Say It Ain’t So… A Google Mobile Site Speed Penalty?

Get the “Mo” in SoLoMo ready because Google is yet again ready to change rankings of mobile search results. Isn’t it shocking how many updates are rolling out this summer? Don’t hold your breath because more are expected before the season is over.

Google’s Hints
While it hasn’t always seemed official/explicit, it looks like mobile site speed will be an important factor in Google search rankings on smartphones. For some time now, Google has been urging webmasters to prepare for this change. Although sites won’t be out right penalized for slow mobile sites, they may face a demotion in rankings and that’s never a good thing. Will this mean that SEOs will soon have two things on their plate: desktop and mobile SERPs?

Along with slow mobile site load time, Google is also looking to crack down on typical mobile mistakes that webmasters might make. For example, forwarding landing pages to the mobile home page instead of mobile versions of that specific page. Also using a lot of Flash video since it’s not viewable on iPhones or phones that use Android 4.1+. Take a more in-depth look at what Google has to say about mobile ranking factors from the latest post on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog.

To Be Responsive or Not?
Responsive design
sounds like the way to go to take care of most of these problems. Unfortunately, depending on the size of your site and resources available, it might not be so easy to get a mobile responsive site up and running. Quality control and consistency is also important for responsive web pages as you want a seamless browsing experience. If you’re not ready or willing to fully commit to a responsive website, it might not be time just yet to go that route. But remember, the longer you wait, the sooner you might be forced to face Google’s mobile search ranking factors.

Find Out What’s Best for Your Site
Is your website mobile friendly? How many people are actually coming to your site via a mobile device. Some business owners might be surprised to find out that there are more visitors coming to the mobile version of their site than the normal, desktop version. If this is the case, it’s all the more reason to invest more into an efficient mobile site. If you’re looking for input or alternatives, it’s helpful to know that there isn’t a “right” answer for all websites. It’s arguable that for some industries, like e-commerce, responsive web design could actually hurt the user experience. Contact us today and let us know any questions you might have. We’re here to help!

5 Timeless Landing Page Optimization Tips

Landing page optimization is important for organic, paid and mobile search. Here are some tips that will pretty much always be relevant for optimizing a landing page:

1) Think fast: Is your landing page loading fast enough? A slow loading page/site can deter potential customers from returning to your site. Use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Mobitest to see the improvements you can make.

2) Add user-generated content: Testimonials are an easy way to add an element of trust and reliability. Check out some more ways to earn visitors’ trust.

3) Easy to find contact information: Having prominent, easy to read numbers and click-to-call options is a must-have, especially for mobile landing pages. A Google study in 2011 shows that 61% of mobile users call after a local business search. This also means having short and easy to fill out contact forms.

4) Test everything: A/B testing, in-page analytics, eye tracking studies, surveys, and even focus groups. There are many different ways (for different budgets) to test the effectiveness of a landing page. It’s crucial to update landing pages and look for ways to make them better.

5) Don’t over promise – This doesn’t necessarily mean lying but the content needs to have a clear focus. When customers click and land, they should get what you’ve promised. Having a clear call to action with related headings, sub headings and bullet points make it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for and will likely increase their on page time and even encourage them to make the conversion.

Related articles:
Optimizing PPC Landing Pages: Maintaining Scent
10 Foolproof Ways to Earn Your Landing Page Visitors’ Trust
101 Landing Page Optimization Tips

Mobile Web Design Tips for 2013

This is definitely the year for mobile website optimization. With the newest gadgets like the Lumia, Note II and a whole lot more to come, it’s important to consider how your website will look on a mobile screen. As recently reported, about 25% of clicks come from mobile devices! Here are some mobile web design tips to take with you this year:

1) Make everything big – Text, photos, buttons, navigation, calls to action, white space, and more. This is certainly a good year to think big when it comes to your mobile website. Big is better than small and it’s certainly almost always true for a smaller screen, so don’t be shy about it.

2) Prioritize content – Your mobile site can’t possibly have everything that the desktop version has. Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr will serve as good practice for your content curation skills – this is where you’ll need to pick and choose the best content and arrange them in a way that’s pleasing to the eyes (as well as thumbs).

3) Follow typography trends – Pictures are great but if they’re too big or there are too many, it could slow your mobile website down… and that doesn’t include spotty cell phone coverage that’s thrown into the mix. Designers are gravitating towards using customized and stylized type. Who knew you could be so creative with just letters? Check out some trends here.

4) Utilize responsive web design – Wouldn’t it be great to have a flexible site that can shrink and grow depending on the device? When using the responsive web design approach, you don’t have to worry about making different versions of a site for specific devices.

5) Test for different screen sizes – If you’re not ready or able to take the responsive web design approach, testing your mobile website is crucial. There is no longer a “standard” size. Check out mobile device emulators like iPad Peek,  MobiReady, and ScreenFly.

Website Audit: 7 Factors to Look Out For in 2013

Tomorrow marks the first day of December but it’s not too early to audit your website for the new year. It’s been a tumultuous year for search but all aspects of online marketing have been affected. As cliche as it is to talk about the changing world of the interwebs, 2012 really showed SEOs how much the landscape can change and that we need to be quick on our feet in order to survive.

Although there are many, many more, here are 7 things to look out for when analyzing your website’s effectiveness. Be sure to share your ideas with us too!

seo-2013

1) Keyword Usage: In most cases, the best advice is to cut back on using keyword rich anchor text, diversify phrases and use more branded terms.

Long gone are the days where you need a exact match domain in order to rank well for a certain term. Not only do the incredibly long, hyphenated URLs look spammy but Google has removed the benefit that they have long received in order to level the playing field for everyone.

Cutting back on linking exact match anchor text isn’t enough, as it’s important to also check pages for high keyword density. Even if you’re selling something specific like red tube socks, it isn’t necessary to see that phrase (or very similar) 100 times on one page. This also means cutting back on aggressive keyword use in meta elements, alternative text and image titles.

2) Number of Links: The less number of links you have on a page, the better. Around 100 is the goal but even less will be even better. When we talk about number of links on a page, we don’t just mean links in the content. Think about the links in your side navigation, drop down menus and links in the footer. It’s unnecessary for most of these to be on EVERY page of your site and will only slow it down. This is where utilizing an SEO-friendly content management system is helpful because you can control the links from one location and initiate site wide changes.

3) Navigation: Help users find what they’re looking for. But this doesn’t mean showing them all the content on your site at once! Make sure your pages are using appropriate breadcrumbs and even add jump-to links that will show up in search snippets.

4) Social Media Integration: Google, Facebook, Twitter are a must. But are they really? If no one is Tweeting, why not use LinkedIn shares? If no one is Liking, what about Google +? More buttons = more load time = more frustrated visitors, so choose the ones that are relevant to your business. It’s amazing to see that some sites are riddled with every social media share button possible including ones that might not be extremely mainstream/important such as Digg and Reddit.

5) Mobile Website: Have you thought about how failing to optimize for mobile phones and tablets could drive users away from your business? Check out our previous post: Elements of Effective Mobile Website Design. Keep things simple and take the rule of thumb literally: people don’t want to swipe multiple times to find what they’re looking for!

6) Utilization of Local: Local businesses need to make their contact information easy to find. Many contact pages still don’t have maps to their location or just have a toll-free number. This isn’t just crucial to the user experience, but Google+ Local relies on the contact info on your site and citations from other relevant local sites to make the connection to your physical location.

When it comes to mobile devices, use local strategies to your advantage by offering coupons, click to call options and supplying user-generated content like reviews. These will all help with conversion and bring customers into your business.

7) User Experience: Including all the things we’ve already talked about, it’s crucial to address basic things like having no pop-ups (or very few if necessary). Some sites also utilize user crushing experiences such as too many ads above the fold, auto-play videos/music or even making it hard to find your business’ contact information.

Your Site Needs to be Mobile Friendly

Have you noticed the influx of smart phones hitting the market? It seems that every week, there’s another new, highly sought after phone. This gives consumers more power and choice but it also means that your business needs a mobile friendly website now more than ever.

About 31% of cell-phone owners have a smartphone and you can bet that the number will continue to grow and you can bet that it means more internet browsing on a mobile screen. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re planning your mobile web design:

  1. Keep your mobile site and landing pages simple and straight to the point. You may also want to do testing on different browsers and different mobile devices, because not every smart phone owner has an iPhone!
  2. Use text but not too much of it. If you’re thinking of images with text and fancy buttons and other graphics, you should really reconsider. Depending on what area I’m in, the weather and numerous other factors, my cell phone internet speed can be slooow as… dial-up? If your customer has a slow load time on your website, that can almost always ensure that they’ll bounce away
  3. Adapt to your audience. Many businesses and brands opt for creating a mobile site that is completely different from what their regular site looks like on a normal desktop. Some experts believe that this could actually dissatisfy them. Instead, you can code your site so that it automatically adjusts to the screen size of the device, whether it’s smartphone, tablet, or netbook.

Just like a normal website, there is no one formula you can follow for success. The grounds for an effective mobile website seems even more flexible nowadays, especially because it all depends on your business and type of customers. Feel free to share any helpful links and resources if you have them. For you CSS fans, here’s a good article from Smashing Magazine that goes into more detail about building a successful mobile site.