Mobile Optimization: Why You Can’t Just Phone It In

By Raka October 13, 2023

We could probably just summarize the definition of mobile optimization as “something you need to think about if you plan to reach any customers on the internet now or at any point in the future,” but you deserve a better explanation than that, so here goes.

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Mobile optimization is an overall term that could include updates to site design, structure, page speed, and more to ensure mobile users have a quality experience with your website, blog, etc. The practice has been around for a while, but in 2016, mobile overtook desktop as the primary method by which people access the web—making mobile optimization pretty much necessary if you want people to actually see that beautiful website you’ve created.

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Best practices for mobile optimization include (per Moz):

  • Minifying code, leveraging browser caching and reducing redirects to increase page speed
  • Writing short, but still meaningful, titles and meta descriptions to fit the smaller real estate
  • Not blocking things like CSS, JavaScript, or images
  • Not using Flash—it may not be available on some users’ phones
  • Updating the website design to take into account the endless scrolling we do on mobile devices—don’t worry about “the fold,” don’t put buttons where they might be accidentally clicked by a wayward thumb, etc.

If you’re building a new site and considering mobile optimization, you’ll have to decide between a responsive design—where the content on the desktop and mobile is the same and the site uses a fluid grid and a flexible design to adapt to the size of a user’s screen—or a dynamic serving or separate mobile site, but that’s another conversation.

Why mobile optimization is important to marketers

Let’s go to the Pew Research Center to kick this section off:

“The share of Americans that own smartphones is now 77%, up from just 35% in Pew Research Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership conducted in 2011…. Today just over one-in-ten American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users—meaning they own a smartphone, but do not have traditional home broadband service.”

And now over to our friends and overloads at Google:

“Today, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. However, our ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher. To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first.”

That announcement came in November of 2016, and while Google has said this is not intended to change overall rankings, they have suggested that those with non-responsive site configurations should consider making some changes.

To summarize: 77% of people in the U.S. have a smartphone, they use those smartphones to search the internet more often than they use their desktops, and Google is experimenting with mobile-first indexing.

If you want to get found online, you need to consider your mobile users.

If you skimmed this post…

Mobile optimization is any action taken to improve the experience of visitors to your site from mobile devices, and since the majority of internet users are coming from mobile devices now it should be a major part of your digital marketing strategy.

Want to learn more awesome inbound marketing terms? Check out our Inbound Marketing Definitions page.