Millions of users these days access the web using smartphones running on Android, iOS, or Windows. Hence, it has become imperative that websites adapt themselves to this changing environment and make suitable changes in their website design to attract more viewership. In this article, we will see how to make a website mobile friendly in order to ensure the visitors who access the website from mobile devices have an optimized experience.
What is Mobile SEO?
Mobile Search Engine Optimization is the process of designing a website to make it suitable for viewing on mobile devices of different screen sizes and load times. A website is mobile friendly if it has the following attributes:
- · Its contents are easy to read on a mobile device without having to zoom the screen.
- · It should be easy to navigate through the site on a small screen.
- · Most important of all, it should show up in Google search results.
- The ranking of a website depends heavily on how mobile friendliness it is.
Optimize Your Site for Mobile
If your site is already optimized for search engines, then it should not be too difficult to optimize it for mobile devices. First, let us understand what it takes to go mobile. We can categorize the steps into three broad categories:
- · Select a Mobile Configuration
- · Inform Google and other Search Engines
- · Avoid Common Mistakes
Select a Mobile Configuration
There are three different mobile configurations that you can choose from:
- · Responsive Web Design
- · Dynamic Serving
- · Separate URLs
Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Google recommends responsive design, however it supports all three configurations. The following table shows how the mobile configuration affects your URL and HTML code:
Responsive Web Design
Stays the same
Stays the same
Stays the same
Responsive Web Design
Google recommends responsive web design become it is the simplest mobile configuration and very easy to implement. It serves the same HTML code on the same URL, however it adjusts the display based on the screen size of the mobile device.
Dynamic serving is a type of mobile configuration where the URL of your website remains unchanged, but it serves different HTML content when accessed from a mobile device.
When your content is dynamically served from the server, make sure you inform Google that the content it is crawling may look different on mobile devices.
When you maintain two different URLs — one for mobile users and another for desktop users – make sure you inform Google explicitly when to serve which version. Google does not recommend separate URLs because it can detect automatically that your mobile pages are different from your desktop pages.
Inform Google and Other Search Engines
Make sure Google and other search engines understand your mobile configuration. Most important of all, Google must understand your page so that it can rank your website properly. How you inform Google depends on which mobile configuration — responsive web design, dynamic serving, or separate URLs — you have opted for. In case your site has a responsive design, Google’s algorithms can understand it automatically without you having to inform Google. When you have a responsive design, just make sure your viewport is set with the following content:
The viewport decides how your webpage will be displayed on a device. A site with responsive design varies its size based on the size of the device screen. Declare a viewport so that your webpage displays correctly on any device. If your site is dynamically served, make sure you allow Google detect your configuration using the VaryHTTP header:
In case you maintain separate URLs, you can inform Google by adding a special link rel=alternate tag that points to the corresponding mobile URL.
Avoid Common Mistakes
In order to optimize your website for mobile devices, make sure you avoid committing the following mistakes:
- · Slow Mobile Pages: Mobile networks are slower as compared to wired Internet networks, so it is important to pay attention to how fast your mobile pages load. It is a critical Google ranking factor. Use a mobile SEO tool to find out your mobile page speed.
- · Mobile Redirects : Since mobile networks are normally slow, too many redirects can hurt your page speed. If you are maintaining multiple URLs, make sure all your links point to the relevant pages. In case you maintain multiple URLs and you recognize a user is visiting a desktop page from a mobile device and you have an equivalent mobile page at a different URL, then redirect the user to that URL instead of displaying a 404 error.
- · Avoid plug-ins and pop-ups: Plug-ins like Flash and Java may not be available on user’s mobile device. Always ensure you don’t have any unplayable content on your mobile page. Avoid using pop-ups on mobile pages because it becomes quite clumsy to close these pop-ups on a mobile device.
- While creating a mobile page, always keep in mind that the user has limited space to work on. So, you need to be as concise as possible while creating titles, URLs, and meta- descriptions – of course without compromising the essence or quality of information.
Here is a list of some useful tools that you can use to find out how mobile friendly your site is:
- · Mobile Emulator: It lets you see how your site appears on a wide variety of mobile devices.
- · Moz Local: Use this tool to ensure that your local SEO is in order.
- · Responsive Web Design Testing Tool: Use this tool to see how your responsive site looks like on a variety of mobile devices with different standard screen sizes.
- · Screaming Frog: This is a useful tool that allows you to analyze your site and double-check all the redirects.
- · User Agent Switcher ─ This is a Firefox add-on that you can use to find out how your site looks like when accessed from a different user agent.