Ranking Better For Mobile: Questions To Ask
We live in a mobile first world where mobile optimisation and app store optimisation gain more importance day by day. Google confirmed this last year when it announced that it would create a mobile index, replacing its long-standing desktop index as the default for search results. For any business, this was a warning shot and signified the real and immediate need to create mobile-friendly websites and marketing assets, to ensure visibility on the web’s most popular search engine.
For hotels, this reminder is especially timely given the frequency with which travellers browse and buy travel products including flights and hotel room reservations from a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet. Adopting a mobile first mind set is not optional with Google already indicating that mobile-friendliness will be a major ranking factor. In fact, as far back as 2015, Google had revealed that it processed more mobile searches than desktop ones so it’s fair to say that this change has been brewing for the last couple of years.
If the news that the search engine would make its mobile index the primary ranking engine hasn’t yet prompted you to take action, now is the time to do so. Make no mistake; staying visible and being there when guests turn to the web to find a hotel means embedding mobile optimisation and app store optimisation into the heart of your digital marketing activity.
If you’re ready to get started and rank better for mobile, you’ll need to ask yourself these burning questions:
1.How quickly does my page take to load?
Mobile web users are impatient. They don’t want to wait anything more than a few seconds for a page to load. Often fitting in searching the web around other activities, such as during a journey or even while in store, serving up a fast loading page is crucial. Research shows that 47% of all web visitors expect a page to load within two seconds while 40% will abandon a site entirely if it takes more than three seconds to load (source: Kissmetrics).
It isn’t just departing visitors you need to worry about though – when it comes to mobile rankings, Google also has strict expectations and it has confirmed that page load times are a mobile ranking factor. If your page appears slow to load, you’ll need to troubleshoot the issue. Too large images are a common culprit but there could also be other underlying issues which mean the code and structure of the site isn’t primed for mobile optimisation.
2.Am I using AMP for my content?
Your hotel website should make use of blogs and news stories as part of its content. If this is the case, all blog and news items should use the AMP mark-up for mobile. If you haven’t come across AMP before, it stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and is a project set up by Google. AMP is a truncated version of standard HTML code. It’s intended to speed up page loading times, so mobile visitors can find the information they need much quicker and more easily than would otherwise be the case.
Adding AMP will not only mean your static content is served quicker to those browsing from a mobile device, it also means you’re likely to have a smaller bounce rate and get your great quality content in front of more relevant visitors.
3.Does my site use Flash?
If your site uses Flash at all, your mobile optimisation strategy will face an uphill battle for results. Any Flash elements on your page should be replaced by HTML5 to ensure that the content displays quickly.
4.Is my page too image heavy?
While mobile internet speeds are getting better, and have advanced in light years since the mobile internet was first available, there is still a speed and bandwidth consideration. If your page is littered with heavy images, it will be slow to load, which will have an immediate impact on how mobile friendly it is considered to be.
5.What’s the user experience like?
Google makes dozens of algorithm changes every week, some minor and some major, but the one thing most of the developments have in common is a desire to improve the user experience.
As a hotel business, offering a great customer experience will be second nature but, the principle must also be applied to your web site in order to achieve a good level of mobile optimisation or app store optimisation. While lots of components come under the UX banner, the ones that matter most here are things like keeping content succinct and concise, using bullet points and headers to make it easy for the reader to scroll through the page, taking care with navigation and form submission designs and using keywords in the body text to help with readability and indexing.