Mobile Optimization Tips for Your Website and Other Digital Content

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When Internet-connected mobile devices first came on the scene, to accommodate this new mode of traffic, businesses created pared-down versions of their standard websites and called them their mobile sites.

This tactic doesn’t work anymore.

With more than half of Internet users now browsing on mobile devices, the content on your desktop and mobile pages must be the same to be sure that you are serving all users the same information.

All your page rankings are based on your mobile page performance. This is due to Google’s universal mobile-first indexing, which has been active for years and will finish rolling out in 2021. In short, mobile optimization is more critical than ever!

Whether someone is browsing your website, checking out your Facebook page or reading your emails on their mobile device, there are some optimization factors that will always matter:

  • Fast content load times
  • Clean page design that’s easy to navigate and helps users find the information they want
  • Engaging, informative content that entices users to connect with your company

How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile Devices

Let’s jump into mobile optimization tips specific to SEO, design and development on your website, emails and other digital properties.

Content & Search Engine Optimization for Mobile

It’s important to remember that mobile search results are not the same as desktop results. Mobile search results are heavily influenced by the user’s location. Think about all the times you’ve pulled out your smartphone to perform “near me” searches (restaurants near me, putt-putt golf near me, etc.). Additionally, rich results in the search engine results page (SERP) – such as featured snippets or news carousels – are more common on mobile than desktop.

Because of those two key differences in the SERP, optimizing pages for localized and long-tail keywords is a great way to target mobile users. Implementing structured data is another excellent mobile SEO optimization tactic if you want to capture more mobile users through rich results.

SEO is vital, but it won’t work unless the content is high quality. Always prioritize publishing helpful, engaging content. This is important for all users on all devices, but there are ways of writing that work well on mobile. Break up copy with sub-headers and bulleted lists to make the page skimmable and to avoid walls of text. Additionally, use keywords sparingly. There’s no need to aim for keyword density targets anymore (unless you get most of your traffic from Bing SEO). Just use your keywords in the title tag, H1 header and wherever they fit naturally in the copy. Cramming keywords in can result in penalties.

SEO for mobile also includes optimizing your website for speed, responsiveness and UX best practices. Here’s how to do it.

Design & Functionality: How to Optimize a Website for Mobile

Mobile-responsive layouts provide a great user experience on mobile (and desktop) devices. Give the layout adequate consideration during the planning stage, and make sure it’s designed thoroughly before development begins.

Here are a few specific website design elements that deserve special consideration for mobile:

  • Build a menu navigation that uses a hover state alternative, since hovering over menu items isn’t possible on mobile devices. Hamburger menus and scrolling panels are just a couple of navigation options that provide good mobile UX.
  • Reserve room for a bold CTA somewhere near the top of the page – but not necessarily above the fold. You often need a little space at the top of the page to explain context and value before you hit the reader with a CTA. At the same time, you don’t want to make mobile users scroll for too long before seeing an action point.
  • Consider using sliders, accordions, and other design elements that give the user the option to view more detailed content if they want to. Some users will choose to skim the page and scroll quickly, while others will interact with the hidden content.

Considering Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

If your website is intended to be relatively simple, consider implementing an accelerated mobile pages (AMP) framework to promote fast page loading. Keep in mind that AMP requires simple, clean page design to avoid the features and functions that can slow down page speed. For example, AMP prohibits JavaScript third-party code, ads and analytics packages. If your website content is suitable for this kind of clean design, then an AMP framework could provide a fast and responsive page experience across your domain.

You may also implement AMP on a small portion of your site – Oneupweb applied AMP on our blog pages and saw great results.

If an AMP framework won’t work for your website, there are more timely, less complicated options. For example:

  • If your website is on WordPress, a plugin such as WP Rocket can provide a quick boost in page speed.
  • Because large images often have a massive impact on page speed, consider moving your existing images to WebP format, and implementing lazy loading to speed things up.

The next section digs deeper into page speed optimization tips for improving both mobile and desktop performance. 

Other Page Speed Optimization Tips

Google’s May 2021 Page Experience algorithm update prioritizes Core Web Vitals performance metrics, which measure how smoothly and efficiently a page loads. Because of a mobile device’s dependence on networks to load data, this update is expected to have a bigger impact on mobile users than desktop users.

When optimizing an existing website for mobile speed, check for crawl and speed issues specific to mobile users. Google provides several helpful (and free!) tools for testing page speed. One of our favorite tools is Google Search Console, which provides a list of pages with Core Web Vitals and Mobile Friendly issues.

The website tested in the example below has problems with cumulative layout shift (CLS), which means elements on these pages don’t load synchronously, leading to content unexpectedly shifting around before the page is fully loaded:

a chart showing poor core web vitals

You can also identify problems like missing pages (404 errors) and pages with warnings in the Coverage report:

a chart showing poor core web vitals

Google’s Lighthouse test measures a website’s mobile performance and pinpoints the problems that tend to repel mobile users. The page tested below performs well for accessibility and SEO, but work is needed to improve page speed and visual stability, shown here as “Performance”:

a performance chart from google lighthouse

Mobile-Optimized Email Design and Strategy

Sending mobile-friendly emails has also never been more important. While more than half of emails are opened on mobile devices, an organization’s industry may have a huge impact on mobile email readership. The highest mobile email readership is 60% for companies in the leisure, sports and recreation industry; the lowest is 38.2% for schools and other education organizations.

While the text you write certainly matters, design and development matter the most when it comes to knowing how to optimize email for mobile. Clunky, poorly designed email templates can sink your campaigns faster than poorly written email copy.

Follow these tips for winning, fast-loading email design and development:

  • Implement responsive email design so your emails provide a user-friendly experience on all mobile devices.

Drag-and-drop templates from many email marketing platforms are responsive and help prevent issues such as text boxes or images that are too wide for screens. Additionally, responsive email design leads to 15% more clicks from mobile users.

  • Reduce image sizes whenever you can. This will help your email load faster on mobile devices.
  • Be sure all text and buttons are large enough to be seen on any mobile screen.
  • Don’t place clickable elements (such as buttons and links) close to each other. This prevents users from accidentally tapping on the wrong element on their smartphone.
  • Use Google Analytics to figure out which mobile devices your audience uses the most. Then, you can run future emails through a testing tool (such as Email on Acid) to make sure your content and design will provide the best possible user experience on those devices.
  • When in doubt, test it out. Tell your email platform to send a test email to yourself and open it on your smartphone. See how long it takes for the email content to load. Pay close attention to the size of each element in the email. Try clicking around – will “fat finger” be an issue for your users?

Here’s one more tip: Make sure your email design is compatible with Dark Mode. This is an increasingly popular setting on mobile (and desktop) devices that alleviates eye strain. Setting up your emails for Dark Mode users may entail updating your code to ensure your email’s appearance stays consistent, regardless of what email client or settings each user employs.

If you haven’t discovered Dark Mode yet, it’s worth a try. Once you make Dark Mode a preference in your phone’s settings, new apps that are Dark Mode-compatible can automatically select this theme for you. Here’s what Gmail looks like in Dark Mode on a mobile device:

dark mode on a phone email program

Mobile Advertising Optimization

Running paid ads can be an effective way to support your ecommerce goals and promote brand awareness. But just like everything else, your ads will be experienced differently on desktop and mobile devices. Here’s how to get the best possible results from your mobile-optimized ad campaigns.

To run mobile-optimized ads in Google search, consider these tips:

  • Use expanded text ads. These provide more room for text in the ad and provide optimal performance for mobile users.
  • Implement ad extensions to display additional information, such as your company’s phone number or page links, in your search ads.
  • Remember that the third headline in a standard search ad is often hidden on mobile – use this area for nonessential information.

Here are some strategies for creating optimized mobile display ad campaigns:

  • Each platform has its own requirements regarding image size and text ratios, so be sure to follow the image guidelines set forth for the platform you’re using (e.g., Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.).
  • Test image ads and responsive ads in multiple sizes and formats to achieve more conversions.
  • Experiment with automated bids and audience targeting to achieve higher volume with your display ads.
  • Be cautious about placing ads on mobile apps. For many companies, placing display ads in an app gets a lot of impressions and false-clicks, and is therefore not a productive placement option. App placement can be excluded but has to be done through the Google Ads desktop app, rather than the web interface.

Adhere to these guidelines for all ad types:

  • Devise iterations of each ad and test, test, test until you land on an ad that knocks it out of the park. The same goes for audience targeting. Make adjustments until you’ve got it dialed in.
  • Monitor device type performance. If mobile vs. desktop performance varies significantly from paid users to paid converters, then it could indicate issues with mobile user experience. If the ratio of desktop vs. mobile vs. tablet users who click on paid ads changes substantially, it can be a predictor of a coming behavior change. For example, we observed such major consumer behavior shifts at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Create dedicated landing pages for ad campaigns. Make sure the style of the landing page and ads match each other. Make the user funnel and call-to-action on the landing page crystal clear. And of course, make sure that landing page is optimized for mobile! When creating new landing pages, refer to the Website Tips section for more helpful guidance.
  • Confirm that you’re tracking conversions accurately.
  • Make sure your ad copy is compelling and creates a sense of urgency.
mr rooter ad

Create Superior Mobile Experiences

Thanks to SERP rankings being solely determined by mobile performance, mobile-based marketing is only going to become more competitive over time as competing businesses try to out-mobile-optimize each other. Plus, the average user’s attention span will only become shorter as mobile experiences improve across the board. Getting support from mobile optimization experts can help your business succeed in this challenging space.

Oneupweb Is Ready to Help

Oneupweb knows what it takes to stay on the cutting edge of mobile optimization. Let our team devise a strategy to keep your organization competitive in all things mobile. Give us a call at (231) 922-9977, or complete our contact form today. We look forward to connecting.

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Taylor Holloran, Account Manager I joined Oneupweb after spending five years as an editor and project manager for an electronic publishing company in Traverse City. Before moving to northern Michigan, I worked on the ground for several international aid organizations, supporting development and conservation projects in Argentina, the Philippines and Cambodia. My experience working with...

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