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Mobile ranking factors and why they’re important

Posted on 15th February, 2019 by Jodie Pennington

Search Engine Optimisation, Web Design

Since 2016 Google has been using the speed of mobile pages as part of its ranking algorithm and in 2018 they took this a step further with the introduction of mobile-first indexing. With over half of all search queries coming from mobile devices, it is clear that Google is focused on improving the quality of search results and user experience.

So what exactly are mobile ranking factors? And how can you improve them? Here are the 3 factors proven to improve your mobile load time.

Be responsive

People are five times more likely to leave a mobile site that isn’t mobile-friendly. This is why the new algorithm updates are designed to help customers get the information they want, in the quickest time.

It goes without saying, if the aim is to improve mobile load times then your key priority needs to be a mobile friendly design. Without this, in the coming months, you can expect to see a decrease in mobile traffic.

One of the most popular ways to make your website mobile friendly is with responsive web design, this is also the approach that Google recommends in their webmaster guidelines.

Avoid these web design mistakes

There are some common design mistakes that can be made when designing a mobile website. Understanding the pitfalls will help you avoid them to create a flawless site, that google and users love.

Mistake# 1 – Blocking JavaScript, CSS and Image Files

One of the keys to getting good rankings on mobile is making sure that Google can render your pages correctly. Having poorly setup robots.txt files can mean that Google is blocked from viewing valuable recourses such as images and javascript.

Mistake #2 Unplayable content

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to view content on your trusty iPhone to be hit with a “this content requires flash” error.

If you are including video or animation on your website use a format that is supported on all mobile devices. Typically flash is a no-no and other embedded media may only work with certain devices. We would recommend using HTML5 standards for animations and testing embeddable video on all devices.

Mistake #3 Faulty Redirects

Faulty redirects occur if your website is not properly optimised for mobile visits. If you are using separate URL’s for your mobile pages then you need to be sure to redirect mobile users to the right pages. One of the most common issues is redirecting mobile users to the homepage of your mobile page rather than the most relevant page.

Mistake #4 Letting your promotion steal the screen

Back in November 2015, Google announced that mobile sites with overbearing interstitials will not be considered mobile friendly – if you’ve viewed a page with an interstitial on you can understand the frustration of trying to pinch and zoom to find the exit or cancel button.

Fortunately, you can still shout about your new product or app without running the risk of being penalised by Google. For the best user experience these should be promoted using a simple native banner on the mobile site as shown in the two examples below:

Reduce your site load time to less than 3 seconds

Page speed is also one of the biggest factors that affect user experience, few of us are prepared to wait around more than 3 seconds for a slow website to load. And, a further 44% of visitors will develop a negative image of your company if the website has a slow load time.

Luckily finding out how fast your website is on mobile devices has just got a lot easier thanks to a new tool from Google. Scoring fair or less? There are a few simple steps you can take to improve your mobile speed score

Render blocking JavaScript and CSS – Eliminate all JavaScript and CSS requests for above the fold content. Simply put this means that you should use inline styles for above the fold content and where possible make JavaScript asynchronous.

Provide dedicated servers – The time it takes for your server to respond and process requests can have a big impact on mobile. Typically if you are on a shared hosting account the server response times will be longer than if you have dedicated hosting

Leverage browser caching – Browser caching lets people store a cache of elements of your web page locally, thus speeding up  load times.

Optimise images – This is a no-brainer for mobile, make sure your image sizes are small to help cut down on the time taken to download them. Try to keep image sizes below 100kb.

Prioritise visible content – Making sure above the fold content is prioritised means that the visible section of the page should load quickly. Other below the fold content should be loaded once the visible content has been rendered to help speed up your pages.

Now is the time to make sure your website’s page speed is not letting your business down.

Adopting these 3 best practices will help you to rank better with Google, and ultimately drive more traffic to your website.


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