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4 Tips for Passing Google's New Mobile-Friendly Test

4 Tips for Passing Google's New Mobile-Friendly Test
Image credit: Johan Larsson | Flickr

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With 2 billion smartphone or tablet users expected to engage in some form of mobile commerce transactions by 2017, brands can’t afford to not be mobile. So why are consumers shopping on-the-go still being directed to sites with tiny text, excessive scrolling or worse – requiring Flash?

Google, the undisputed leader in search, has decided websites need to meet the growing consumer demand for mobile performance and is rolling out a new “mobile friendly” label for smartphone search results. The new feature, which could soon affect websites’ search rankings, will make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for in a format that performs better on mobile devices.

While the mobile-friendly label will be friendly to consumers, it won’t be so friendly to online retailers whose sites aren’t mobile-optimized. In addition to sub-par search rankings, we estimate that if a retailer isn’t on mobile, they risk losing up to 50 percent of potential sales.

Does your online storefront pass Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test? If not, here are four ways you can build a mobile-optimized site to drive revenue and stay competitive in search rankings:

1. Start with the smallest screen.

By building your site to work for the smallest screen first, it forces both yourself and your design team to work in a highly constrained environment.

Start by asking three fundamental design questions: What are the most important things for the customer to see? What are the most important things for the customer to click? What are the most important things for conversion?

Answering these questions will help you identify which information and features are most important to include on the page and ensure that your business goals are manifested in the site’s design.

Related: 5 Tips for Boosting Your Mobile-Marketing Platform in 2015

2. Lead with a call to action.

There are two main calls to action on an ecommerce site: “Add to Cart” and “Checkout.” Your “Add to Cart” should be prominently displayed on each product page below the product photo, but before the long form sales copy and customer reviews.

If a customer doesn’t pay for their purchases immediately after adding them to his or her cart, use a shopping cart popup to prompt them to easily check out without tabbing to another screen. This popup should stay open until the customer takes an action, either by tapping away or (hopefully) selecting the large, brightly colored “Checkout” button.

3. Simplify navigation.

Whereas consumers can use a mouse to navigate around a larger page on desktop, the same isn’t true for mobile.

The key to effective navigation on mobile is to reduce the shopping experience to just what the shopper needs to see. The experience should be more visual and intuitive, with more information accessible when the consumer wants it. For example, if you’re an apparel retailer, the home page navigation should only include links for major product categories, such as Women, Men, Kids and Accessories.

Reducing the number of links on the mobile version of your site also helps to clear up real estate and streamline the design. By moving additional links to within the collapsed navigation menu, you can make all necessary links available to consumers without cluttering the page.

Related: Google's 3 Essentials for Mobile-Friendly Websites

4. Make your checkout frictionless.

It’s frustrating than when a customer goes through almost the entire checkout process only to abandon their cart. That’s why it’s especially important on mobile to have as few barriers to checkout as possible.

Use a scrolling checkout instead of forcing consumers to tab to a new screen and wait for it to load. You can further improve your checkout by decreasing the number of fields and adding an auto-populate functionality. This not only reduces the keystrokes customers need to type to complete a transaction, but also helps prevent billing and shipping errors due to typos.

As smartphones continue to evolve and customers become more sophisticated in their uses and expectations for mobile, design must also improve to offer a smoother shopping experience. By adopting a “bare essentials” approach to design, including only content and features that align to business goals and improve user experience, you can ensure you have a strategic framework to launch a mobile-optimized site that’s sure to please consumers, and Google’s search algorithm.

Related: 4 Strategies to Stop Shopping Cart Abandonment on Mobile