With the impeding “Mobile First” search index over on the worlds biggest search engine, Google, it’s more important than ever to ensure your site is optimised for their mobile ranking criteria, so if you’ve been slacking behind and not got your mobile site online, or at least up to scratch, now is the time to take action.

We’ve got some simple checklist style items for you to go over to get the best possible start when the switchover finally takes place in the next few months.

Site Load Speed

Google uses load speed as a major ranking factor, and have stated that anything over 2 seconds is not acceptable, whilst half a second or less is seen as what you should be aiming for – both of these are in relation to e-commerce based websites.

Most of the major ecommerce sites load super quick, and this is what users have come to expect, and as such Google also expects this. Having a fast loading website is essential when considering whether or not your site will rank well in the mobile-first search index.

* Ensure your images are not too big, large images slow down page load speed as the browser needs to load the image before the page is considered fully loaded

* Minify your CSS and Javascript files – this is removing all white space which isn’t requried for the code to function correctly, this decreases the file size, and helps marginally with site load speed.

* Utilise browser caching – you set this up server side in your web config or .htaccess file, adding directives which tell the users browser to cache certain file types, for example images – this means that subsequent page loads will be much quicker.

* Ensure you do not place too many redirects on your site, it 301 or 302 redirects, each redirect will cause the users browser to make a new request which in turn marginally increases the time it takes for your site to load.

Don’t follow outdated rules

Gone are the days where we should be blocking javascript and css, or even images from mobile browsers – in the early days, this was acceptable but now user experience is king, this means, if you have fancy javascript based features that can work on mobile devices and improve the user’s experience, go for it! Don’t block them!

Likewise, if you’re running an ecommerce site, blocking images would be counter productive – users want to see product images before buying.

Mobile Design Considerations

* DONT DONT DONT use Flash on your website – most mobile devices cannot load flash, and the ones that can will be a minority, by using flash you will be making the user experience poor for the majority of mobile visitors.

* Unless they are part of the user experience, ditch popups – having popups on a mobile device is generally more of a hinderance than a help.

* Remember, mobile users will be dragging and tapping with their finger, not clicking and scrolling with a mouse, keep this in mind, and ensure elements which require user interaction function in the smoothest possible manner on a mobile device.