Mobile First- How to Master Google’s Changes
With nearly 60% of online traffic being on mobile, it’s no wonder that Google is prioritising mobile-optimised websites on its search pages. Unless Google finds your website mobile-friendly, other sites will be given preference over yours in first-page search engine results page (SERP) website rankings. Have you ever ventured onto the second page of Google search results? We haven’t either. Follow these guidelines and make sure your website passes Google’s ‘mobile-friendly’ test.
Simplifying Your Visitor’s Task
Your site is measured by how well your visitor can complete their objectives (making a booking, finding information etc). Try to reduce the amount of user interactions as much as possible and focus on displaying content in the most rational way. The smaller screen size can only handle one module of content on top of the other, and has to do this quickly and without looking messy. Your pages need to be scannable, so choose the most relevant and important pieces to be put in the most visible positions.
Google’s tip is to “outline the potential steps in your customers’ journey to make sure the steps are easy to complete on a mobile device.”
Responsive Web Design
Recommended by Google, responsive web design (or RWD) means that the page uses the same URL and code on every device, but the display will adjust to the device’s screen size. Without a responsive web design, mobile browsers will try (unsuccessfully) to make the content appear better by increasing font sizes or showing content that fits within the screen. All this will do is give your website an inconsistent, messy appearance and your user a poor UX as they may have to zoom in and out to interact or see the content. As a result, Google will not pass your page as mobile-friendly.
Responsive web design offers a standardised user experience across all platforms and decreases download time which is one of the most important factors for mobile user experience. You can use this tool from Google to test your mobile site.
The amount and the complexity of the content on your website plays a massive part on its loading speed. If you find that your website is taking longer than 3 seconds to load, it’s time for a clear-out! Unfortunately, this means the fancy hover menus, sliders and flash-based animations all need to go. For the images that you need, compress them to make sure they’re as light as they can possibly be. Websites such as TinyPNG are very useful if you wish to reduce the file size of your images, giving them a quicker loading time.
Furthermore, interactive maps embedded into your site are heavy and slow things down. If your map hasn’t loaded properly, your visitors will end up frustrated. Instead, just link a map button or a still image of a map directly to your hotel’s address on Google Maps, and even include directions in the URL if you like. This is a quick and simple solution, preventing slow site speed and the possibility of driving away your potential guest.
Some types of videos or content are not playable on mobile devices, such as those that require Flash or other players that are not broadly supported on mobile devices. As you are probably aware, unplayable content is frustrating, and makes for a poor UX.
How can you avoid this? Avoid hosting the videos on your own site. Post your videos on a third-party video hosting service like YouTube or Vimeo instead and embed them onto your site. By doing this, you will reduce site loading speed, prevent slow-loading and freezing, and simplify the whole process! If your video is on YouTube, you can also use it in video advertisements across Google if you wish. Find out more about how to use Bumper Ads for Hotels here. Keep your site light, fast and user-friendly by embedding videos.
If your site fails Google’s mobile-friendly test, you run the risk of ranking very low on Google Search Results and there may be a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search. But don’t worry, once you follow these guidelines and make your site mobile-friendly, Google will automatically re-crawl and re-index your pages. Here at Net Affinity, we build functional and beautiful websites that are mobile-responsive and are user experience focused. Get in contact today to find out more!