Is your brand’s digital strategy truly “mobile first?” This term has led discussions around the future of digital marketing for the past five years, but it easily confuses even savvy marketers who make a common mistake: They confuse mobile friendly with mobile first.

There’s no better time than now to understand the important distinction between the two – and evaluate your brand’s strategy to make sure your organization is poised for success.

Facebook, Google and Mobile First Thinking

Recently, Facebook joined Google in telling advertisers they need to make their ads load faster. Consider this compelling stat from Facebook: 40 percent of users click away if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Facebook is so determined to improve its users’ experiences with ads that it has decided to factor page loading speed into its delivery system. In other words, if your ads are too slow and not optimized for mobile, your ad may not even show up.

Loading time is already one of the biggest concerns in mobile advertising. But it would be shortsighted to think about this problem in a digital vacuum. It’s only the latest example of web giants like Facebook and Google signaling to us that our strategies must prioritize the needs of mobile users. That’s the essence of mobile first.

What is Mobile First?

If you spend 8-plus hours at work typing and browsing on a desktop or laptop computer, it is easy to forget how dominant mobile usage is outside your office.

Two-thirds of all Americans own a smartphone, according to the latest mobile use stats from the Pew Research Center. That figure is significant because it almost doubled in only four years – from 35 percent in 2011 to 64 percent in 2015. People use their phones – and even their watches – to get directions, stream TV shows and movies, do online shopping, browse social sites and read the news.

Increasingly, people rely on mobile devices to run their daily lives – at home, at work and on the go. Their ability to quickly access and easily digest online content on a small screen can make or break a site’s success. (Read Google’s take on how important these so-called micro-moments are to the mobile consumer experience.)

That’s where mobile first thinking comes in. It’s not just about decreasing loading times, launching a mobile-friendly design or offering mobile apps. It’s about doing all of these things and more to create a comprehensive mobile strategy that – yes – puts the needs of mobile users before anyone else.

Elements of Mobile First Strategy

At Charles River Interactive, mobile is always present in our thinking and incorporated into our recommendations.

Starting in 2015, Google changed its algorithm to boost rankings for mobile-friendly sites. As a digital marketing firm that specializes in SEO, understanding these changes is core to our approach.

We believe a strong mobile first strategy should incorporate the following:

  • Mobile SEO solutions: Coding is very important here. We look at factors like site configuration and dynamic serving. Our team knows how to optimize page titles, URLs and meta descriptions for optimal performance. For clients who depend on reaching a local audience, we take into account local search intent when formatting meta data.
  • Mobile friendly content: The way you write your content significantly improves the mobile user experience. Read our 5 Tips for Mobile Content to learn more about how we recommend keeping users engaged.
  • Responsive design: The days of creating a mobile version of websites are quickly fading away. We recommend clients consider a responsive design, which responds to users’ behavior based on what device they are using. For example, if you swap from a desktop to a smartphone, the site automatically adjusts for resolution, screen size, etc.
  • Loading times: It’s true that incorporating graphic design elements and video on your pages can increase user engagement and boost rankings. But if they take too long to load, your business is in danger of losing potential customers who won’t wait around for the content they wanted. The key is working with an expert team to help you find the right balance.

Interested in learning more about improving your mobile website? Check out Charles River Interactive’s blog View from the Charles:
The 2nd Phase of Google’s “Mobilegeddon” Has Been Officially Released
Mobile Search Updates: Why You Need a Mobile Website
5 Tips for Writing for Mobile

Want more information? Get more details on Charles River Interactive’s SEO and PPC service offerings or contact us today.