More than 43% of visitors to fitness and health-based blogs are using a mobile device. Jewellery blogs, on the other hand, get more than 58% of traffic from mobile devices, and travel blogs sit around the 50% mark when looking at mobile devices, too.
It’s smart to start looking into how to optimise a blog for mobiles, if you haven’t already done so, because it’s pretty much guaranteed that around half of your readers are going to be using one.
But how do you do it?
What do all of those complicated terms mean?
More importantly than that … how confusing and complicated is it all going to be, and how long is it going to take you?
The answer: It’s all easy-peasy and relatively quick, I promise.
I’m going to show you just how easy it is to optimise a blog for mobiles, using free tools, WordPress plugins, and simple-to-implement tips n’ tricks that’ll have you appealing to half of your visitors that are visitin’ on the move.
1 – Check Your Theme
Quite a few WordPress themes, even free ones, come mobile responsive out the box. What this means is, the website will react appropriately and resize itself, etc. when it is being viewed on a mobile device rather than on a desktop.
If you make sure you have a theme that is mobile responsive, half the work is done for you. There are still other things you may need to do, but having a mobile responsive theme should be your number one priority.
What happens if my WordPress theme isn’t mobile responsive?
In short, it’ll look crap. The page won’t look right, images and text may flow right off the page, and things might not work the way you want them to, such as widgets, embedded content, and a lot more.
If you want my advice, make sure you pick a theme that very clearly states that it is mobile responsive. It’ll save you hours of hard work and stress.
2 – Smush Your Images
Smush is actually the name of a WordPress plugin I use to make sure that my images aren’t too big and cause the loading time of my blog to slow right down. The plugin automatically compresses images and graphics, making them smaller, but without reducing the quality. In turn, smaller size means reduced loading times.
Large images slow down websites. People don’t have time for slow websites. If they’re using their mobile devices, they’re probably on the move; therefore, they don’t have time to mess around.
Optimised, compressed images prevent the slowing-down process — and that’s what Smush helps out with, with just the click of a button.
3 – Choose Lazy Loading
You know when you have a Zoom meeting with your boss but you know he’s only going to see the top half of you, so you only bother getting dressed from the waist up? Business on the top, pyjama party on the bottom — the unofficial lockdown uniform.
That’s kind of how lazy loading is — the only bit that loads on a page is the bit you’re currently looking at.
If there are ten images on a blog post, for example, they won’t all load at once. Instead, they’ll wait until they’re needed. Only when you scroll down the page and get to the next image (or loadable section) will it start loading.
Eager loading – where everything loads all at once, right at the beginning – slows your website or blog down because you have multiple things all trying to load and work at the same time — images, ads, gifs, text, etc. If you have ten images, all ten of those images will be trying to load at once.
Lazy loading, on the other hand, will require your blog to do less work. The first few images on the page will start loading when someone lands on it, but the rest will wait until the reader scrolls down and gets to that particular part of the page. Only one or two of the images will be trying to load at once, the rest staggered. Page loading times should speed up as a result.
The Smush WordPress plugin offers lazy loading, as does Jetpack — two must-have plugins on any blog, in my opinion.
4 – Break Things Up
You don’t want endless streams of text on a mobile device because it’ll be overwhelming to look at and most people won’t read it. Instead, your text should be broken down into smaller paragraphs, clearly labelled with headings and subheadings, combined with plenty of white space and bright, eye-catching images.
Mobile screens are smaller than desktop screens, which will definitely have an impact on the way your finish blog post looks. People use their mobile devices on-the-go, too. It’ll take far too long for a reader to scroll through one long page of text to find the answer they’re looking for.
When the long text has been broken down into sections, however, with headings, images, and plenty of white space, it’s easy for a reader to skim over it as they scroll down the page, and then find EXACTLY what they’re looking for.
5 – Reevaluate Your Pop-Up Use
One thing that annoys me more than I can articulate is finding an awesome blog, starting to read it, and being bombarded with ads and pop-ups and and all sorts of other crap that stops me from being able to see the content I actually want to see.
Why don’t you just close the obstructions and carry on reading, I hear you ask?
Well, to start with, some of the exit-buttons on pop-ups are so flipping small on a mobile device that actually trying to hit them is virtually impossible.
Secondly, all that pop-up action slows the whole loading process. By the time I’ve waited for the pop-up to load, and then waited for it to disappear once I’ve hit the exit button a hundred times, and then waited for the actual website or blog to load … I’m pretty much out of there.
I don’t care how awesome your website is, I’m not waiting around for all of that palaver.
And thirdly, they’re annoying. I, personally, find them annoying. I don’t have pop-ups on my own blogs because I find them so terribly annoying — and yes, I know that’s going to hurt my growth but it’s a hill I’m willing to die on.
6 – Reevaluate Your Ad Usage, Too
You know, while we’re on the subject of things that annoy the crap out of me on other people’s blogs, let’s just have a quick chat about advertisements.
Yes, they’re essential if you want to make money on your blog.
Yes, they come in many forms, and not every ad is an obvious one.
And yes, sometimes, they can be really flipping annoying.
Here are a few more of my opinions:
~ Ads that take up most of, or all of the page on a mobile device should be thrown right in the window. Ads tend to take even longer than pop-ups to load, and if you didn’t get me to stick around to deal with the latter, you certainly aren’t going to have much luck with the former. Not only that, I often click on the ad by accident, which then takes me away from the original website I was on, and then I get annoyed by it so I don’t bother going back.
~ Not every single page or post on your blog needs to have an advertisement.
~ Ads are designed to take people AWAY from your content, remember?
Think about it: Google Adsense ads are designed to send people from your website to another website — the one being advertised.
And affiliate links? Yep, they’re doing the exact same thing — and it’s not even guaranteed earnings. Someone could very easily click through, choose not to buy, and then go on living their lives, forgetting that you and your content ever existed. Sending traffic AWAY from your blog on that occasion definitely wouldn’t have been worth it.
You need to strike a healthy balance with advertisements, especially on mobile devices. You can’t make money without advertisements (such as actual ads, sponsored posts, etc.), but you also won’t make money if you too many, or they’re not well thought out.
7 – Check Your Blog on a Mobile Device
I use Elementor to build my blog, which gives me the option to preview the page in three formats as I work on it — mobile, tablet, and desktop. This allows me to check my work on three types of devices and correct any errors before I publish it and send it out into the world.
Sometimes, I realise that certain paragraphs are too long for a mobile device (because y’all know how much I love to talk), so checking beforehand gives me the chance to split or shorten chunks of text and make them more manageable. I’ll add in an extra heading/subheading or two, maybe even decide to throw in an extra image to brighten up an otherwise boring section of the page.
Certain images or graphics, especially with text, also look a bit pants on smaller devices, so I can check for the quality of them before publishing, too.
If you don’t ever check your blog from a mobile device, you’ll never know how your audience really sees it … and you’ll never see the problems they see.
WordPress offers a mobile preview these days — it might be time to start using it.
8 – Keep Checking Back
You can’t just make your blog mobile responsive and then forget all about it; that’s not how it works. You’ll need to check things over every now and then, make sure that everything is still working in just the way you want it to.
Updating themes or plugins can sometimes change the way things look on both desktops and mobile devices, and it can even cause things to fail completely, sending out all sorts of error messages.
The ‘rules’ of mobile optimisation will change from time to time, or technology will change, so what works now might not work later on. You have to be willing to learn and evolve if you want to make it in the blogging game — especially when it comes to best practices.
What Do I Need to Do to Optimise a Blog for Mobiles? ~ A Summary
~ Check Your Theme
~ Smush Your Images
~ Choose Lazy Loading
~ Break Things Up
~ Reconsider Your Pop-Up Use
~ Reconsider Your Ad Usage, Too
~ Check Your Blog on a Mobile Device
~ Keep Checking Back