For the sake of a not-at-all biased, highly scientific experiment, I spent an entire day documenting the use of my mobile phone. Each time I reached for this portable device I would make a note of the time and my reason for doing so. I would disclose the full document here but as my boss reads my blogs, I’ve conveniently "lost" the said document…
I’d love to tell you that my experiment yielded something profound, something never before known but in reality my findings really were as underwhelming as you’d expect, in one day I spent 197 minutes on my phone, which may or may not have included a 73-minute call to my mum because well, I needed to know how long it took to boil an egg...
Now call me cynical, but Google announcing that it will prioritize mobile indexing over desktop indexing is like Cheryl Cole publically announcing that she is pregnant 8 months and three weeks into her pregnancy: unnecessary.
Google’s index currently prioritizes a desktop index, this means that when Google analyses a page to adjust it's ranking, it does so with the desktop version first. As the number of mobile users surpassed that of desktop users in 2014, it makes complete sense that Google is shifting its indexing from desktop to mobile. Though this task is monumental, and as of yet, no date has yet been set.
Google's new index will look at factors like:
- Size tap targets - This factor takes into account how close click options are placed together, i.e. CTA's, button's or form fields. If they are placed with little spacing or are too small, a mobile user may struggle to click on a desired button.
- Avoiding plugins - To avoid any confusion, we don't mean plugins associated with Wordpress but rather plugins like Java and Flash, as Google states "plugins are a leading cause of hangs, crashes, and security incidents in browsers."
- Configuring the viewport - A viewpoint controls which page a user sees depending on which device they are browsing from, if a viewpoint is not set, your visitor will see your desktop site on their mobile.
- Sizing content to viewport - When we create our pages for desktop browsing, our viewport has a far greater width, by sizing content to viewport, we avoid horizontal scrolling on mobile devices. (Allowing horizontal scrolling on a mobile device is a cardinal sin, one that will result in spontaneous combustion.)
- Using legible font sizes - Fairly straight forward.
We’ve known for a few years now that mobile browsing has outpaced that of desktop browsing, but what does this shift mean for your business? First things first, is your website mobile optimised? If it isn't, make sure that it is, and ASAP! With most users now browsing online via their mobile devices, having a website that is not optimised for mobile viewing is a little like trying to boil an egg without an egg. It won't work and people will look at you like you're crazy.
Not having a mobile optimised website is no longer an option. It’s now imperative as most users will browse via their mobile and tablet devices. This has now become so important that our magical developers create a website for the mobile user first, and for the desktop user second. Cross-device functionality is not just vital for your visitors, it is crucial as it can also impact your organic ranking. Fortunately for us, the awesome team at Google have created a tool to help us test our website's mobile-friendliness-ness.
Follow the link above, type in your web address and let Google do its magic. The site will analyse mobile friendliness, site speed for mobile browsing and site speed for desktop browsing. It will rank all three categories out of 100 and will even build you a free report.
Ok, so now we’re getting somewhere. Now you have solid advice given to you directly from the organisation that is making changes; advice that will undoubtably help your site improve! Download the full report from the site to get an in-depth view into where your site sits in the overall ranking.
What is the next step?
- If Google is indicating that your site is mobile responsive and the number highlighted is GREEN, you don’t have to change anything, by clicking ‘view the details’ you can assess why your website achieved its score.
- If your content and mark-up differ from desktop and mobile viewing you should begin the process of serving a structured mark-up for both desktop and mobile versions.
- Once you have completed your mobile version, use Google’s tool to test your robots.txt file, this will confirm that Google’s crawling bot (Googlebot) has sufficient access.
- Improve website speed time by limiting fancy CSS and compressing all site images.
When your site is oiled to the nines and is as smooth as an otter's belly you should be ready to roll, just remember, when editing and updating your the mobile version of your site, more often than not, less is more.