In case you haven’t noticed, there is a boom in mobile device usage. The smart phone in particular is rapidly becoming the device of choice for internet browsers. This fact is of vital importance if you run a website or a blog: which is a specialized type of web site. Here’s why your site needs to be mobile friendly.
Mobile devices display a web page differently than a desk top or laptop browser does. In most cases it just isn’t practical to scale a web side down so it fits on a smart phone screen: everything would be so small the user could barely see it much less be able to tap on links accurately, especially in a list of links. Scrolling side-to-site and up-and-down to view the page content as through a keyhole is maddeningly frustrating. So mobile devices simplify your pages and present a lay-out optimized for the devices screen size.
The bad news is traditional web site coding does not have the capability to allow mobile devices to rearrange your page to suit the viewing device. The good news is, you may not have to build a new web site. Before we get into how, let’s talk about why you should.
Why Make It Mobile Friendly
According to Statista.com, the percentage of organic search engine visits made from a mobile device has risen from 27% in the 3rd quarter of 2013 to 48% in the 3rd quarter of 2016.
Nearly half of the search engine queries made by people in the USA are made from mobile devices. This is especially important given that Google announced that starting April 21, 2015, Google Search expanded its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change affects mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in Google Search results. This means that if a web user searches from a mobile device, Google filters out or diminishes the ranking for sites that are not mobile friendly. Can you afford to lose half of your new traffic?
Test Your Site for Mobile Friendly
Another piece of good news is that you may not have to do anything at all. If you are using a recently created template for your web site or blog, it is probably already coded to be mobile friendly. To test it go to: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ submit your site’s URL and this utility will return your test results.
The results page also lists any problems it encountered; such as blocked content, and offers links to solutions if your site fails the test.
Making Your Site Mobile Friendly
The easiest way to make a web site or blog mobile friendly is to update to a template that is coded to accommodate mobile devices. If you are using WordPress, this is simple and painless because all your content is easily pulled into the new template – although there may be differences in the way that content is displayed.
If you are using a custom template or have a hand-coded site you don’t have to despair, there is a fix that will most likely work for you too.
To make a WP template mobile friendly go into the template editor, find the template for the main page-header and add this line to meta-data section:
<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0″>
Type it in exactly as shown or copy and paste the above. Then save the template and re-test your site. It should now test as mobile friendly.
If messing about in the code makes you squeamish, there are plug-ins available for WordPress that will fix this for you.
This quick fix does not work on HTML files, but may work with XHTML and CSS based pages. You will, however, need to add the line of code to the header section of each page you want to be mobile friendly.
Next, you may need to tweak your content. The following points have been considered good design for a long time, but need extra attention for mobile friendly sites.
- Create smart navigation: Do not bury links to important pages as text links in your content but use highly visible devices like tabs or icons to draw attention and be easily tapped.
- Write clear content: Grab reader attention instantly with compelling headlines and clear content.
- Don’t use too many images: Analytics show that including a lot of images in a particular article results in less traffic reading it on mobile devices. Limit yourself to one or two images whenever possible.
- Practice good design: Be mindful of the white space around paragraphs and words: don’t let the page become cramped. Break up long blocks of text. Cluttered, visually busy sites are hard enough to read on a large screen. Don’t ask mobile readers to put up with it!
Once you’ve made your site mobile friendly, you should see an increase in visitors coming in from search engines – and previous mobile visitors returning to your site. Make it easy to enjoy your content and they’ll come back again and again.