Harmonizing Mobile Web Design for SEO and Usability (UX)

harmonizing mobile web design seo ux

Long gone are the days when sites were optimized for bots, meta keywords were abused, and crawlers penalized keyword stuffing. Forget about purchasing links too. Other search engines including Google have developed to the point of being able to interpret sites just as humans do, and they are getting better with this deciphering every day. Thanks to this, as such, the gap between optimizing a mobile-friendly site for UX as well as optimizing it for SEO is narrowing at a rapid rate.

Data collected at the beginning of 2016 shows that smartphones accounted for 52% of the traffic to major sites in the first quarter of 2018. Based on estimates this percentage has increased the first quarter of 2015 from 31%. Google rolled out a mobile-friendly algorithm update during the middle of 2016, stressing the need to build websites offering better mobile experience. Therefore, what can you do to balance the mobile UX and mobile SEO of your site while boosting its ranking in search results? A couple of quick guidelines given below will help you get started.

Focus on the most crucial content for that page

When choosing content for smartphones, consider what the user may be searching for in a short time frame. Considering that they are using their mobile device to browse the net, one can safely assume that surfers either have a shorter attention span or spend less time on their desktop or a combination of both. What type of content provides the maximum value to its respective page? Is it possible to save space by trimming the content? Is there good content, which is more suited for another page? Assessing your on-page content is an excellent way to remove excessive fluff that takes up valuable mobile screen estate, but focuses specific page content for your target keywords as well.

Navigation and User Flow

How do your users navigate through your site when you trim down its content? What is the most common conversion path? Leaving the most relevant page or essential page links visible while hiding the others under a drop-down menu (or removing them from your mobile-friendly pages entirely) saves the time of the visitor as well as frees up space. A link from the homepage to a contact or services page is essential. You can put the link to an “our story” page or “about us” under the drop-down.

Optimizing Individual Elements

Blanket styling is an ideal initial step for designing a responsive site. However, do not forget that individual elements may require particular attention too. On occasions, specific elements may not show up the same as others when using blanket style setting. Grid layouts are unarguably excellent frameworks, but they too have their flaws. Perfecting the look of individual elements with small tweaks can make a huge difference and avoids having a user who going away because of unsightly, wrongly sized or misaligned elements and a user who stays.

Capitalize on Mobile Only Features

What do smartphones allow us to do that that the desktop cannot? Click-to-Call buttons are pretty much the norm on mobile sites currently. Are there interactions that visitors can accomplish with the page using a mobile design approach? Why do you not add a swipe feature rather than clicking between images? Does your address link go to Google Maps? Are button and navigation elements easily accessible on the mobile screen? Most users are right-handed, and most of them use their thumb to navigate. Therefore, you should keep these critical functions at the top right. Remember to synchronize your address and phone details with Google My Business too.

Minimize Forms

It is tricky to set up forms on mobile-friendly sites, as they have to collect information from the visitors without discouraging them from filling out the fields. Fine tune your forms for quick information gathering, as mobile users are likelier to have a shorter attention span than desktop users. Will basic contact information suffice? A primary name, email, and phone form could capture that lead quickly on smartphones with a follow-up later to gather other details you may require.

Interstitials

A recent update shows another excellent example of Google adapting to rank, based on UX. Does your site display popups when a smartphone user first lands on the page? You could now be facing a penalty. Before launching, Google announced that it would penalize sites containing these intrusive pop-ups… a sensible decision. These pop-ups, covering up the main page degrades the visitor’s experience, unless the pop up includes details required to be displayed by law, like age verification, which alter your approach in gathering this information. It is better to use a small banner at the top of the screen, which does not block the on-page content.

The more advanced Google becomes, the tighter SEO and UX are working in tandem. Your mobile site creates an ideal user experience if it is clean and straightforward with specific content on respective pages. They send positive signals to Google’s algorithm and boost your website’s rankings while optimizing it for mobile. Should you need help with having SEO and UX working together on your site, give our Vancouver SEO agency a call today.


Cary BlackburnCary is the Co-Founder, Chief Technical Officer and SEO Specialist at Coronation Internet Marketing Ltd. He’s been involved in marketing, graphic design and web design for over 20 years.