With the majority of customer journeys moving online and across mobile devices, you must ask yourself two fundamental questions: Can users find my site on Google? And if they can, will their experience with my site be hassle-free? If over the past couple of months it has become increasingly hard to answer either of these positively, this article will help you take a close look at three not-so-visible errors hindering your site’s performance.
1. You’re not on the same page as Google.
In an effort for all websites to be as updated as possible with mobile search standards, Google postponed its mobile-first indexing deadline to March of this year. Mobile-first indexing is the preferred method for Google Search to display the content of your site. This change essentially means that the search engine will show your mobile version as a standard. Google will only show the desktop version as the default if you have a different desktop version indexed and the user searching is on a desktop device.
If you’ve worked to make your website mobile friendly over the years, the latter may not be a problem for indexing properly on Google. However, since this is an overall effort to move websites to accommodate a mobile search, there are still a few items to consider.
Here are 5 of the most important:
- Make sure you are using the same content and site map on both versions of your site.
- Make sure your content has the necessary structured data to rank on Google.
- Make sure your content metadata is up to date.
- Make sure that the server you are on can handle the boost from crawls of your mobile versions.
- Make sure that you are using the correct tags for canonical and alternate links, between the content on your desktop and mobile version.
2. Your content isn’t mobile responsive
Nowadays, if you are not creating content for a consistent experience across all devices, your site will not be considered mobile friendly. The ability for your website to be viewed by any and all of the different screen sizes is perhaps the most important criteria when it comes to Google rankings today. This is known as responsiveness, and over the years, we have worked with a number of clients in an effort to make their sites responsive.
A site made for mobile-first indexing should:
- Not need horizontal scrolling
- Have legible text – on any screen size
- Have clear “clickable buttons”
- Render the same content across all devices
- Render visible in any user device
- Have finger-touch friendly navigation
To achieve the above functionalities, a Responsive Web Design (RWD) is key. Having a straightforward implementation path across your site content not only makes it easy to develop, maintain and optimize content on your site – it also makes you more appealing to Google. However, there are some clients who want to keep their website the same as it has always been, so they may opt for Adaptive Web Design (AWD). This adapts the content of their page to render on screen sizes as best as possible. While this may mean that the client is not forced to redesign, change or optimize any of the content on their current site, they will find that the ever-changing mobile adaptations will still fall short of what search engines understand as mobile-friendly. In the long run, this approach could be more costly as it may be hard to find developers that get the implementation details your site needs just right, or it may take a long time for them to deliver a final product.
The biggest challenge when tackling this is that most clients design layouts and content for desktop, and then try to scale down to smaller view sizes without any form of optimization. Having countless CSS files to build your pages’ layouts, embedded iframes to render banners, or non-resizable images are just a few of the content mistakes that will prevent your website from ever looking good on mobile. Single-column layouts, div widths of 100%, text and images set in responsive units (i.e. em) are just a few optimizations that responsive design offers to make sure your site looks its best for Google.
3. Your site is too slow
Since 2018, Google has established mobile loading times as a ranking factor for sites on their search engine. Today, if your site is not within the 3-second mobile benchmark that has been established, you are doing something wrong (at least according to Google). If up to this point you have found less-than-convincing arguments to redesign your site to be mobile responsive, consider that the longer it takes for your site to load, the less likely Google is to give you a spot on its first page of search results.
To reduce loading times, you can take the following steps:
- Reducing the number of server requests
- Compressing your images
- Minifying core files (HTML, CSS, etc.)
- Using clean code
- Using the latest versions of codes (HTML5, CCS3, etc.)
- Reducing the number of web fonts
- Reducing the number of plugins
You may notice that a lot of what we’ve discussed so far falls back on the core content of your website and how you are currently displaying that content to users. The latter delves into what you use (plugins, fonts, scripts) to build your site as a key element to determine why your site may not be performing well on Google.
If you take the time to constantly evaluate your website, then ask yourself whether the time, money, and resources you spend on lead generation, traffic, and marketing for your brand have paid off without addressing any of these errors. For example, consider a web form you’ve set up to capture leads. If your site isn’t set up to render properly on any and all mobile devices, are you really aware of leads you may have lost because your form looked different (and most likely terrible) for some mobile users? Not being able to load the form, input contact information, or click on the CTA are just some of the main reasons users end their customer journey with sites before they even begin.
More than complying with Google, we believe that setting up your mobile site correctly is key for sites. From ranking higher, to optimizing performance and customer experiences, sites will undoubtedly work better when optimized for mobile from the ground up.
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