How to build a mobile optimised website that delivers sales

All the data we see suggests that the recent growth in the use of smartphones will continue unabated – for the rest of this decade at least. Despite the sheer volume of information suggesting this being in existence for a number of years, the search engines were slow to define how they would prefer mobile websites to be developed and how mobile-website owners should consider mobile SEO.

Search engines are notoriously fickle entities. Simple and honest mistakes can result in websites being delisted – as have been seen with Google’s recent Panda and Penguin updates. What is important, therefore, is that before you launch a mobile optimised website that it you consider both the needs of your customers, and the search engines.

The following information would be useful to those that are either embarking on their own mobile website development project or if those customers using our quick to set up mobile-optimised template system.

1)      Ensure that the relevant html5 tags are present
The meta name=”viewport” tag is essential for mobile-optimised sites. It tells the browser how to display the page when it’s loaded. You can find more about this tag here.

2)      How little can you display?

The first question to consider is how little of your current content and structure you actually need to display to your mobile-using customers? For the vast majority of websites information and content has been built up over the years. Ten minutes highlighting the most pertinent information can help you convert customers in much greater ratios than if you fill your mobile website with information not focused on “getting the sale”

The MymCart system focuses primarily on what we’ve highlighted as the most important information, but offering you the flexibility to enhance your website. You will have the opportunity to include your telephone number prominently; you will be able to detail the services you offer, your social profiles, news items, videos and a gallery of images. But more importantly, you have the opportunity to extend this basic information with content that sells your products and services.

3)      Make sure you design your redirect script properly

A redirect script is inserted into your desktop website to redirect those using mobile devices to your mobile website. It is essential that the script used is future-proofed, or at least can be updated easily to take into account the new mobile devices that come along. This script will look at the user agent and device information and needs to ensure that you are capturing all mobile devices.

4)      Display information clearly

Even very little information can confuse. It is important that whatever content is used, it is displayed so that it can be easily read and acted upon. The MymCart dashboard gives you the opportunity to change fonts, format text, change the text size, add images, add tables, add special characters and all the other usual WYSIWYG functions you would expect.

Structurally, we’ve designed the template to allow for you to add your flair, but kept the navigation and call to action options consistent throughout the site.  These templates were born out of a great deal of testing and are optimised to increase your conversion rates.

5)      Avoid anything that isn’t cross-platform compliant

Apple doesn’t like Flash and Java, it just doesn’t display on their devices. We don’t support the technology and recommend that if you design your own system that you don’t consider them from the outset.

6)      Understand that “responsive design” isn’t always an option

If you are researching the possible options for mobile website technology, you are likely to have seen the term “responsive design” used frequently. Essentially this is a method of displaying content differently whilst users are on the same physical page dependent if they are using a mobile device or are using a desktop computer.

The issue is that this design feature isn’t always an option for customers that don’t have an in-house design or development resource to-hand or are unwilling to fund a new desktop website to be built.

7)      Understand that Google has a crawler for desktop websites and two that seek out and indexes mobile-optimised content.

Google uses two main Googlebot-Mobile crawlers: one for feature phones and one for smartphones.  Their mission is to locate mobile-optimised content and their associated redirects.  Hence, it is important that you test how your website is indexed by the search engines when using your mobile device.  Try taking a sentence from your mobile website, add quote marks around it and search Google. If after a few days of launching your mobile site, it isn’t being returned in their search results then you may have a problem.

8)      Avoid duplicate content

Theoretically you should use a rel=”alternate” tag on your desktop site to the related mobile page, however, this isn’t practical in the vast majority of cases. The benefit is that if you at least have canonical tags deployed from your mobile site to the desktop you will be fine on this count.

9)      Try to build social into your mobile offering

According to Nielson’s Q3 2011 social media report approximately 40 per cent of social media users are using their mobile devices to socially network. Often sharing websites is a central activity of these users and hence it is important that your content can be viewed by these millions of social networkers.

The logic works in reverse too. Customers that are using mobile devices often like to share it too. Many large-scale content owners had been slow to include social sharing buttons; however, today these options are now omnipresent across these major news and information platforms.

10)      Ensure that phone numbers are “click to call”
When a phone number is displayed it is essential that a customer can click on it and this creates a call to you.  Requiring them to write down a phone number to call you will result in much lower call volumes.

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