What Does Mobile Friendly Really Mean? Four Things You Need to Know
You might be tired of hearing about the mobile revolution, but it’s undeniably here to stay. That means you need to make sure your website really is mobile friendly. Of course, to do that, you need to figure out what mobile friendly actually means.
There are plenty of reasons why you need to go mobile. Mobile search will soon overtake desktop search (it already has in some industries). Mobile ad spend is likely to surpass desktop in 2015. Today’s customer is becoming more and more likely to make a purchase or begin the buying cycle on a mobile device. Nothing turns a shopper away from your business faster than a site that doesn’t play nice on mobile.
Before you run off and pay for a brand new mobile site or app, you need to get an understanding of what it’s really going to take to provide your potential customers and visitors with a true mobile-friendly experience. An app isn’t necessarily the answer, and in today’s world of responsive design, having a separate mobile website doesn’t make sense for many businesses.
During the past year, Google has made plenty of adjustments that favor the mobile experience. Here are just a few of the things the world’s most popular search engine has done:
- Added “Mobile Friendly” to the knowledge box
- Updated Webmaster Tools with a Mobile Usability Report
- Created the Mobile-Friendly Test
The Four Main Mobile-Friendly Factors
In order for a site to be considered mobile friendly, it needs to pass four main tests. Fail any of these tests, and your search rankings could suffer—and not just on mobile devices. Google is taking a clear stand against sites that aren’t optimized for the mobile user.
Here are the four main tests your site must pass to earn mobile-friendly status:
1. Compatible Software
If you want your site to work well on mobile, you have to use software that is compatible with mobile. That means you need to avoid Flash at all costs. Flash wasn’t built with mobile in mind, and mobile wasn’t built with Flash in mind. The two just don’t get along. If your main website uses Flash elements, then you need to be ready to provide a mobile alternative.
2. Readable Text
Your website’s text should be readable on mobile without the need to zoom. If a visitor has to zoom in to read your text, this means extra work for the user. It also means your text might not display exactly how you want your customer to see it. A mobile-friendly site is readable from the second it loads on the screen.
3. Properly Sized Content
The elements on your website should be naturally sized for mobile devices. That means your images, videos, and contact forms need to fit on the screen. Your users shouldn’t have to zoom or scroll horizontally to see an element. Nothing makes people leave your site faster than content that doesn’t display the right way.
4. Properly Spaced Links
It’s no secret that mobile devices have small screens, which means elements have to be resized to fit. Of course, fingers don’t get smaller when using a smaller device. If your links aren’t spaced properly, then it’s easy for a user to tap the wrong link. This is particularly true of navigation menus. When you try to fit an entire navigation menu horizontally on a mobile device, you’re creating a situation of almost impossible navigation. Give people the ability to click where they want without looking for smaller fingers.
If your website passes these four mobile-friendly tests, then you are likely in decent shape. Don’t assume your website is good enough just because it looks okay on your phone. Use the available tools to verify your site really works the way search engines (and people) want it. Also keep in mind that passing these tests doesn’t necessarily mean your website provides a great mobile experience. But at least it’s a start and might earn you the "Mobile Friendly" title in Google results.