When it comes to using the internet, this year marks the first time that users on mobile phones have outstripped users on desktop computers. This means that more than ever, websites must be optimised for mobile browsers in order to offer users a greater browsing experience. For the majority of ecommerce businesses this is vital – their whole operation could be made-or-broken on the strength of their website. If a user can't access what they need, theyaren't going to be converted into a customer, are they? So you can see why it's important to create responsive websites in order to progress an online business.

The effects of Google's Mobilegeddon.

Seeing this mobile trend forming, on 1st April 2015, Google unleashed their 'mobilegeddon' algorithm that is designed to promote 'mobile-friendly' websites in their rankings, whilst leaving non-mobile-friendly websites at the bottom of the pile. With search engine marketing being one of the key aspects that attracts visitors to your website (not to mention Google being the most-popular search engine) – you can see what an impact that this code could potentially make to your ecommerce business if your website isn't mobile-friendly.

Here are some key facts about Mobilegeddon

  • The algorithm will only affect users who search on mobile phones – so searches done on tablets and desktop computers won't be affected by this change, as Google groups the pair together (which makes the mobile phone user statistics all the more impressive)
  • Google will only relegate websites that aren't searched for by name. If a user searches for your business by name, then your website will still show up near the top of the searches - even if you aren't a mobile-friendly website.
  • The app is updated in real time – meaning that if you have missed the cut-off-date of April 21st 2015 to make your website mobile-friendly - once you launch your mobile-friendly site, it will show up in the app as Google constantly updates itself, as it looks for new websites to display in its listings.

Mobile Web and Being Responsive

With the vast difference in technology between what a more-powerful desktop computer can do, compared to a mobile phone, browsing the internet will be a somewhat different experience. You are able to create a mobile website, but this will be a separate entity to your desktop version and will contain fewer elements – something which may put off many businesses. To combat this, there are ways to make your website responsive to mobile, without necessarily losing the 'essence' of your website. In fact, your business could be enhanced, as you are able to offer your services to a much wider audience.

Here we'll look at how you can make mobile websites responsive;

Succeeding with Mobile SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a cost-effective marketing technique that is able to give your ecommerce website a long-term presence in a search.

Here are the areas that you need to look at if you want to achieve successful SEO on mobiles;

  • Types of mobile websites . There are three different types of mobile websites – dynamic serving, parallel mobile and responsive websites. Making sure that you choose the right model from the start is probably the most crucial decision you can make, when it comes to the design of your mobile site. Let's have a more in-depth look at each one;

o Parallel. A parallel mobile website is a completely different version of your desktop website that has been created specifically for mobile phone users. Creating a parallel website will allow businesses to concentrate on offering mobile-specific content to their users (for example, mobile apps that they can instantly download and run etc). Whilst the amount of time and the cost invested may be high, if you want to run a website operation that appeals to all users, then this is a logical design to undertake.

o Dynamic. The nature of mobile browsers is that many are completely different and are able to display different elements in different ways to each other. A dynamic serving website allows a connecting server to display its pages in a way that the device dictates. This offers users a custom browsing experience – as they will all be on the same URL but it'll be the device that will take responsibility for how the website is displayed. You are able to incorporate different elements for different devices (for example, different content for different devices etc), not to mention the job of only maintaining one website. Then again, running a dynamic website requires an advanced knowledge of websites, in order to build and maintain, not to mention being expensive to run.

o Responsive. The technique of responsive web design allows the mobile website to display the exact same website as the desktop version (as it contains the same code) but the difference is that the mobile site will conform to the size of the screen of the device, rather than expanding into the same size as it would on a desktop (which explains why many websites viewed on mobiles, crash). Many businesses choose this method for the cost-effectiveness, speed of turnaround and because it'll prove easier to maintain – freeing up time for them to concentrate on something else. Google recommend this particular method.

  • Content . Engaging with users has a massive influence on your search rankings – regularly updating your website and driving users to view your updates, will always attract attention from the scouts sent out by search engines. The content that is created for mobiles must be optimised – not just the main body of what you are talking to your users about, but also the headlines, images/videos, forms and call-to-actions - all of these elements must be optimised.

    Optimising is crucial if you are using a responsive design – as we know, this design uses the same page for both your desktop and mobile websites, so if your content is correctly optimised – you'll get the double-hit of being ranked highly in each device's search. You should create your content with both the desktop and mobile experience in mind – but be sure that you are able to communicate effectively with the users across multiple platforms.

    Here are some tips on creating effective content;

o Write headlines that are short, but still convey your message that the main body of your content explains.

o Summarise the points that you are talking about in the opening paragraph – this will make the reader 'look forward' to an aspect of your content as they read on.

o Break up the main body of the content into small paragraphs to make it easier to read (especially for those who are browsing on mobiles)

o Use mobile-friendly images so no large pictures that will take a long time for a mobile browser to download and display. The same goes for the type of image file you use – for example a .jpg will be displayed a lot quicker than a .bmp version, because the size of the file is better compressed.

  • Mobile Speed . Aside from choosing the type of mobile site you need, it's also critical to make sure that it runs at optimum speed, to further give the user a good experience of using your website. Also, Google will measure a website's loading speed and factor it into their ranking decisions – slower speeds that have an impact on a user's experience, will result in the website being placed lower in the rankings .

    Here are a few tips on speeding up your mobile website ;

o Compress the website. Use a software application, such as Gzip, which is able to reduce the size of the countless CSS, HTML and JavaScript files that are present on your website. Simply – too many elements for the website to process, will slow the loading speed down.

o Reduce HTTP requests. If a server has to look through a massive pile of pages to find the right one, it will take some time. However, if there are just a handful of pages – it'll find the right page more quickly. Reducing the amount of HTTP requests will help to make your site run quicker on any browser, simply because it doesn't have to do a lot of searching to display the page that was requested by the user.

o Don't block external JavaScript and CSS before your page is rendered. This will cause a delay in rendering your page, slowing its loading time and probably testing the user's patience!

  • SERP Display . A position on a Search Engines' Results Page (SERP) always throws up difficult competition in order for you to be ranked on there – it's doubly-fierce when it comes to mobiles. Due to the aspect ratio of mobile devices, only the top two results will be displayed above the fold (the part of the page that is immediately displayed when it loads up – you will need to scroll down for the rest). Added to this, Google will often show maps, answers to queries or related apps either directly above, or below, the first result of a user's keyword search.

    A good way of capturing a user's attention is by optimising your SERP listings by using 'rich snippets' and 'rich cards' that will help you to present yourself more clearly in a packed search page as you attempt to capture a user's attention and gain clicks for your website.

o Rich Snippets are a description of your website that is displayed under the link and URL of your website. This gives you a great opportunity to express why the user should visit your website.

o Rich Cards are displayed above search results and contain information from a website about a specific query. For example if someone searched for 'how to stop wasps from entering my home' they will be presented with a number of rich cards explaining the steps, along with a link to the full page of the website it has taken the rich card from. This method is especially helpful if you offer any services that people will ask questions of.

As mentioned, pages that are marked with rich cards will be displayed at the top of SERP – this vastly increases the likelihood that the website will be visited by people who are interested in your content and would like to know more. According to Google, rich cards are only available for 3 types of content – articles, videos and recipes.

  • Local Search. If you also have a physical business, then you'll obviously want to be found by people who are interested in the services you offer. Local SEO is a method of optimizing your content, tailoring it users who are near your location – hence attracting them to your business. The added bonus with Local SEO is that even though the keywords that you wish to rank for are competitive, you are able to rank at the top of a local search much easily – even if you are nowhere near that rank on a normal search. Being on a local search will place you on Google Maps and since the search results for maps are listed above the normal search results (as well as having all your contact information readily available) this is actually a much-better position to be in, even if you are already ranked at the top!

    To take advantage of these types of listings, verify your businesses location on Google's My Business listing – and be sure that the name, address, contact information, even opening and closing times, are correct. This will be your main business listing on the internet – but you still should try to submit your website to as many online directories as you can. Be sure that your location is displayed in multiple areas on your website and create a rich contact page with an embedded Google Map – which will strengthen your position in a Google search. It always helps too, to encourage your customers to write reviews on your business – this is also displayed in the listing.

    If your business has more than one physical location, you can create separate sections on your website for each location. On each page, include the same Geo tags as mentioned, apply business-related rich snippets and be sure to optimize your content for keywords that are specific to that page's location.

If you stick to these tips, then you'll be well on your way into producing a quality, bespoke, responsive mobile website that will help your business to carve out a place on a search engines' listings.

Advansys – Experts in quality mobile responsive design.

We are proud to have a vast experience in offering ecommerce solutions that includes SEO as well as designing quality mobile and responsive websites for all types business. Extremely knowledgeable, our experts are here to advise you on how to get the maximum potential out of your website, which can only help to improve your business in the long term.

For more information on how we can help to improve your presence in a search engines rankings, please contact us on 0838 050 2700 or send us an e-mail at sales@advansys.com

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