International marketing

Why Mobile Optimization Is a Dealbreaker for Your International Website Visitors

Why Mobile Optimization Is a Dealbreaker for Your International Website Visitors
Rayne Aguilar
Written by
Rayne Aguilar
Rayne Aguilar
Written by
Rayne Aguilar
Rayne Aguilar
Reviewed by
Updated on
November 21, 2023

So you’ve set up your website in different languages to serve your international customers. You’ve successfully translated all your content. That means your website visitors will instantly understand what you’re offering, right? 

Not if your mobile users—regardless of nationality—can barely navigate your website. In fact, 88% of online shoppers will completely abandon a website if they’ve had a bad experience with it.

The rise of mobile browsing cannot be underestimated: in 2017, mobile phones made up 50% of global website traffic. Plus, it grew to nearly 60% in the last quarter of 2022. 

Google was quick to respond: in 2018, they began rolling out their mobile-first indexing. Indexing websites for mobile web browsing began way before this launch, but Google’s acknowledgment cemented it in the public eye. And it certainly had website owners wondering how it impacted their Google search performance. 

So what’s all the fuss about mobile optimization? And how vital is it to your international visibility and SEO success?

Weglot is the website translation industry leader on G2

What is Mobile Optimization?

Mobile optimization—also known as mobile SEO—makes sure that your website presents your content in the best possible way to mobile users. With nearly 5 billion active mobile Internet users—and only 26% of them speaking English—that’s a huge group you’re missing out on. Especially if you have yet to translate your website into different languages. 

Though your website may look clean and attractive, if it isn’t optimized for mobile, it’ll look distorted and chaotic on a smaller screen. But that doesn’t mean you should create a separate website entirely for mobile browsing. Rather, your website should seamlessly adapt between screen sizes while preserving your content without sacrificing page speed or load times. This is called responsive design, which we’ll dive into later. 

It’s important to note that there aren’t two indexes. What Google means by mobile-first indexing is that it bases its ranking and indexing criteria on a webpage’s mobile version. That means it indexes the URL of your mobile-friendly site.

If your website has different URLs for its mobile and desktop versions, there’s no need to worry. Google will present the appropriate URL according to your visitors’ device.

One more thing: mobile-first indexing is distinct from mobile usability. A site may or may not be usable when used on mobile, but it can still have all the information and content necessary for mobile-first indexing. 

In short, mobile optimization ensures that the mobile and desktop viewing experiences are identical. After all, when you’re trying to win over international customers, you’ll want to leave nothing to chance.

Why is Mobile Optimization So Important to Your SEO Strategy?

Any competent marketing strategy has a specific plan for mobile optimization since it’s a key part of good UX. For starters, 85% of consumers believe that a business’s mobile website must be just as good—or even better—than the desktop version. So it’s safe to say that your mobile website needs to be in top shape. 

85% of consumers believe that a business's mobile website must be just as good or even better than the desktop version. Source: Zippia

Mobile optimization ensures that all visitors have a flawless user experience on your website, whether they’re viewing it on a tiny mobile screen or a massive one. In fact, Google rewards those who optimize their websites for mobile—and the opposite is true. If your site isn’t properly set up for mobile viewing, the search engine won’t recommend it to your audience. Your rankings will sink, and your SEO efforts will tumble into the gutter. 

Not convinced yet? Here are some statistics about the dominance of mobile browsing:

With these massive numbers, it’s no wonder Google wanted to focus on providing the most relevant, frictionless user experience.

Adding mobile optimization to your SEO strategy—which should contain website translation and content localization—is planning for success. That way, no matter where your users are or what language they speak, they’ll find you right away and know exactly how you’ll solve their problems. 

Here's a quick video summarizing how to build a content localization strategy:

What is the Difference Between Mobile Optimization and Responsive Web Design?

It’s easy to think mobile optimization and responsive web design are the same thing, but there’s a big difference. Mobile optimization is the overall process of ensuring your website offers the same browsing experience regardless of device. Responsive web design focuses on restructuring and reformatting websites for all types of screen sizes. That means your website’s layout will have no problem presenting your content, no matter how small or big the screen size.

Some businesses can get away with a mobile-friendly website that isn’t exactly responsively designed. For example, if your main customer base frequents your website on a desktop, there’s no need to funnel resources into mobile optimization. On the other hand, if you’re an e-commerce company or generally have a customer base that frequently uses mobile devices, it’s very much worth investing in mobile optimization and a responsive site. 

Responsive design is​​ the key to providing maximum usability across all devices to your users. A website designed this way contains smaller media files and adds more finger-touch-friendly buttons. As many design issues are from squeezing too many elements into one page, this approach will encourage you to keep things minimalist. Trust us—your website visitors will thank you for it.

What are the Benefits of Mobile Optimization?

The benefits of mobile optimization to your business are endless, but here are the most helpful ones:

Better SEO Ranking

Designing your website for mobile optimization will make it easier for all Internet users to reach and navigate your website. Google likes that and will recognize this by ranking your website higher. That will give you more local mobile visitors and, of course, an improved SEO ranking.

Win Over Your Competitors

Users will always prefer the business that gave them the most seamless, intuitive browsing experience. If your competitors haven’t optimized their websites yet, you’ll have a great opportunity to poach their prospects with an impressive homepage. 

Increase Your Brand Awareness

On average, Americans spend 5 hours and 24 minutes on their mobile phones every day. They also check their phones once every ten minutes, or about 96 times daily. That’s ample opportunity to boost your brand’s accessibility through mobile optimization. That way, your target audience can browse your website at any time.

Access to New Advertising Opportunities

Creating on-target advertisements has always been challenging. The good news is that mobile advertising has become sharper and more effective. If you’re promoting your business on Google Ads or similar platforms, be sure to adjust your account settings so that your ads are more likely to pop up in mobile listings. You’ll also want to direct your CTA ads to mobile-optimized landing pages. 

Decrease Your Loading Time

Internet connectivity has come a long way in the last decade, and people have grown used to instant access to anything online. This isn’t an exaggeration: 47% of users expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less. And 40% of users exit a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Mobile optimization means cutting your load times and increasing the chances of your website visitors sticking around.

Accelerated Conversions

When you’ve worked on giving the best possible mobile experience, your visitors are more inclined to purchase from you. The faster they get the information they need about your business, the more likely they’ll convert, bumping up your conversion rate. After all, as mentioned in a study we quoted earlier, an improved user experience (UX) design improves a website’s conversion rates by up to 200%. 

What Makes Mobile Browsing Different From Desktop or Laptop Browsing?

In the early days, desktop browsing reigned supreme. Now that smartphones are essentially pocket-sized computers, the playing field has evened out in speed and accessibility.

For starters, mobile web browsing is meant to emphasize convenience and portability. Since you’re working with limited screen real estate, the challenge is to pack your content attractively without sacrificing important information

On the other hand, desktops are outfitted with faster, more powerful processors and much larger screens, making them much more stable. This allows businesses to deck their websites out in flashy animations thanks to the luxury of more screen space. 

Still, they also run the risk of website elements not loading properly since there’s so much going on—restricting the optimal browsing experience significantly. And if someone tried viewing this type of website on a mobile device, it would be a nightmare. 

That doesn’t mean that you can forgo either type of browsing. Desktop browsing is still necessary since it provides complete access to website content. It’s also easier to explore its features and pages. Mobile browsing is more ergonomic and comfortable since it’s designed to be consumed on the go. 

Remember, smaller doesn’t have to mean boring. Mobile users can instantly take videos, pictures, make phone calls, or use location services to look for something near them. Take advantage of these features, like adding your business’s phone number on your mobile pages, so they can contact you right away.

Lastly, a mobile-friendly website doesn’t necessarily mean it’s been optimized. A miniature version of your desktop website might function just fine, but it may not be intuitive to use on a smaller screen. 

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?

You’re probably wondering now if you have an unoptimized website that unintentionally sends customers away. Luckily, Google has made it easy to check by offering a free mobile-friendly checker

Yet, mobile optimization is more than simply shrinking your desktop website. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine the mobile-friendliness of your site’s design:

  • Can it be navigated with just thumbs, or is it necessary to use other fingers to access its other features?
  • Is there a minimal need to type? 
  • Does it have an autocomplete function in text and search fields?
  • Is it outfitted with large, visible touch-friendly controls and buttons?
  • Is the content legible enough to read comfortably? 
  • Are the image file sizes smaller for the mobile version of your website?
  • Is it minimally designed and free of clutter?
  • Is the content contained in a single column?
  • Can the user see important information without having to zoom in?
  • Is it free of hover events, where the user would have to “hover” with a mouse pointer to access information?
  • Do you have interstitials, pop-ups, or anything that interrupts the browsing experience on the mobile version of your website?

If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, that’s a likely reason your mobile users aren’t converting into customers. Be sure to invest in a lot of A/B testing to get your mobile design right.

How Do You Optimize Your Website for Mobile Browsing?

Now you know how vital mobile optimization is to SERP success. But how exactly do you whip your web design into shape for your mobile and desktop users? We’ve got you covered with these tips:

Make Your Images and Video Accessible

Review the media on your website by checking if they present correctly on mobile devices. If your video player isn’t running as it should, loading only when it’s enlarged to full size, that will disrupt your user’s viewing experience. 

If your website is built on old code or uses incompatible file formats, your media won’t load on all devices properly. Fortunately, this is easy to check: simply open up your website on a mobile device and inspect it for any content that may not be displaying as intended.

Keep Your Text Visible

All the text on your website must be immediately legible and easy to read. If your users need to zoom in or scroll extensively, consider reformatting it. 

The good news is that responsively designed websites do this for you, as they identify the kind of device viewing the content and scale the page’s size accordingly. 

Make the Language Website Switcher Easy to Find

If your website is available in multiple languages, make sure that the language selection switcher is recognizable and in view. 

Weglot makes this easy for you with its Switcher Editor feature, allowing you to choose where to place it, regardless of your integration. That way, visitors can easily choose their preferred language.

Mobile view of configuring the language switcher

Consider Text Expansion and Contraction

There’s a lot more to consider when translating texts beyond making sure everything is accurate. The length of the translated text is typically shorter or longer, which can completely change the layout and design of your website. This will compromise readability. 

For instance, translating a concise language like Japanese into a wordy language like Dutch would yield a translation that takes up much more space than the original. This is called text expansion. You’ll end up with text that will cause your design to look lopsided and awkward. The opposite, where the translated text will take up less space, is called text contraction.

A mobile device’s small screen size will aggravate this, so keep text expansion and contraction in mind when optimizing your mobile website. 

Looking for more guidance in designing a multi-language website? We’ve got you covered.

Minimize Loading Speed

Your page loading speed affects more than your user experience. It impacts your search rankings too, since speed is king when using a mobile device. These are less powerful—and therefore slower—than desktop computers, so a one-second delay on a desktop would be amplified into a much longer delay on mobile. 

As users are quick to abandon a website if it doesn’t load instantly, this could seriously hurt your conversion rates. 

Adapt Interactive Features to Work With Finger-Based Touches

Buttons tend to be small on desktop websites, as users depend on a mouse or trackpad to click on them. That means they show up even smaller on mobile. 

Fingers are much less precise, so you need to make these buttons bigger and more visible for your mobile users’ comfort. Design your mobile layout so that it’s effortless to navigate it with finger-based touches.

Use Compatible Code and Formats

A quick way to do this is to check if you have Flash-based video and audio in your website. These won’t play on most of today’s mobile devices, so getting rid of them is easier. You’re good to go if everything else adheres to the most recent standards, as modern frameworks were made to prioritize mobile functionality. 

Get Rid of Interstitials and Pop-Ups

Your mobile users are working with a smaller screen, and you’ll want to maximize the space without cluttering it. So you’ll want to avoid anything that interrupts the browsing experience, as that can easily irritate your user. 

If you absolutely need to keep a pop-up or two, make them load quickly and easily removable with a single click. Google also penalizes intrusive interstitials, so this is a good opportunity to sweep your mobile site and weed these out.

Get Your Mobile-Friendly Site Multilingual With Weglot

Optimizing your website for mobile devices is one way to charm your international visitors. But the ultimate way? Making sure your website is multilingual, of course. When your audience can comfortably navigate your website in their preferred language on their phones, they’re one step closer to becoming your customer.

Quote from Mike Robertson, Director of Sales Operations at Nikon: "The integration was easy and the support is incredibly helpful. I highly recommend Weglot to anyone looking for a simple and cost effective solution to translate their site!"

Are you ready to start translating your website today? Get started for free with our 10-day trial, and you’ll have a multilingual website in a matter of minutes!

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