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January 3, 2012

The Explosion of the Mobile Web… Is Your Website Ready? – A SPN Exclusive Article

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Just a few short years ago, it was a good bet that you would read articles like this one on your PC or laptop. Today, it’s just as likely that you are reading this article on a smartphone or tablet computer. So what’s changed, what happened? The mobile web happened, that’s what – and the Internet will never be the same. So, what’s the mobile web?

Loosely defined, the mobile web is a way of accessing the Internet via a wireless network, using a handheld mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet computer.

The Explosion Of The Mobile Web

The mobile web is growing at a phenomenal pace, and is forecast to overtake the desktop web in 2014. In other words, more users will access the Internet using a mobile phone rather than a PC for the first time.

Approximately 900 million people currently access the web with mobile phones, compared to 1.4 billion desktop Internet users. In 2014, mobile web users will outpace desktop users (approximately 1.7 billion mobile users to approximately 1.65 billion desktop users). By 2015, the number of mobile web users is expected to increase to 2 billion.

Assuming an annual growth rate of about 2 percent annually between 2010 and 2015 in cell phone subscriptions (77 percent of the world’s population will have cell phone subscriptions in 2010 and 87 percent will have subscriptions in 2015), about 6.35 billion people worldwide will have a mobile phone subscription and approximately 1 out of 3 subscribers (or 2 billion out of 6.35 billion) will be accessing the Internet on mobile phones. (Source: Wikimedia)

And according to the August, 2011 edition of eMarketer, 33 percent of mobile users are looking to access local content relevant to their GPS positioned location.

Is Your Website Ready?

So, what does all of this mean to you? It means more people than ever will be viewing your website through a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet computer, via a wireless network. It also means that if you want to survive and thrive, you have to adjust and adapt, and make your website mobile web friendly. The good news is, it’s easier than you think.

“Within the Alexa top 1,000 sites, 40.1 percent of all sites are mobile-friendly. These sites represent the world’s most popular web properties, like Google, Facebook and Yahoo!

Beyond the top 1,000, mobile friendliness still holds strong but is not yet as widespread. Of the top 10,000 Alexa sites, 29.7 percent perform well on mobiles. Once the input data is broadened to include the top 500,000 sites, the total number of mobile-friendly sites drops to 19.3 percent.” (Source: mobiThinking.com)

If you haven’t already done so, the very first thing you need to do is bring your website up to speed visually. In other words, you want to make sure that users of mobile devices can view your site optimally.

The quickest and easiest way to do this is to run your site through the MobiReady online testing
site. This is a free service that evaluates mobile-readiness using industry best practices & standards.

The free report provides both a score (from 1 to 5) and in-depth analysis of pages to determine how well your site performs on a mobile device. There are also other tools that will allow you to test your site for mobile readiness. In fact, here are 10 Excellent Tools for Testing Your Site on Mobile Devices.

Personally, I have serious doubts about the accuracy of these types of testing tools. For example, I ran my site through MobiReady, and it gave my site a 2 out of 5 score which, according to their analysis is bad. I got the exact same score before and after I mobil-optimized my site.

Here’s the problem: I’ve had many friends and colleagues of mine, all with different makes and models of smartphones, on a variety of platforms, tell me that my site looks just fine on their phones. So while testing tools may be a useful resource, the true litmus test is what users of mobile devices are seeing – so be sure to ask them.

That being said, there ARE things you can do to mobile-optimize your website.

How To Make Your Website Mobile Compatible

1. Have a fast-loading site.
Chances are, most mobile-web users who are using their phones to access the Internet are using a slower 3G connection. You can help these users out by making sure your website code is clean, which will not only make for a faster-loading site, but faster downloads as well.

2. Don’t use flash. Not all mobile devices can see flash? Personally, I’m not a huge fan of flash sites anyway. But if you absolutely, positively have to have a flash site, be both smart and considerate. Make sure you have an alternate HTML version of your site as well.

3. Have a clean, easy to navigate website. Remember, mobile users are viewing your site on a tiny little screen. In addition, there is no mouse and not all mobile devices are equipped with a touch screen. So don’t make it harder for mobile users to view or utilize your site than it needs to be. Clean up the clutter and streamline your content. Simplify, simplify, simplify. If you keep it simple, your site will be user-friendly for everyone.

4. Use HTML phone numbers. Don’t make mobile users have to type in your phone number. Use HTML so that they can simply click to dial the number.

5. Avoid horizontal scrolling. Mobile users prefer to scroll vertically as opposed to horizontally. It’s easier and less of a hassle for them. Always create your content as a single column of text that wraps for mobile users.

6. Use images sparingly. As I mentioned earlier, most mobile users are using a slower 3G connection. As a result, heavier images can take forever to load. To avoid this problem, you should use images sparingly on your website. But if you do choose to use images, they should be lighter-weight jpeg, gif or png format. Also, make sure to compress your images to avoid zooming.

7. Voice Search. Google’s Voice Search on smartphones, has increased voice search usage by approximately 600% in the past year. Since mobile devices don’t have a traditional keyboard like a PC or laptop, voice search makes searching quicker and easier for smartphone users. So you should definitely keep an eye on this trend for SEO purposes. Bear in mind, people tend to search differently when speaking as opposed to typing. For example, while you might type-search “best virtual assistants,” you might voice-search “what are the best virtual assistant services?” Again, it’s a trend you should keep an eye on.

Indexing Of A Mobile Site

Google mainly recommends the following for better indexing of a mobile site.

• Google has a separate mobile bot for indexing mobile friendly pages. So, always redirect this bot (check for user agent ‘Googlebot-Mobile’) to the mobile version of your site. This bot should not see the normal site.

•Use the XHTML Mobile doctype so that search engine bots can clearly identify the page as mobile friendly.

•For each page, there should be a link for the standard view of that page. It will help Google to categorize mobile pages and its corresponding standard pages. (Source: The Right Way to Build a Mobile Site)

Making Blogger & WordPress Mobile Compatible

For Blogger users, it’s a simple 3-step process:

1. Log into your blogger account.

2. Navigate to and click on the settings “Email & Mobile.”

3. Click on the radio button that says “Show mobile template on mobile devices.” Save settings and you’re done.

For WordPress users there are a variety of plugins available for you to make your WP site mobile compatible.

Conclusion

I’m well aware, we live in a society where people would much rather pay someone to do something for them than to do it themselves. Mobile optimization is no exception. If that’s your preference, for a fee of $4.99 a month, MobileWebAmerica.com will convert your website to a mobile accessible site which will display perfectly on thousands of mobile devices. The conversion will make your website mobile compatible by adapting it to the smaller screens of smartphones and other mobile devices. No programming is required on your part.


David Jackson is a marketing consultant and the owner of Free-Marketing-Tips-Blog.com – Powerful, free marketing tips to help grow your business! http://free-marketing-tips-blog.com

17 Responses to “The Explosion of the Mobile Web… Is Your Website Ready? – A SPN Exclusive Article

    avatar Tom Shivers says:

    Great article David, especially the seven steps to a mobile friendly website.

    Thank you, Tom. I appreciate you taking the time to read my article. :)

    Thanks for sharing, very interesting article.

    Simon

    avatar Lee says:

    Excellent article.

    I’ve tried the mobile testing sites and agree with you: most test for compatibility with non smartphones.

    I build mobile sites for a living and no matter how great sites look on mobile devices, how quickly they load in mobile devices… those tests give between 2 and 3 points to any site with pages over 20kB in size (bit of an exaggeration, lol).

    Better to look at the test’s errors and warnings for guidance. As long as the errors don’t affect your target audience’s viewing pleasure, then your site’s okay.

    Thanks for the tips!

    avatar Former Marine says:

    David; another great, useful article that opened my eyes … but, I wonder just how many people REALLY use their cell / mobile phones to literally check millions of websites?

    If they’re really doing that, especially while driving on city roads and Interstates, it’s no wonder there’s so many accidents where people are innocently killed.

    That’s why I won’t concern myself to make sure my main website is “mobile ready” … like we always say, Different strokes for different folks.

    avatar Lee says:

    My brother uses his phone to browse the web all the time. He only uses his laptop or desktop when he has lots of research to do. For those quick “I need a pizza”, “I need a plumber – fast!” and “What’s at the cinema?” urges, he uses his mobile. Guess which sites sell him?

    A lot of the 15 to 25 age group use their mobile like we old fogies used the Yellow Pages and directory inquiries at their age. If you’re targeting young people, you need a mobile site.

    Very inspiring article David, you’ve now got me hooked on the concept of going mobile with our site. Let me know if there is a follow up to this article.

    avatar Jim says:

    The FUTURE of web design is going to be mobile. Having a responsive website design is critical. I take all my mobile designs to task with remote Usability Testing (such as http://www.usertesting.com) to see what real website users really think while they use my mobile websites. Even when i think I got it right I am always amazed at what I find watching others use my designs.

    avatar Ethan says:

    David, You did a great job raising people’s awareness of the rapid expansion of the Mobile Web. Thank you very much for mentioning mwa.mobi! Much appreciated!

    Thank you for your valuable feedback everyone. :)

    Great Story. We are all going mobile however searching for locations vs searching for service providers is somewhat different. Placing an insignea on all our vechieles so people can use their smart phones to remember our company is something we did to join the market.

    avatar chris turner says:

    well written article! Definitely a must for all businesses…thanks again! I used NowMobileME to create my full mobile site…check them out http://www.nowmobile.me

    Amazing your content related to Google is going to penalize non-mobile friendly websites. This update is for mobile ranking in mobile search. Your content is really good for us……..

    avatar arun says:

    its actually really very good news

    I am hoping the same best effort from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing skills has inspired me

    avatar Mobdro says:

    And The guides which is going to process in the coming days to see the coming process is also very nice to see the best process.

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