As search gains momentum on mobile devices, Google is taking steps to shift its focus to serving these platforms first and foremost. Google is already in the testing phase of an algorithm update that will favor the mobile version of a website over the desktop version.
Up until now emphasis has always been on desktop websites, but the time has come for businesses to make the mobile experience a top priority. Here are five things you can do right now to get your websites ready for what’s ahead.
- Size Tap Targets Appropriately
Screens are getting bigger on mobile devices, but they’ll never rival the size of a desktop. When tap targets (buttons, links, etc.) are too close together or too small it can cause a lot of frustration for mobile users. If it isn’t easy to click through or a user accidentally hits the wrong button it can have a significant impact on the overall experience.Google recommends that tap targets be 48 CSS pixels tall/wide in size. This is based off of the average size of an adult’s finger pad (10mm). There should also be at least 5mm of space between each tap target to avoid accidental tapping.
- Use Website Design That Puts Mobile Use First
With Google moving over to mobile first indexing, it’s a good idea to build websites with a mobile first mindset. Many of the elements will remain the same across mobile and desktop, but there are a few things that should be created with mobile use in mind. The easiest choice is to use a responsive design that adjusts to various platforms automatically. That way it will work for both the mobile version and desktop version of your website.
- Create High Quality Content
Content is still the king no matter how you search. Creating relevant content is always highly recommended since Google uses the words on the page and how users share content as top ranking factors. You can go one step further by creating mobile-friendly content that keeps the smaller screen size in mind.
- Make headlines short so that they fit on fewer lines.
- The text content should be succinct and simple so it’s easy to read without having to continuously scroll down the page.
- For mobile writing it’s even more critical to put the most important information up front before the fold.
- The paragraphs should be short and whenever possible use a bullet or numbered list.
- Font size is another consideration. Google’s standard font size recommendation for mobile devices is 16 pixels.
- Take Advantage of App Indexing
Firebase App Indexing allows the public content on your app to show up in Google search results. It will also display your app install button next to the homepage search result to prompt users to download the app if they haven’t already. The only thing you have to do is use the same HTTP/HTTPS URLs that are on your mobile website for your app. Use the App Indexing API on Android and you’ll get a few more ways to improve the ranking performance of app links.
- Decide If AMP is Best for Your Pages
The loading speed of web pages on mobile devices has always been a sticking point for users. If it takes more than a few seconds most users will abandon their attempt to visit a site. The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project aims to change that. The AMP format dramatically reduces page load time by using an open source HTML code that has restrictions to enhance performance but also extensions that allow for rich content beyond basic HTML. Many bigger publications have already adopted AMP to help speed up their mobile websites, but it’s available for anyone to use. The extra speed is great, but before making the switch decide if AMP is right for you based on its key features and your development budget.
Quick Tips for Website Building in 2017
When you’re building your next website or app follow these four essential steps:
- Build and design for mobile devices first and foremost.
- Organize your content to be accessible in a nice, clean mobile navigation.
- Test your site’s mobile accessibility in Google Search Console.
- Make sure all of your content is seamlessly transferred over to your desktop version and then submit your site to major search engines.
Mobile devices continuously exceed expectations in our on-the-go, constantly connected culture. Last year mobile devices overtook desktop computers, and there are no signs of the trend slowing down in 2017. Start planning now so you can stay ahead of the SEO curve and enhance the mobile experience for users.
Author Bio: Michael Ramirez is the Founder of SearchRPM, an Austin, TX based search marketing company that’s well-versed in Search Engine Optimization best practices. You can follow Michael Ramirez on Twitter @openmic0323 or on Google+ to see what he’s up to next.