that mobile devices were used to conduct more searches than any other device category back in 2015.

With mobile Internet usage exceeding fixed access to the web, mobile search is increasingly important given the increase in traffic. It’s also important because search engines like Google favor websites that are mobile-friendly in their search results.

Even with mobile Internet usage and searches exceeding desktop Internet access and searches, many companies still build their websites for computers and then try to retrofit them for mobile devices. If that sounds like how you built your website, you may want to revisit your site to make some minor revisions or perform a complete overhaul.

Your goal should be to have a website that’s mobile-focused. Using mobile optimization, you can establish a strategic advantage over your competitors, delight your visitors and increase conversions. Just as importantly, you can improve how your website ranks in search results.

What Is Mobile Optimization?

Before you can optimize your website for mobile devices, it’s necessary to understand what mobile optimization is. In a nutshell, mobile optimization is a process that ensures people who visit your website are delighted by an experience that’s designed for the mobile device they’re using.

To optimize your website for mobile, you’ll need to examine certain aspects of your site. You’ll need to take a close look at your website’s design, structure, SEO and page speed, among other factors, for instance.

How Mobile-Friendliness is Determined

Google looks at certain features when it determines how mobile-friendly or mobile optimized a website is and how it will subsequently rank in searches. Fortunately, Google has made several tools available for you to test how mobile-friendly your website is, including its Mobile-Friendly Test. Search Console is also available.

When determining how mobile-friendly a website is, Search Console looks at the following characteristics:

  • Flash Usage: A flash plugin isn’t available on all mobile phones. So, you should use more modern technology or HTML5 on your website instead.
  • Unconfigured Viewports: A viewport metatag helps browsers to rescale a webpage for a specific mobile device. Unconfigured viewports can hurt the mobile-friendliness of your website.
  • Fixed-Width Viewports: Google encourages the use of responsive design when it comes to creating mobile-friendly websites. With this in mind, you should make it a point to ditch fixed-width webpages in favor of relative-width pages when you’re creating a new website or reworking your existing site.
  • Improperly Sized Content: This occurs when a page’s content doesn’t fit the screen on a mobile device, which forces a visitor to scroll to read the page. You can prevent this from happening by incorporating relative-width pages into your web design.
  • Small Fonts: Using fonts that are too small to be read easily on a mobile device can detract from your website’s mobile-friendliness because they require visitors to pinch the screen on their smartphones or tablets to read content.
  • Touch Elements: When touch elements are too close together on a mobile website, it’s often difficult for users to click one without tapping another one inadvertently. It’s important for your touch elements to not be too big or too small to prevent users from accidentally navigating to one page when they really wanted to view a different page. You should also avoid putting your touch elements in locations where they might be tapped as people scroll through a page. In other words, design your mobile web pages with fat fingers in mind.
  • Pop-Ups: While pop ups can be annoying for desktop users, they can be even more frustrating for mobile users, especially when the pop-ups are full-screen. Because these images can be more difficult to close on a mobile device than they are on a computer, they can have a significant negative effect on a user’s experience when they visit your website. Pop-ups can lead to a higher bounce rate, which can influence where your site ends up in search results…and we don’t mean in a good way.

The Importance of Page Speed

When it comes to mobile optimization, the importance of page speed cannot be overstated. With many mobile users turning to their smartphones for immediate information, it’s vital that the pages on your website load quickly. This is even more important if your business has a local aspect.

While a given page may load quickly on a WiFi network, it may take much longer when someone’s away from home and using their mobile data network so it’s important to plan for a range of contingencies when it comes to page speed. Google has made it possible for you to test the speed of the pages on your website with its PageSpeed tool, which is conveniently built into the company’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Optimize for Local Searches

With approximately 60 percent of American adults using a tablet or smartphone to get information about products or services that are available locally, it’s critical that you optimize your mobile-friendly website for local searches. There are several things you can do to pull this off, but it’s generally advisable to start with standardizing your company’s name, address and phone number wherever your business is listed on the Internet.

While that’s a smart place to start, you should also contact GoingClear. As a full-service digital marketing agency, we can optimize your website for local searches and mobile devices for you. We can also create compelling content that will keep your visitors coming back again and again. Believe it or not, we can do even more to optimize your website and increase your conversions and bottom line. Contact GoingClear Interactive to learn about all of our digital marketing services now.

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