April 13, 2015 | Sarah Sullivan | Digital Strategist

No Mobile-Friendly Website? No Problem!

As a professional agency we have some pretty high standards and best practices when it comes to mobile design and development. Of course, all this research, strategy, visualizing, planning, creating and testing takes months.

You may not have months. As a business owner or marketing professional you know that sometimes a quick and temporary solution is needed.

What to do if You Don’t Have a Mobile-Friendly Website

A little later in this post we’ll reveal a couple of options that might work as temporary mobile optimization solutions.

First, let’s back up and use Google Analytics to assess the potential impact of this Google algorithm update to your business.

Determine the Amount of Website Traffic from Google Mobile Organic

Modify the Source/Medium report to see how many of your sessions are sourced from Google organic and on which type of device  (desktop, mobile or tablet).

Go to Google Analytics and do the following:

  1. In the left sidebar, navigate to Acquisition > Source/Medium.
  2. Click the Secondary dimension button at the top of the grid, and select Users > Device Category.
  3. Sort the Source/Medium column by clicking in the column head to group the google/organic entries together.
    Now you can see the number of sessions attributed to desktop, mobile, and tablets (remember, Google doesn’t really consider tablets to be mobile devices at this time).
Google Analytics report showing Source/Medium filtered by Device Category
This screenshot shows the amount of Google organic traffic to a website broken out by desktop, mobile, or tablet device.

Google has actually been sorting out non mobile-friendly web pages from the mobile search results for awhile, so chances are that if you don’t have mobile optimized pages, you may have been experiencing a decrease in your mobile traffic for several months now.

If a high percentage of your overall users are still coming in via Google organic on mobile, you’ll probably see a drop-off to zero or near zero after April 21.

You Don’t Have a Mobile-Friendly Website − So What Are Your Options?

If you find yourself needing a mobile-friendly quick win check out these potential options:

Responsive Plugin
Check to see if your CMS has a responsive plugin available. There are several recommended plugins for WordPress sites that help make non-responsive sites responsive. It’s still highly recommended that you go back and do a full redesign, starting with a responsive template and not rely on a plugin long-term since plug ins aren’t nearly as stable as themes, but a plugin could buy you some time.

Temporary Standalone Mobile Website
Depending on the size of your website, the type of business you’re in, and the number of pages inbounding large amounts of traffic, another stop-gap measure could be to temporarily set up a separate mobile website. This is still not a simple solution, but comparatively, it will be easier and faster to setup a separate mobile website than to redesign your existing website for responsive.

Follow these steps if you’re considering trying to setup a mobile website:

Prioritize the primary pages: Include the homepage, contact, about, service/product pages and any other pages or posts that are in-bounding users to your site.

To see which of your pages are bringing the most users onto your site check out your Google Analytics again. Go to Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Landing Pages.

For example, if you have a blog with 200 posts but 10 of them show up as landing pages responsible for bringing in traffic to the site, recreate those 10 posts on mobile and don’t bother with the other 190.

Prioritize your branding: Make sure your logo is visible so people recognize you.

Make contact information clear in the mobile design: include your phone number, email address, physical address if you have one, and a contact form on each page.

Emphasize your written content: it will not only keep your site smaller and faster but the written word (and html) is still the most critical factor for the spider crawling the page and trying to figure out what you’re all about. Pay special attention to formatting content so it’s easy to read on phones (more paragraph breaks, sections and lists).

Include all your meta data: Just another form of written content, custom meta descriptions and titles should be a high priority not only for the spider but your users as well.

Ensure your pages are mobile-friendly for Google: It may seem obvious, but make sure you test your pages using Google’s mobile friendly test as you go and don’t forget to review and follow Google’s best practices on Signaling Separate URL Configuration to Search Engines.

Do a QA and SEO Review: Be especially conscious of irrelevant cross links (links from the mobile version of your page to the desktop version and vice versa) and broken links if you’ve pared back the pages on your mobile site.

Try to get all of this done in under a week and as soon as it’s done, get started on your responsive website strategy and redesign.

Mobile-Friendly Website Design Best Practices

Please note that a quick-turnaround mobile website is not a good long-term solution and it’s one we wouldn’t usually advocate. Not only do you not have enough time to really put the necessary thought and strategy into the design to support any sort of content marketing efforts or Local SEO optimization, but it means maintaining two unique websites over time.

If you create a temporary mobile website, don’t lean on it for more than a few months. Remember, it’s just meant to buy you some time to allow you to properly implement a permanent solution.

For more on how to create a mobile friendly website the right way check out our white paper on the topic. You will learn why having a mobile website is so important for your business, the pros and cons of different mobile website design approaches, and how to determine which mobile optimization technique is best for your website.

Other Blog Posts in this Series

Post #1: 6 Things You Need to Know About Google’s Mobile Friendly Algorithm

Post #2: Is Your Website Mobile Friendly? 3 Ways to Check

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