Is Mobile-Friendly Good Enough?

Recently I had the great pleasure of teaching a four-hour session on local and mobile SEO at SES London. We reviewed tips and techniques for optimizing your mobile presence to improve local listing and traditional SEO positioning.

As it turns out the timing could not have been better, as on February 26 Google announced that on its Webmaster Central Blog that “Starting April 21, we [Google] will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.”

Google has created a number of tools to guide webmasters to developing a mobile presence that helps ensure consumers receive a beneficial user experience. For example, Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool helps to better understand page load times and basic user experience scoring for both desktop and mobile.

The tool provides a score system and suggestions for improvement.

In these examples, you can see first how a poorly mobile optimized site scores:


Versus a site that has been optimized for mobile:


Additionally, Google has a tool that focuses solely on determining if a site is “mobile-friendly,” which can be found here.

The tool offers additional tips on improving your mobile user experience to gain the “mobile-friendly” designation on mobile search results.


Is “Mobile-Friendly” Good Enough?

I think not. While I applaud Google for providing the tools, I would certainly take heed and ensure that my Web presence passes its tests based on its latest announcements of mobile becoming a search-ranking signal. However, the bar has been placed pretty low based on the criteria that Google has been able to automate in these test scenarios.

For example, I tried putting a number of sites through the test that most people would deem poor mobile presences. Here is an example of one.

Google’s Mobile-Friendly tool returns the mobile-friendly designation:


Yet, when I review the site, I find that the text readability and desktop length content reproduces very poorly on the average mobile device:


Therefore, when optimizing your mobile presence, consider the Google tools a starting point as opposed to an ending point.

A New Way to Think

Back in January 2012 I penned, “Mobile Website or Please Read the Fine Print?“. The column offers tips and tactics for creating a good mobile and local Web presence. So, I will not rehash those basics here.

Back when I wrote this column, I was still an advocate for making the mobile presence a sub-set or cut-down version of the desktop experience. More recently, however, I have changed that thinking and now employ a “mobile-first” perspective.

By focusing on the mobile experience first, the task content redevelopment for the desktop version becomes much easier. All too often, a company’s website becomes a dumping group of content that grows over time based on input and requirement from various departments that deem “their content” as vital.

Marketing departments that utilize “inbound” marketing and SEO content marketing as their sole tactic for lead generation have exacerbated the trend toward unruly content. Of course these tactics are important, so before you hit the “comment” button below and tell me how important it is, consider answering a few basic questions for your consumers.

Who, What, Why, & Where

  • Who do you sell to (target categories and experience)?
  • What do you sell?
  • Why are you better than the competition?
  • Where do I buy it (locators, NAP – name, address & phone number)?

Use the concept of an “elevator pitch” to hone down your content to the most persuasive basics. Your “elevator pitch” is a summary that can be delivered in the time span of an average elevator ride – approximately 30 seconds to two minutes. This focus requires that your content is sharpened to first create a hook, and then creates and engaging flow to keep the users’ attention.

So instead of offering up the “About Us” link in first position, consider “Why Us” as your content lead.

Adapting a mobile-first approach makes desktop and long-form Web content marketing projects become easy. So to win the battle for local and mobile search position, leverage Google’s tools, but also do not forget to apply good old marketing 101 focused persuasion to boost your sales.

Related reading

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