Webmasters

Checklist for mobile website improvement

Once you've launched your smartphone-optimized site, this checklist provides a framework for making improvements. Several topics in the checklist link to a relevant business case or study, and other topics may have a video explaining how to make data from Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools actionable during the improvement process.

Helpful prerequisites

  • Website analytics installed (such as Google Analytics)
  • Webmaster Tools verified ownership of desktop and mobile site(s) (i.e., verify two sites if desktop and mobile are on separate URLs)

Step One: Stop frustrating your customers

Remove cumbersome extra windows from all mobile user-agents | Google recommendation, Article
  • JavaScript pop-ups that can be difficult to close.
  • Overlays, especially to download apps (instead consider a banner such as iOS 6+ Smart App Banners or equivalent, side navigation, email marketing, etc.).
  • Survey requests prior to task completion.
Provide device-appropriate functionality
  • Remove features that require plugins or videos not available on a user's device (e.g., Adobe Flash isn't playable on an iPhone or on Android versions 4.1 and higher). | Business case
  • Serve tablet users the desktop version (or if available, the tablet version). | Study
  • Check that full desktop experience is accessible on mobile phones, and if selected, remains in full desktop version for duration of the session (i.e., user isn't required to select "desktop version" after every page load). | Study
Correct high traffic, poor user-experience mobile pages
How to quickly determine high-traffic mobile pages with a poor user experience through Google Analytics bounce rate and Events, and improve common issues (slides)
  • Identify pages with poor or unexpected user behavior:
    • Check popular mobile pages for abnormally high bounce rate.
    • Find mobile pages with high number of clicks to full desktop experience -- indicating user desire to expand functionality of mobile page. For example, use information from the Google Analytics Behavior Flow Report or Events.
  • Make improvements:
    • Speed up slow pages referencing Site Speed Suggestions.
    • Improve significant usability issues:
      • Interact with the page on the same devices type as your users to locate causes of dislike.
      • Emulate devices with Chrome Developer Tools
    • Improve content to meet user needs.
Make quick fixes in performance (and continue if behind competition) | Business case
How to make quick fixes in mobile site performance and compare your site to the competition (slides)
Perform additional testing if you have a separate mobile site
  • Check that redirects work as intended -- reference Webmaster Tools Crawl Errors for the potential "Faulty redirect" category of errors.
  • Try to use 302 for device-related redirects (not 301s).
  • Verify desktop page redirects to corresponding mobile page, not 404 or general homepage. | Business case
  • Eliminate redirect chains:
    • Redirect directly to the final destination.
    • Verify non-preferred version of site goes directly to the mobile site:
      • Annoying: http://example.com/page.html 302s to http://www.example.com/page.html 302s to http://m.example.com/page.html 200
      • Better: http://example.com/page.html 302s to http://m.example.com/page.html (and cached for user)
  • Review (if it's up for consideration) the benefits/drawbacks of changing site to responsive web design. Building Websites for the Multi-Screen Consumer may help weigh the decision.

Step Two: Facilitate task completion

Optimize crawling, indexing, and the searcher experience | Business case
  • Unblock resources (CSS, JavaScript) that are robots.txt disallowed.
  • Implement search-engine best practices given your mobile implementation:
How to optimize popular mobile workflows using Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics (slides)
  • Gain insight to your site's mobile user intent:
  • Refine mobile metrics:
    • Create mobile-centric metrics (and micro-conversions) based on common mobile tasks.
  • Improve user workflow:
    • Run-through top mobile tasks on the same device as commonly used by visitors (diagram each step until goal completion) to check for places to improve user-experience.
    • Follow usability best practices, such as to use legible font sizes
    • Minimize interaction cost (number of actions like clicks or scrolls) required to fulfill top tasks.

Step Three: Convert customers into fans!

Consider search integration points with mobile apps | Announcement, Information
Investigate and/or attempt to track cross-device workflow | Business case
  • Study logged in behavior for the same user across different devices, especially in the path to conversion.
  • Research "add to cart" or "add to wish list" visits/re-visits for cross-device continuity.
Brainstorm new ways to provide value
  • Build for mobile behavior, such as the in-store shopper. | Business case
  • Leverage smartphone GPS, camera, accelerometer.
  • Increase sharing or social behavior. | Business case
  • Consider intuitive/fun tactile functionality with swiping, shaking, tapping.

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