We talked to Binks to find out why mobile compatibility is so important when it comes to rankings and what you can do to comply.
TESTOMATO: What exactly is ‘Mobilegeddon’ and what kind of impact has it had on the visibility of websites?
SAM BINKS: Mobilegeddon was a huge update to Google’s ranking algorithm in April 2015 that put a big emphasis on websites being mobile friendly. Those pages that were friendly received what you could call ‘ranking boosts’, thereby pushing non-friendly sites down in the mobile search results. Essentially, it was Google telling the world ‘make your sites great for people on mobile, or kiss goodbye to your rankings and traffic’.
If you had to name the most important thing that determines whether a website is mobile friendly, what would you say that is?
I would have to say a website template that is 100% responsive. One that automatically adjusts for whatever device a user is on, be it desktop or mobile. There are some websites that have ‘mobile versions’, which is different to a responsive template, but they may not work well on devices like tablets.
Plus, if not configured correctly there’s a huge SEO impact of duplicate content. Keep it simple, get a template that’s responsive and then check it in the Google tool to see how it performs!
How important is overall page load speed for a mobile-friendly site?
Hugely important. In fact, having a slow page load speed can be catastrophic for websites these days. You want to shoot for under 1.5-2 seconds. Pretty much 50% of people leave a site if it hasn’t loaded in 3 seconds. Also remember not everyone has a 4G LTE connection!
What helps improve readability on mobile sites?
Remember that mobile screens are smaller than desktop, and users even have to contend with glare from the sun! You want to make everything stand out as much as possible. Keep things simple on mobile and your users will thank you for it.
T: Can you tell us a bit more about optimized metadata for mobile search?
Google is known to display fewer characters in mobile search results than the standard desktop (due to pixel width), so the key is to make sure your page titles and descriptions don’t get cut off because they are too long. Traditionally, the recommended page title length has been 55-60 characters and description 145-150 characters. Now though, keeping titles to <50 and descriptions to <135 will see you well. Keep experimenting.
Shorter forms for things like signups, purchases and other activity on mobile devices generally make for a better UX as many people find it difficult to type on mobile keyboards. I am definitely one of them! If you’re looking to capture data and get good conversion rates on mobile devices, take a few fields out, or split the process into multiple pages. Less typing = less frustration = more chance of converting!
Any other specific detail/point to help make a website more mobile friendly?
One thing I think many users should check is their CSS files to make sure there aren’t any huge images being loaded (which kick up page load speed considerably). I have seen that happen in the past and it can be a case of spending weeks hunting down a solution when it’s a two minute fix if you look in the right place!