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Common Mobile-Friendly Mistakes

It’s 2016 and mobile has surpassed desktop in terms of number of searches. When you add to it that 70% of mobile searches result in action being taken within an hour, it is easy to see why having a mobile-friendly website is key to success in the digital search engine optimization world. Even though we are passed mobile-geddon and the idea of having a smartphone-friendly site is nothing new, we sometimes forget that the industry is still in its infancy, and that even the best are still making mistakes that are hurting their bottom line. Here are some common mobile-friendly mistakes you have to avoid if you want to reap all of the benefits that mobile has to offer.

Blocked JavaScript, CSS, and Image Files

When a website is made, Google indexes it in its vast library of everything. The engine sends out crawlers that take the site’s info and relay it to Google so it can safely store it away. When a query is made, those same bots scurry about the vast library in search of the most relevant results. One common mistake is that javascript, CSS, and image files are blocked from view, making it difficult for the engine to render or rank your website. This will kill your SEO rankings in a heartbeat, but is easily fixable.

how to fix it: to fix this mistake, you can either:

  1. Use the fetch as Google feature in the Google search console. This will show you your site exactly as the engine sees it and help you identify and fix issues.

or

  1.     B)   Use the mobile-friendly test to see if you are compatible for mobile users. If so, fix it.

These are the two simplest and most straightforward solutions.

Unplayable content

Nothing is more frustrating as a user than finding what you are looking for, only to see that it isn’t playable on mobile. Mobile users are 5 times more likely to abandon the task they are doing if your site isn’t optimized for mobile, and having unplayable content is one of the worst things you can do for your user experience. Sometimes it’s because of licensing issues and other times it’s due to flash player. Either way, you are killing your UX and chasing users away.

how to fix it:

  • Use HTML5 standard for all animation.
  • Embed videos so that they are playable on all devices.
  • Make a transcript available so that those using assisted browsing technologies can have access.

Faulty Redirects

In Google’s quest to make web experiences more friendly to mobile users, they announced that faulty redirects would be punished. A faulty redirect is when a desktop url is not directed to a corresponding mobile page. For example, if a user types website.com on their smartphone, they will be directed to m.website.com, the mobile equivalent. If a user types in website.com/info but gets redicredted to the mobile homepage instead, then this redirect takes away from the user experience and is duely punished.

how to fix it:

  • The recommended method of fixing this issue is to use responsive web design. This will serve the same content for both mobile and desktop, and is the quickest, most convenient, and overall best way of solving this problem.
  • You could also set up your hosting so that it automatically redirects users
  • Last but not least, you could keep users on the desktop page if you don’t have the equivalent mobile page. Doing something is better than doing nothing.

Showing 404 errors to mobile users

If you page shows content to desktop users but not to mobile users, then when someone tries to access that desktop page from their mobile device, they will see a 404 error. This hurts for the obvious reason that it’s a dead end and enrages the user. You would be better off redirecting said user to the mobile url. Sounds obvious, but it’s more common than you might think.

how to fix it:

  • Use responsive web design when possible.
  • Set up your server so that it automatically redirects smartphone users to your mobile site.
  • Check your crawl errors report; the smartphone tab will show smartphone-only 404 errors.
  • If you are using Dynamic serving, correctly configure your user-agent detection.

Invasive interstitials

Imagine that you’ve found the site you’ve been looking for, are scrolling through the page, reading the content that you’ve been dying to see, only for a gigantic ad to appear, taking up all of the space and ruining your experience. Google has taken a stance against these invasive ads, and penalizes websites that use them. Whether it is used as advertising space, a pitch to sign up for a newsletter, or a push to download a native application, what they all have in common is that they are invasive, cumbersome, and annoying. They do far more harm than good.

alternatives:

  • Use banners instead! They are non-invasive and don’t enrage users like interstitials do. Both Safari and Chrome have browser supported banners.
  • Use small images as advertisements for your app instead of a large ad.
  • Android applications can implement app indexing, which allows for users to see an install button for the relevant application and go straight to that specific page.

Other User-Experience Mistakes

User experience(UX) is one of the driving factors behind mobile-friendliness. In fact, it may be the driving factor overall. Search engines wants users to enjoy being on your website, and for them to able to find exactly what they are looking for quickly with a clean responsive website design. Some of the biggest mistakes that we see from developers are:

  • Slow websites- loading time affects UX and your bottom line. Page abandonment increases exponentially with each passing second, and most abandon pages within 6-10 seconds overall. Speed your page up by getting better hosting, formatting images properly, decreasing the amount of videos, optimizing your content, and enabling caching. Don’t forget to take advantage of Google PageSpeed Insights, too!
  • Not enough white space- empty space is critical for UX. Having white space in between content blocks is essential to assuring readability. Spread the content out and be sure to keep the important stuff above the fold.
  • Buttons and links too close- human fingers weren’t meant to be used on touch screens. Alas, they will have to make do. If you put the buttons or links too close together, then users will undoubtedly smudge both with their cumbersome digits. Spread them out.
  • Font too small- this enrages users like no other. If they have to pinch the screen to read, then you might as well say goodbye now.
  • Incorrect viewport- since visitors are going to be using a vast array of devices to access your site, you need make sure that the viewport is set correctly so that the content is scaled based on the device. Google explains it all here.

There are expected to be over 6 billion smartphone users by the year 2020, mobile media time is now greater than desktop media time, and 80% of consumers use smartphones to shop. This means that the race to make websites mobile-friendly is in full swing. If yours isn’t, not only will Google penalize you in the rankings, but consumers will jump ship to someone who is. Avoid these common mobile-friendly mistakes if you want to rise to the top of Google.

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