Mobile-Friendly Websites a Must for Associations

A mobile-optimized website is no longer a nice-to-have. Handheld devices allow you to engage your association members no matter where they are; but only if your site is designed for screens of all types and sizes.

As of April 21, Google factors mobile-friendliness into its search engine rankings. Dubbed Mobilegeddon, Google’s latest algorithm update has so far proven less apocalyptic to the SERPs* than feared. Associations should still take heed.

Not sure if your website is friend or foe? Take Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Now take a moment to view your site on a mobile phone:

  • Do you have to scroll sideways to read lines of text?
  • Is your text legible without having to zoom in?
  • Are images, video and other graphics readily viewable? (Note: Many mobile platforms don’t support Flash video.)
  • Does your site load quickly?

People search and consume Web content on many different platforms. Screen sizes vary among desktops, tablets, phones, and even TVs and wearables. Plus device screen sizes keep changing, so it’s important that your site be able to adapt.

Responsive web design is Google’s recommended design format. It responds to the users’ needs and the devices they use. For example, website content may appear as a single column on a phone, while the same content might appear as two columns on a tablet and three columns on a desktop. To stay top of mind on Google, your site needs to be responsive.

More tips for a mobile-friendly website:

  • Make your site touch-friendly, allowing enough space around actionable items such as buttons, navigation tabs and links to be triggered with a touch of a finger.
  • Avoid mouse-overs. There are no mice with mobile.
  • Use a simple, easy-to-read font between 12 to 16 pixels.
  • Avoid pop-ups, which can be even more obtrusive on a small screen.
  • Maximize speed. Shoot for page load times of 4 seconds or less. Mobile users are on the go, multitasking at a feverish pace and they want their info to keep up.

*For more on SERPs and their importance, see Association Website Strategy Calls for Commitment, Competition and Accountability.

Successful Association Websites

Your website is one of your association’s most important assets. It’s essential to member recruitment, retention and engagement.

Our recent series on retooling your association website covered the most important elements in website strategy and development. Let’s see if you’ve been paying attention. Here’s a brief quiz.

  1. A user-friendly website is more important than your rank on the SERPs. True or False?
  2. What is the single, most important step in your site development? Hint: They’re words.
  3. Should you be targeting only members or everyone on the Web?
  4. One person needs to be held responsible and accountable for your website. True or False?
  5. Content should be reserved for your membership and password-protected. True or False?
  6. Once you reach the top spot on Google, you’re SEO job is done. True or False?
  7. There are some great quick-and-easy resources on the Web to help raise your SEO rank. It just takes a few bucks. True or False?
  8. A site optimized for mobile devices is a nice-to-have, but not essential. True or False?

Now, let’s see how you did.

  1. False. You have to be found first, so you want to dominate the SERPs (search engine results pages). Then reward your visitors with a site that’s easy to navigate.
  2. Identify your primary and secondary keywords. This is how the search engines will find you.
  3. Neither. Most associations have a broad audience, but it’s still targeted. To be recognized as the voice of your industry, target all of your stakeholders, e.g., current and prospective members, the media, and government.
  4. True. One association staff member should be held accountable for website development and ongoing improvement. But it takes a team – SEO expert, writer and a developer – to build and maintain your website.
  5. False. Un-gated content results in better SEO, versus gated content, and helps establish your association as a leader among your broader target audience.
  6. False. Maintaining your rank on the SERPs is an ongoing effort fueled by the right SEO keywords, fresh content, and ongoing improvements. Measure results and adjust.
  7. Absolutely False. There are no shortcuts in SEO. You can’t buy your way to the top. It takes a clear strategy and hard work to get to the top of Google and stay there.
  8. Trick question, we haven’t covered this subject. But it’s a must. Google’s new algorithm may downgrade your site’s ranking if it’s not mobile-ready. (More about this in our next post.)

If you struggled with any of these critical SEO tactics, you might want to revisit this subject. Start with How to Retool Your Association Website for Thought Leadership.