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Why Developing For Mobile Is Now A MUST

By Kieran Brown

The rise of the mobile has been coming for a long time, and with figures from late 2016, it’s already in full swing with mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) accounting for more web traffic than desktops. So why’s this important?

Well, if developing your website to be mobile friendly hasn't been one of your main priorities, now more than ever, it is time to make the change. It’s no longer optional, I’d even go as far as to say it’s crucial.

What’S Changed?

A few big changes were seen late 2016, with Google releasing updates to their algorithm that targeted annoying pop-ups, it gained a better understanding of the content on pages and the main focus - mobile first indexing.

That being said, what effect does this have on a website today? As the name suggests, Google have recognised the shift in people wanting to view websites on-the-go whilst on their mobile devices. This shift means that Google want to make sure those people are getting the most relevant and most enjoyable experiences when clicking through search results.

Therefore, Google is most likely going to favour a site that is mobile friendly and provides a great user experience to those viewing on mobile devices. So, if you’re in the bracket of site owners that still believe putting time and money into a mobile ready website isn’t time well spent, it's time to rethink.

What Are The Main Considerations For A Mobile Site?

It’s all good saying “You need a mobile friendly website, why haven’t you got one?!”, but that’s not useful to anybody. Therefore, I’ll go through the key considerations for making a website that’s bit more attractive to users and ultimately Google as well.

Responsive Design

Responsive design is an approach in which a website is made to react and respond to the users behaviour, based on device and orientation. It basically means having a design that responds to the variable widths of different devices. Rather than different elements of the page disappearing due to it not fitting on the page or it not looking right on a mobile, responsive design means that it will look good on any device. It also means that a bit of thought has taken place with regards to creating the design with mobile first in mind, as opposed to desktop.

Is Responsive Enough Anymore?

We’ve just discussed responsive design but the question now is - is responsive design enough in this day and age? The answer to that is most definitely no. Not on it’s own anyway. As anyone that knows even the slightest about SEO (search engine optimisation), there are a multitude of ever-changing factors that Google take into consideration to position websites in its SERPs (search engine results pages). A brief insight into the different factors that are at play today include:

The Old But Gold Factors

- Technical SEO (on-page seo) - This is the on-page stuff such as meta descriptions, title tags, optimising file sizes and the hierarchy of html tags such as H1, H2 etc. I go through this in more detail in ‘The Basics of Good SEO’.

- Backlinks - Again, another ranking factor that seems to have stood the test of time. The actual percentage that backlinks go towards authority (and ultimately ranking) will never be known but it’s still an important part of the overall score. However, spammy links (usually coming from paid link websites or link share schemes) are something to keep your eye on and most likely avoid. Google is always updating their algorithm to spot the bad links and punish those that partake in this practice. The best advice is to always choose a link source carefully (such as a directory) if at all but ultimately produce quality content that makes people want to link back to your website. Easier said than done I know, but there are lots of great resources available to help create quality content such as the SEO gurus over at Moz. Here’s a great resource about creating quality content that’s just asking to be linked to.

- Content/keywords & relevance - I thought I’d package these together as they fall under the same bracket. Without quality, relevant content that serves the users need, a web page is most likely not going to succeed in the SERPs. As discussed in the last point, focus on creating quality content often and you’ll have a much better chance at getting your brand out there, helping people along the way with tips and advice which may result in a backlink to your website. Everyone’s a winner!

The Newer Factors

- Social media signals – The best way to illustrate this is to Google a brand. Did you notice how many social media accounts are linked to that brand located on the first page with their website? Using social media is a great way to engage with users that may not always want to go to a website. Snapchat is a great example of this, with brands engaging customers with creative snaps and videos which help with the brand image. You get to see unique insights into the inner workings of a business which you may not have seen otherwise.

- User experience (UX) – By this I mean how a user interacts and sees a website. A website that’s said to have a good UX is one that is clicked (maybe from Google) and that isn’t clicked away from straight away, back to Google to find another site. Its also said that it will delight the user, with for example, easy to use navigation so you aren’t searching high and low for a link or even a great colour palette that’s easy on the eye so’s not to distract you from the main job at hand – providing quality, relevant content.

- Video content - More and more users are digesting video content than ever before, which points towards online video becoming the future of content marketing. When you think about it, sometimes you just don’t feel like putting in the effort to read (well, at least that’s me anyway), but when the options there, video content makes digesting information so much easier.

- Page speed - This one is a biggy these days. Users are wanting more and more information at the drop of a hat, wherever they are. The latter part of that is probably most important as not ‘everywhere’ has the sort of internet connection you may be used to at home. To quote the ‘test your site with google’ webpage, ‘70% of mobile network connections globally will occur at 3G or slower speeds through 2020’ and therefore their test is carried out on a standard 3G connection.

Screenshot of Testing Your Website Speed for Mobile

Conclusion

Developing for mobile is such a vitally important task if you haven’t already thought or started to think about it. The shift towards mobile, as opposed to desktop, has already been upon us for some time and the gap between the two will only increase. People want answers and information anywhere in the quickest possible way. Mobile devices are all about that and more hence the reason for Google and the other search engines placing so much emphasis on a mobile first index. If you haven’t got a mobile site, I hope I’ve convinced you otherwise and provided a few handy tips along the way.

If you want to know more about SEO, take a look at the ‘read on’ section below for other useful resources.

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