Blood, sweat, and tears have gone into ensuring your e-commerce website is inviting, an optimized and welcoming hub for your loyal customers...so the last thing you want is to lose them due to your unresponsive user unfriendly mobile version of your store.
According to research conducted by Google, 64% of smartphone users expect a site to load in 4 seconds or less. What’s more is that 40% of consumers have turned to a competitor for a better mobile experience, and 1 in 4 shoppers abandon their carts if a site’s navigation is too complex.
Mobile-first index is on the lips of every tech-savvy business thanks to Google, and so it's high time to consider what this shift means for you, and how you can optimize your store in preparation.
So, first thing's first...
What is a mobile-first index?
Let's start with the basics. Mobile First indexing means that Google will predominantly use the mobile version of your content for indexing and ranking your pages (rather than favoring the desktop version as has always been the case up to now.)
How does it work?
In layman's terms the dawn of the mobile-first index means that Google now recognizes mobile websites to be as important (if not, more so) than when they are viewed via desktops.
In other words, your customers are largely ditching shopping online at home via desktops, and predominantly doing it on the move using their mobiles and dev8ices. So you need to ensure your online store is doing what they need it to do.
The mobile first index change essentially means that that as a search engine, Google brings in more websites now that the algorithm, bugs, and testing have been ironed out. Great.
But if your e-commerce site isn't fully optimized, and passing Google's criteria for what classes as 'user-friendly' then it's not going to stand a chance being seen amongst the billions of other rankings. Not so great.
The good news? For stores with fully responsive eCommerce sites, there’ll be minimal repercussions. After all, your content will technically be the same across both desktop and mobile - meaning your rankings will be largely unaffected.
How can you optimize your store for the onset of the mobile-first index?
Think like a customer and look at your e-commerce store objectively. How does your website perform on mobile devices when viewing? Is your site user-friendly?
If yes, then great, but the fact is that mobile-friendly alone isn't enough to capture mobile sales. You need to be considering specifics. Start from scratch and give your e-commerce store a thorough overhaul.
Does your eCommerce site deliver a great UX that meets your customer's every need?
Who cares? Well, firstly Google does, which means that you definitely should. When it comes to UX there are various elements to consider: the look, feel and overall design of your site are all paramount.
This includes a clear presentation of data (including the likes of menus), effective use of visual elements (i.e. images and icons) and arguably most importantly - a design that supports what it is that you're offering. These are all examples of great UX.
In terms of displaying content on your store, less can be more. Some designers prefer to use mobile sites that show less content, all the name of providing a better UX.
However, content can hold a ream of SEO benefits on desktop, so you'll need to consider how this translates across to mobile if you're intent on cutting anything out.
When it comes to being in Google's good books, in this instance Flash is not your friend.
What's more is that users want a streamlined, fuss-free experience when they visit your site. The last thing you would want to do is deter them via incessantly disruptive pop-ups.
3. Get testing and check your speed
According to Google, page speed is now a huge ranking factor for mobile searches, so testing your mobile performance should be top of your list when reviewing your e-commerce store.
There is a variety of easy to use tools available online that can help you to identify your current speed including GT Metrix and Google PageSpeed Insights - both of which are straightforward and free to use.
Simply pop in your URL, press ‘analyse’, and you’re ready to go. When it’s scanned over your site, you’ll be presented with a handy list of possible issues and recommendations on how best to fix them.
Slow load times can lose you sales (in fact, it's recorded that websites lose an average of 7% of users with every extra second your page takes to render/load.) Therefore you need to ensure that you're keeping things fully optimized by using fast and reliable hosting at all times.
4. Think Parity
Similarly to testing speed, for full optimization, every available version of your store needs to be taken into account. You can conduct a parity audit to ensure everything is in prime shape for the user.
A parity audit compares and contrasts two (or more) versions of a website (for example a web and mobile version)that are available on the same URL. The process involves crawling each version and proofing and error checking them.
If you're intrigued by the idea of a parity audit but don't know where to start, check out this handy and brilliantly insightful article by Moz, explaining how and why to do a mobile/desktop parity audit
5. Fully Navigate your site
Ensure you're using the likes of free online tools to your advantage. Apps such as this mobile browser emulator allow you to test various screen sizes beforehand, to save you making any drastic and unnecessary changes.
Often, it can be the simplest of tweaks that make a world of difference when it comes to streamlining your site. You can ensure your users are getting the best possible experience by doing the following:
i. Adjusting text size
The text is likely the first element of your site that your user is going to see so you need it to be clear, consistent and instantly visible. It may seem obvious and is a simple element, but getting it right can ensure you’re delivering a high-quality user experience. As a rule of thumb use 16px as your base font size and scale accordingly as needed.
ii. Monitoring tap targets
Allowing enough padding between tap targets prevents the risk of visitors bouncing off of your site, if they’ve previously been deterred by accidental clicks. The key to optimizing these is by making tap targets at least 48px wide, and space tap targets at least 32px apart.
What steps are you taking to optimize your e-commerce store for the mobile-first index? Get in touch and let us know!
Charlie Carpenter is the co-founder and CEO of Kite. He is a mobile advocate with over ten years of industry experience. After working for large and small agencies for many years, he co-founded Kite, a software solution for print-on-demand, zero inventory merchandise and personalized photo print goods. In addition to being an entrepreneur, Charlie is a seasoned product strategist with experience with various types of digital projects, including Responsive and Adaptive Websites, Mobile & Tablet Apps, Hybrid Apps, and Cross Platform App development. You can connect with Charlie on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.