Writing Tip: How to Increase Google Traffic from Smartphones

My HubPages Profile as displayed on a Mobile Device.
My HubPages Profile as displayed on a Mobile Device.

In February 2015 Google announced that it is important to make sites mobile-friendly. If it fails the test it can reduce the number of times our hubs appear in search results of mobile users.

I received an important message on my Google Webmaster Tools warning me to fix mobile usability issues found on my Author Site.

The warning explained that pages on my site “would not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”

I studied the tutorials Google provided {1} to reprogram my site to work well for all screen sizes.


This is the test result stating that my Author Site is now mobile-friendly. I ran this test on every page.
This is the test result stating that my Author Site is now mobile-friendly. I ran this test on every page. | Source
 
So how does all this relate to HubPages?


Okay, so I’m an HTML programmer and maintain my own site. However, with HubPages it’s easier. You don't need to be a web programmer.

HubPages already makes our hubs somewhat mobile-friendly.

The keyword is “somewhat.” There is still a lot we can do to make our hubs more mobile-friendly and thereby attract more mobile traffic. The things I found that needed further attention were hubs with overuse of two columns and incorrect placement of right-column images. I'll explain how to fix those in the next section.

Making our hubs mobile-friendly helps for one major reason. If mobile users leave quickly because they can’t read our hub, over time Google will send less traffic. Just as they alluded to in their warning about my Author Site, our pages won’t appear in the SERPs as often on mobile devices.


HubPages Blogged About This


Based on a recent HP blog {2} about mobile traffic, I’ve been editing hubs to have a better reader experience on mobile devices.

I also monitor my traffic to see how many mobile users read my hubs. Google Analytics is useful for that info. Results may vary each hubber, based on what kind of audience you attract.

I recommend that everyone should view how his or her hubs look on a smartphone. You can do that by using the HubTool to edit a hub, then click “Preview”, and select “Mobile Preview.”

Previewing in the HubTool does not change the last modified date. If you don’t make any changes, the date will not change.


How to Improve Hubs to be Mobile-Friendly


Since our Hubs only display with one column on the small screens of mobile phones, image and text capsules on the right column fall in-line with the left column. If not positioned properly, it may appear in the wrong place and confuse the reader who is using a mobile phone.

When I see a problem, I make changes to my hubs to display better on mobile phones.


Overuse of Two Columns

It’s usually just a matter of avoiding two columns. However, I like to keep a right-handed column for desktop visitors. Other things can be done to avoid problems with the right column content falling in the wrong place on mobile devices.


Incorrect Placement of Right-column Images

The trick is to place the right-column capsule to align it with the left capsule in such a way that it still makes sense when it is viewed in-line with the left-column content.

If you see one of your images or text suddenly is in an unexpected place when in mobile view, you need to fix it so that the right-hand capsule falls between the appropriate text when in a single-line view. You can to this in three simple steps:

  1. Add an extra text capsule to split up the text.
  2. Move the appropriate text into the additional capsule.
  3. Now move the right-hand capsule next to that new text capsule.

Then view the results in mobile preview. If done right, the tight-hand image or text should appear above that specific text capsule that you just created.

Here is a mobile preview sample from one of my hubs. Notice how I was careful to use a subheading on the image that also worked well inline with the article when displayed in a single column.


Mobile preview example from a hub of mine.
Mobile preview example from a hub of mine. | Source


It’s also important to include meaningful text in the image’s caption, text that will make sense to the reader when read sequentially with the rest of your article.

This is because that caption text will fall inline in the same column as the rest of the hub’s text on a mobile device, as you can see in the example above.



How to Prioritize Your Efforts


Concentrate on fixing the high traffic hubs first, especially if they are not getting much traffic from mobile. That's where the best reward for your efforts will be. Editing hubs that don't get much traffic will take much longer to show positive results since Google isn't paying much attention to them.

If you’re not using Google Analytics, it’s time you do. Start by reviewing your report under “Audience > Mobile > Overview” and see how many readers you have - itemized by mobile, desktop and tablet devices.


Google Analytics Mobile Device Report showing breakdown of traffic by desktop, mobile and tablet devices.
Google Analytics Mobile Device Report showing breakdown of traffic by desktop, mobile and tablet devices. | Source


Now change the date range and compare the most resent 30-day period to a 30-day period of about a year ago. (Note that if you just started using Google Analytics, you’ll only have prior data up to the date you began collecting data).

Based on the results comparing the results of a year ago with the present, do you see a drop in mobile users?

If so, you need to work on your hubs to make them more mobile-friendly. HubPages already did their part with page formatting. Since we have control over our own layout, it’s up to us to perfect it.

Next step...

Preview any of your own hubs in mobile preview. I guarantee you’ll immediately see things you can change to improve results for your mobile readers. Remember to pay attention to position of capsule titles as well as captions on images. When everything is in a single column, these things need to make sense to the reader based on where they appear.

Anything that loses a reader or causes him or her to lose focus will ultimately hurt the ranking of a hub. Readers will click away as soon as they run into trouble with following the logic of the presentation. It's up to us to make sure our hubs are presented in the best way possible on all types of media. HubPages makes this easy with the "Mobile Preview" in the HubTool. Make use of it.


© 2015 Glenn Stok

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Comments 24 comments

lady rain profile image

lady rain 20 months ago from Australia

Some of my hubs are not mobile friendly, now I know how to make them display better on mobiles. Very useful information indeed.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 20 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

lady rain - I found many of mine that needed mobile-friendly changes of the type I discussed. Glad you found this useful.


Country-Sunshine profile image

Country-Sunshine 20 months ago from Texas

I have checked my author site, and knew it needed a lot of work. It didn't occur to me to check Analytics for my Hubs. Thanks for the great information... I imagine all of us will benefit from your article!


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 20 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Country-Sunshine - That's great that you have an author site too. I tried to find it but you don't include it in your links on your HP profile. If you use it as a reference to your articles like I do, then you may want to include it as your main point of contact. Thanks for the positive remarks about this hub.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 20 months ago from Queensland Australia

Hi Glenn, thanks for the helpful info. I need to go through my hubs especially the older ones and check out the mobile view to make sure they read ok. Voted up.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 20 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Jodah - Go through your best performing hubs first. They have the best chance of benefiting from mobile friendliness. Thanks for the vote up.


mary615 profile image

mary615 20 months ago from Florida

Since we received that notice from HP, I have been checking my Hubs just to see how they look on a mobile device. I had to move some photos.

I don't use G. Analytic, but I know I should. Thanks for the reminder.

Voted UP, and certainly shared with others to read.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 20 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hi Glen - Thanks for the info in this hub. I checked out one of my hubs on mobile, and it did pretty well. I did what others on site are doing, and putting text capsule first followed by photo. The first text capsule tells what hub is about. I really like it. I need to check out some of your hubs again. You give good information. Pinning. Blessings, Audrey


MsDora profile image

MsDora 20 months ago from The Caribbean

Thank you for sharing this important bit of information. Very thoughtful of you, too. Many readers now won't read any other way but mobile.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 20 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

mary615 - That's great that you are being proactive with your hubs. Thanks for the vote up and the share.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 20 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

brakel2 - Yes. An introduction followed by a full-width image reproduces well on mobile. Thanks for the positive remarks Audrey. And thanks for pinning.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 20 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

MsDora - That definitely is the trend. I see the mobile audience growing in my Google Analytics reports. Thanks for stopping by.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 20 months ago from Dallas, Texas

Good information on checking our mobile statistics. Mine are still low for mobile use but I imagine that will change in the future. Thanks for the insight.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 20 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

PegCole17 - Traffic may be low from mobile for either of two reasons. (1) One's niche tends to attract desktop readers. (2) One's hubs don't display well on mobile devices. You can determine if number (2) is the reason by viewing your hubs in mobile preview.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 20 months ago from USA

This is very helpful Glenn. My mobile use has gone up, but of course I'd like all of the traffic to go up!


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 20 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Millionaire Tips - Glad your efforts with making your hubs mobile friendly is working to increase your mobile traffic. Don't worry so much if desktop traffic is not increasing - the overall average is decreasing as more people use mobile devices. When I compare my traffic from the first quarter two years ago to the first quarter of this year, I see an increase in mobile readers over desktop.


Jacobb9205 profile image

Jacobb9205 19 months ago from Gloucestershire

Ahh I never thought about how my hub would look like on a mobile device, thank you!


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 19 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Jacobb9205 - It's important now more than ever to make sure everything we write on the Internet is mobile friendly. Google just started using that in its ranking algorithm. HubPages does a lot towards that end, but as I mentioned in this hub, there are still many things we need to consider as we format our hubs.


Jacobb9205 profile image

Jacobb9205 19 months ago from Gloucestershire

Glenn Stok, Indeed, I completely agree. I don't know anyone really who doesn't use their phones most of the day. Ahh awesome! Ahh ok.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 19 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Jacobb9205 - I'm noticing the same that most people use their phones to search. And Google Analytics shows that detail too. Thanks for your comment on that.


enamateur profile image

enamateur 19 months ago

Awesome hub. Mobile site friendliness is becoming ubiquitous all over the web now, and it makes sense since almost all of our devices are portable now.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 19 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

This is a very useful hub for all Hubpage authors who have forgotten the great number of mobile readers we have. Thanks for sharing the information in this hub.


Supuni Fernando profile image

Supuni Fernando 18 months ago from Colombo, Sri Lanka

Most of the users read hubs through mobiles, and this article is very useful to us authors. And yes Google Analytics is a great tool for keeping up to date with your hub statistics.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 18 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Thank you all, Jacobb9205, enamateur, Paul Kuehn, and Supuni Fernando, for your confirmation about the increasing use of mobile devices.

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