Mobile first: guidelines to improve your SEO

Mobile first | 

Thanks to the quick development of the features and functionalities of mobile devices in recent years, many users choose to perform their searches, purchases and operations through their phones, instead of doing it on the computer. Therefore, it is essential to take into account that our website must adapt to the size of the screens of these devices, and the mobile-first is a design method that focuses on this important problem in the SEO of our pages.

What is Mobile First?

Mobile-first is a web design methodology in which, in the first instance, all the work is adapted to the screen of a mobile device. In the most common method used to date, a web page is designed thinking about the dimensions of a conventional computer’s screen, then adapted to tablets and, finally, to cell phones.

With mobile-first, the exact opposite happens, first the web is designed based on the resolution of the cell phone, and then scaled to increase its size and allow its optimal functioning on computer screens. Currently, it is essential that the designs are responsive, that is, that there is a scaling available for any type of device. Otherwise, we would lose all the visibility of certain devices, something unforgivable for SEO positioning.

How does it improve positioning?

Currently, Google has updated its algorithm so that the first thing to value, for SEO positioning, is the optimization of the web on mobile devices. If the website has only been designed with a conventional computer screen in mind, Google will penalize us and we will lose a lot of visibility.

Although SEO is worked taking into account many factors, this is one of the mandatory if we want to get the most privileged positions. We must take into account that every day more and more users have mobile devices connected to the Internet and use them to perform searches and queries on the Internet, so adapting our website to the mobile has become an essential task.

What is mobile-friendly?

The fundamental principle of mobile-first is that our website must be 100% mobile-friendly, that is, it must be fully optimized for any mobile device that wants to consult it. In terms of optimization, we refer to the full performance of the website: adequate size, correct navigation, achieving reduced loading times… All these factors can be checked by entering the URL of the website in Google’s Webmaster Tools.

When we talk about a mobile-friendly website, although the above mentioned is essential, we must not neglect another important aspect: the value of our content. If we comply with the above but the texts are poor in quality, the images do not add value and we do not include extra elements such as graphics and videos, we will not be able to get the best positions in Google.

It is important to differentiate mobile-first from responsive design, since both aim to offer the best user experience on mobile devices, but from two different concepts. While in mobile-first the design is 100% focused on mobile devices (smartphone and tablet), in responsive design, the web is first developed and designed for desktop computers, and then the web is adapted to the special characteristics of mobile devices (smaller screen, vertical orientation, touch and multiple functionalities).

How to implement mobile-first to improve SEO

When designing a website following the mobile-first principles, we must pay attention to several factors that will make a difference in the positioning of our page with respect to the others.

1. Optimize content for mobile

As mentioned above, everything related to the operation and proper optimization of web content on mobile devices is crucial for Google to reward our work and get better positioning. In this section it is essential to control that the performance of the web on mobiles is full, the loading times are reduced as little as possible, and the quality of navigation is optimal.

2. Use appropriately sized images

The size and quality of the image are essential in the mobile version of our website. If the images are published in an excessively large ratio, we could force the user to scroll continuously if they want to consult the text. On the other hand, very small images would force them to zoom, so they would not be suitable.

In relation to images, we cannot forget about their quality, as it can generate quite a few problems in some devices. Currently, many cell phones work with quite high resolutions, so low-resolution images would be displayed quite blurry on them. To avoid this problem and not lose visibility, we have to make sure that all images are of high definition.

3. Be careful with the size of the font and the buttons

The font should be large enough to be read without having to zoom in, but not too large either, as this could affect other visual elements of the website.

On the other hand, the buttons included in the website must have adequate size, in order to prevent users from making unwanted clicks and enjoying comfortable navigation.

4. Avoid the use of flash and other technologies that do not work on cell phones

To optimize the SEO positioning of our website, it is not recommended that we include programs that include technologies such as Flash, as this is not compatible with mobile and would change the experience of these users, who could not enjoy the content 100%. Therefore, we will only have to use programs and add-ons that are compatible on all devices, both PC and tablet and mobile.

5. Reduce the size or weight of all the content of your website

If this is a factor to which we must pay enough attention when designing a web for computers, in the field of cell phones is even more important, since the loading speed of these devices can be compromised if not done correctly.

In addition, this speed of response of the web is also an important factor for Google’s algorithm, so we will need to optimize it in order to improve our SEO.

6. Take the responsive design into account

Responsive designs, which we mentioned earlier, not only refer to making the PC-tablet-mobile adaptation, but we must also take into account all types of devices that exist within each category.

There are mobile models with different resolutions, both horizontally and vertically, so our website must be suitable and have a correct operation in each of them to be considered mobile-friendly.

7. Avoid misuse of pop-ups

We cannot neglect, at any time, the use of pop-ups on our mobile devices. Many times, when we browse some pages, some of them appear to us with an excessively large and annoying size and do not allow us to see the elements of the page properly or have comfortable navigation. If this is the case with our website, Google will penalize us.

8. Make sure your content is available on all devices and mobile platforms.

We will not only have to adapt to the characteristics and physical properties of the mobile, but we must also take into account the different platforms and devices operating today so that none of them is excluded when browsing our website. No operating system, browser or application should experience particular problems while viewing our content.

9. Do not block CSS or JavaScript

This factor is one of those that Google takes into account to determine whether our website is mobile-friendly and responsive or not, so it is essential that both work properly on our website. Currently, the vast majority of devices are already perfectly prepared to work with both, so it would not be right that they are blocked on our page.

Tool to check the mobile-friendliness of your website

Fortunately, Google has a free tool that allows us to perform a real-time optimization test of our website on mobile devices. Thanks to it, we can check if we have followed the above tips properly and if we meet the basic standards of the platform that will allow us to obtain a good SEO positioning.

To use this platform, we must go to this link and enter the full URL of our website to get it running. It is a fairly quick test, which will be completed in just under a minute, and will show us a screenshot of the appearance of our website on mobile, along with a list of the compatibility and optimization problems that have been found.

The usual usability errors detected by the application are:

  • The viewport property is defined with a fixed width, which does not allow to adapt the web to the scale of each device.
  • Some of the plugins used are incompatible with mobile devices (generally, what we discussed above with respect to Flash).
  • Some of the plugins used are incompatible with mobile devices (generally, what we discussed above with respect to Flash).
  • The content is wider than the width of the screen and forces the reader to turn the mobile screen horizontally in order to see all the words and images.
  • The buttons and elements are located in very close positions, which causes erroneous clicks by the users.
  • The text included has a very small size.
  • El texto incluido tiene una fuente con un tamaño muy pequeño, obligando a utilizar el zoom para leerlo de forma cómoda.

In a conclusion, we can say that, if we are looking for the best positions on the Google results pages, it is mandatory that we make a mobile-first or responsive design of our website. Currently, the percentage of users browsing on cell phones is too large to ignore, so mobile-friendly will be a fundamental concept in SEO for a long time.