Optimizing for mobile is a necessity. The rise in popularity of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, is shifting the landscape of search and user experience from a world confined to desktops to one that favors a responsive, flexible experience. With a generation of users becoming accustomed to browsing the web and performing searches no matter where they are, major players like Google are doing their part to ensure that the greatest number of users can have a fully satisfying mobile experience.
What that means for webmasters is that Google is rewarding sites that offer a mobile experience, and punishing those that do not. Mobile-optimized sites get a ranking boost compared to their desktop-only counterparts, especially when accessed via a mobile device, so simply ensuring your site is mobile-optimized is a sure step in the right direction for more online visibility. Add to that the idea that not all sites are mobile-friendly and your users will value you for giving them one, and you’ll have an additional leg up on your competition.
If you haven’t already taken measures to ensure that your site is optimized for mobile experiences, it’s time to do so. If you don’t, you’ll officially be behind the ball. Fortunately, these five fantastic WordPress plugins are invaluable for taking your site to the next level:
WPtouch is a plugin currently used by 5.5 million different blogs. While you can’t judge the usefulness of an app simply by its popularity, the amount of recognition it has garnered is well received. WPtouch is the self-proclaimed “complete mobile solution for WordPress,” and is compatible with virtually any type of mobile device.
With WPtouch, you’ll be able to choose a responsive WPtouch theme, which tends to run about four times faster than comparable responsive sites with touch enhancements. Furthermore, the WPtouch plugin features something called an “infinity cache,” which works to cache your mobile site on mobile devices, which will make your site even faster when accessed via mobile. The faster your site is, the happier your users will be—and you’ll get a ranking boost as well.
The only potential downside of WPtouch is that, unlike the majority of WordPress plugins, it is not free to use. The basic version of WPtouch is $49, though there are more advanced versions of the plugin available, with a host of other features.
Jetpack is a single plugin that can help you optimize your site for mobile, and make other tweaks that enhance site performance and allow you to improve both SEO and user experience. The Jetpack plugin comes with 33 distinct special features, attempting to be a catch-all that can help you improve multiple different dimensions of your site performance.
As one of the primary selling points of the plugin, Jetpack offers a mobile theme that you can use to make your WordPress site responsive, which will ensure that both desktop and mobile users have a similarly great experience when attempting to view your site. You can also customize your Jetpack responsive theme, so long as you’re familiar with CSS and bit PHP.
In addition to its mobile-optimization functionality, Jetpack sports a number of verification and site enhancement tools. For example, the “photon” functionality will increase your site speed, and another feature can integrate directly with your social profiles.
Best of all, Jetpack is completely free to download and use. Despite its many features, it’s a relatively easy plugin to learn, so if you’re not confident in your abilities, it’s a nice beginner platform to experiment with.
WP Mobile is an option for any webmasters who want to forgo the responsive style of web design in favor of converting your website into a mobile version. In a responsive site design, one web layout will adjust based on what type of device is accessing it. In this style, separate desktop and mobile versions exist, and users will have the ability to toggle between the two based on their preferences. From a search engine perspective, Google doesn’t care how you make your site mobile-optimized—responsive and mobile-specific designs are treated with equal weight. However, you may find a user experience advantage in one over the other, depending on your core audience.
The WP Mobile plugin features a straightforward mobile theme, which is simple and easy to load, keeping your loading times well within your comfort zone. The adaptation feature of the app also auto-detects the device being used to access the site, so it automatically loads the appropriate version while still giving users the option to switch if necessary. It even comes with mobile advertising settings, which are optional, in case you want to pursue that route. The plugin is free to download and use, so if you want a mobile-exclusive version of your site—have at it!
The WP Mobile Detector doesn’t have quite as many features as some of its competitors, but it’s a perfect fit for some businesses who only need a convenient way of detecting which users are accessing their site from a standard mobile phone or a smartphone. If you’re in a business where a sizeable portion of your audience is still using traditional mobile phones, it could be extremely useful.
With this plugin, your site will be able to automatically detect the type of device being used to access it, and will load an appropriate theme based on that information. It also features an integrated analytics platform, which can help you identify your audience’s makeup and behavior, and seven pre-loaded mobile themes that you can use to ensure your site is properly optimized for mobile without compromising your brand standards.
Like WPtouch, WP Mobile Detector is not free. The basic version of the plugin is $50, with more features and greater functionality attributed to the premium version, which is a bit more expensive.
Last but not least is a plugin that comes from WordPress itself. The WordPress Mobile Pack 2.0 exists to help you consolidate your website and provide a similar experience across any platform, any operating system, and most importantly, any device. It has full compatibility with all the major players in the web world, and allows you to convert your website into a responsive format.
The plugin also comes with its very own custom theme, which features six abstract covers and plenty of customizable options to ensure that the theme becomes your own. Like the WP Mobile Detector, it also has a fully integrated analytics platform, which allows you to track your user behavior and regularly measure your site’s performance. It’s a simple, easy-to-use application that can help almost anyone optimize his/her WordPress site for a mobile experience. The plugin is free to download and use.
Optimizing for mobile is a one-time responsibility, and with these WordPress plugins, it’s an almost painless one. Giving your users the option of accessing your site via desktop or mobile devices is a must in the modern era, and ensuring that the experience is seamless no matter what device is used to access it will ensure that your customers keep coming back for more. If your site isn’t currently optimized for mobile, download one of these plugins, and get moving. Your customers will thank you.