Marketing / SEO

Mobile Friendly Websites: A Basic Survival Guide

Syed Balkhi, Ryan Eland & Twila Grissom

Updated: Jul 21, 2024 · 6 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

how to optimize a website for mobile

There are now more mobile devices in the world than humans. More than 7.2 billion mobile gadgets to be exact. Clearly, the future belongs to mobile devices.

Google understands this better than anyone and the company is now focusing on improving its search engine to provide a better experience to mobile users.

The mobile-friendly search algorithm, which Google rolled out in 2015, now punishes websites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices. Needless to say, if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you will never be able to rank in the top search results pages due to Google mobile friendly guidelines.

How can I tell if I get a lot of mobile search traffic?

Chances are relatively good that your website is getting its fair share of mobile traffic. You can determine this by following these steps:

Step 1: Go to Google Analytics for your website.

Don’t have Google Analytics installed? Click here to find out how to install it.

Step 2: Click on the button “Add Segment” then scroll down and select the box that says “organic traffic.”

You should see a second orange line indicating your organic traffic. You can select to remove “All Sessions” traffic by clicking the down arrow in the top right corner of this box.

Step 3: In the left menu under “audience,” click “mobile” then click “overview”

This will display the total amount of organic mobile search traffic to your website. This is the number that will see a reduction if your website is not mobile friendly.

How to set up a mobile-friendly website and optimize a website for mobile

There are about 200 factors that determine how a website ranks. Google gives different “weights” to these factors and changes these weights frequently. Here are a couple ways you can ensure you have a mobile-friendly website:

Use Google Mobile-Friendly Test

Visit Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool and conduct a test on your website. After the analysis, Google will tell you whether or not your website is mobile-friendly.

If your website needs improvement, Google will also offer suggestions and give advice on where and how to begin optimizing your website for mobile devices.

For a more advanced test, you can use a tool like mobiReady to get more detailed insights related to your website structure and learn many ways to improve it for mobile screens. This tool will even give you advice on how to quickly fix the major issues as well.


How to optimize a website for mobile

If your website design shows too many issues and it’s beyond repair, then it’s time to abandon your old website design and switch to a new and a mobile-first design.

Mobile optimized sites are designed with mobile devices in mind and they are properly optimized for different sizes of mobile screens and platforms.

If you’re using WordPress to power up your website, then switching to a mobile-first design is as easy as installing a new theme. You can easily browse WordPress theme marketplaces like ThemeForest and buy a mobile-friendly theme crafted by a professional at an affordable price.

Improve website speed

Google recently announced its plans to use page loading speed as a ranking factor for mobile search results. This means Google will start ranking the fastest loading websites higher in mobile search results than the others.

A website’s page loading speed affects much more than SEO. According to surveys, 40 percent of visitors tend to abandon websites that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Start your speed optimization process by first visiting Google PageSpeed Insights and running a test. See what kind of a rating Google gives for the mobile version of your website and learn what you can do to improve it.

You can also install a caching plugin to compress and minify CSS and Javascript code. Using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) will also help improve website speed by making the website accessible via different locations around the world.

Implement AMP

The AMP Project (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is an open source project developed in partnership with Google to improve user experience on mobile devices. The main goal of this technology is to make websites load as fast as native apps on mobile devices. Google already ranks websites optimized for AMP higher than others on search results pages.

You can setup AMP on your website instantly by installing the AMP for WordPress plugin. Once installed, this plugin will create a static AMP version of your blog posts, which will show up in mobile searches instead of your normal blog posts. These pages will cut down on resource consumption on mobile devices and make web pages load faster.

Optimize blog posts for voice search

Voice search is the next big revolution in search technology. With digital assistants taking over the world by surprise, Google is now pushing websites to optimize websites and blog posts to match voice search phrases.

Optimizing your blog posts for voice search is slightly different from ordinary SEO techniques. In fact, Google uses a special set of guidelines to rank the best results for voice search. These guidelines include the use of proper grammar, the ability to convert the blog post to voice using text-to-speech, and more.

How Google ranks mobile

Is Google penalizing pop-ups?

Google’s primary concern is preserving a pristine user experience for its customers and end-users. Their search algorithm exists to help people find relevant, useful content that meets a person’s search criteria quickly and efficiently. Google has deemed interstitials to be a bad user experience that gets in the way immediately accessible content that meets the search criteria.

Are all pop-ups going to be penalized?

No. Google will allow pop-ups in certain situations. Here are some examples that will not impact your search rankings:

  • Interstitials (anything that interrupts what a person coming to your website expected to see) that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.

There are many other strategies you can follow, such as optimizing blog posts for mobile-friendly keywords and creating content focusing on local SEO, to improve and optimize your mobile rankings.

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