It’s no secret that the use of mobile devices is growing at a staggering rate. Mobile SEO is on the mind of many businesses and website owners. Search Engine Mobile optimization is the process of ensuring that visitors who accessyour site from mobile devices have an experience optimized for thedevice. Google’s latest focus on mobile-friendly search should really come as no surprise, as every year people spend more and more time glued to theirsmartphones, tablets, and now their wearable devices. What’s more of asurprise, is that many businesses waited until now to begin optimizingtheir online practices, content, and websites for the mobile explosion.
What is Mobile Optimization?
Every year people spend more and more time on their mobiledevices and tablets, but many websites still aren’t designed to accountfor different screen sizes and load times. Mobile optimization takes alook at site design, site structure, page speed, and more to make sureyou’re not inadvertently turning mobile visitors away. (source: Moz.com)
Why Is Mobile SEO Important for my Business?
Before you decide how important mobile is to your business you’llwant to take a step back and do a little research using Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to answer the following questions: (read google mobile seo ranking factors)
- What % of traffic to the website on a mobile device, and how much of that is from organic search?
- What pages are being served for mobile searches?
- What are the engagement statistics for mobile visitors?
- How do the engagement metrics for mobile compare to the desktop visits?
You may have a low volume of mobile traffic because your demographicdoesn’t use mobile devices to search or it could be that your productsand services aren’t something people conduct mobile searches for.
Don’t jump to conclusions about the traffic and write off the need to optimize your mobile web presence, take a look at the mobileexperience. If it’s bad, you may have simply trained your customers notto visit you on a smart phone or tablet. If your download speeds areslow or Google sees a lot of pogo sticking (clicking on a search resultand coming right back to the search page) your site may be downgradedand not showing up in mobile search results.
Mobile-Friendly Website SEO Best Practices
The following are mobile-friendly SEO best practices andconsiderations to keep in mind while optimizing your website and content for mobile. Take note that not all of these elements are correct forevery business; you should focus on the tactics that best align with the current state of your mobile efforts.
Page Speed matters
Downloadspeed is a ranking factor. More importantly, if your pages don’tdownload quickly (especially on mobile) no one is going sit around andwait for them. They will quickly move on to the next link in the searchresults.
Go Responsive and Don’t Look Back
I have been a major proponent of building all websites as mobile responsive for several years now.What does this mean? A mobile responsive website senses the screendimensions of the device fetching the content and adjusts how thewebsite is displayed based on those dimensions. Check out the Return On Now website on a standard browser and see how it morphs when you change the viewwithin the browser window. This is how responsive websites typicallyoperate.
There are really only two other viable options for mobile sites –dynamic websites that serve up different content on different platforms, or separate mobile websites that require you to manage multiple webproperties. Both of these are problematic for various reasons.
Dynamic websites, while good for user experience, can become aproblem if they serve up different content to search engine spiders than they do for other users. Any good SEO will tell you that this is aticket to being labeled a spammer. No one wants that label placed ontheir website.
As for separate mobile websites, those come with a great deal ofoverhead. Basically, it is the equivalent of signing up for twice thework in areas such as design, UX, SEO, and copy-writing.
It’s hard enough building and ranking a single website, so why in the world would you voluntarily opt to double that work? The easy, andsmart answer, is to simply go to responsive and move on.
In the old days, some mobile devices couldn’t support all of these elements, so webmasters of mobile sites blocked one or all three. But for the most part that’s no longer true, and the SmartphoneGoogleBot wants to be able to see and categorize the same content thatusers do. So don’t hide it. These elements are also critical to helpingGoogle understand if you have a responsive site or a different mobilesolution.
When itcomes to mobile, less is more. Show people only what they need to knowand give them the ability to look at the main website if needed.
Don’t use Flash
The plugin may not be available on your user’s phone, whichmeans they’ll miss out on all the fun. If you want to create specialeffects, use HTML5 instead. Flash is becoming more and more outdated as we speak and still cannot be rendered on many mobile devices. Any elements that disregard the needsof your visitors or alienate a particular mobile device should beremoved.
Don’t use pop-ups either
It can be difficult and frustrating to try and close these on a mobile device. This might lead to a high bounce rate. These can be a nightmare for a mobile user. Some pop-ups can be verydifficult to close on a small screen which can cause frustration for the visitor, not to mention, slow them down when they are trying to findtheir answers. Proceed with caution when using these elements on mobile.
Track Mobile Keywords
Track your mobile SEO keywords by adjusting the search query settings inGoogle Webmaster Tools and documenting the keywords that are trendingfor your site. If it’s your first time using Webmaster Tools, note thatit can take a few days to incorporate your website’s data and begintracking your keywords.
Focus on User Experience across Platforms
User Experience (UX) has become an accepted piece of website designand development in recent years. But the UX is completely different ondifferent platforms.
When building your responsive website, always keep in mind thatmobile users are on smaller phones and must interact with it via atouchscreen. This is completely different than using a mouse on adesktop or laptop computer.
Spacing matters, as does layout, flow and several other factors. Ifyou aren’t familiar with best of breed cross-platform UX, bring insomeone who is. You’ll be glad you did in the end.
Optimize for local search
If your business has a local element, remember to optimize your mobile content for local search. When optimizing for mobile, local should factor in heavily on yourapproach. Local Mobile SEO impacts the seven pack and other off-site listings,but those listings are in turn impacted by how you represent yourlocation both on the website and on the search engine local directories(e.g. Google MyBusiness).
Mobile users are shown results that are geographically close to thelocation where they search. Be sure your mobile site is indexed at theproper location. You can influence this heavily in several ways,including semantic markup for location.
Ultimate Tools Checklist for Mobile SEO
When determining which mobile SEO strategies will work best for yourbusiness, it is important to research a variety of sources and gather as much information as possible prior to creating any new initiatives. The following is a checklist of some top-notch resources to help youfurther dive into the mobile SEO strategies presented in this article.
Mobile Testing Tools
Read This Guide: 10 Best Free Mobile SEO Tools For Small Business
- Google Mobile-Friendly Checker — This quick test allows you to gain insight into how Google views your mobile content and offers suggestions on how to improve any errors.
- FeedTheBot SEO Test — This comprehensive guide offers an in-depth tool to diagnosis anymobile-friendly issues that you may have and includes actionable how-toarticles on correcting your mobile SEO issues. In addition, the siteincludes detailed analysis on a variety of mobile SEO functions.
- Google SEO Test — Google has compiled this guide to help you understand how toconfigure your site for multiple devices, inform the search engines ofyour mobile presence, and help you avoid some common mistakes whileimplementing.
Tips for Successful Mobile SEO Strategy in Brief:
- Successful mobile SEO strategy involves re-purposing your site, notsimply making it smaller. Allow your user to find their desiredinformation as quick as possible (and think about what that informationis!), without having to sift through unnecessary information.
- It is generally accepted that mobile users type shorter key phrasesinto Google. Keep your meta-tags short and relevant to match therequest. (Read this Simple guide to use perfect Meta Tags for mobile SEO)
- Understand the intent of your users – mobiles are ideal forinformation searches, though apps may be more beneficial for repeat-useproducts.
- Most mobile users are directed to, or on their way to, social sites. Keep your social links prominent on your mobile front page forpotential engagement with new users.
- Avoid a reliance on outdated content modes like Adobe Flash andpop-up ads – the data reliance and sheer frustration these can bringwill drive away customers quickly.
- Keep in mind the average fingerprint is 11mm wide, so design your buttons accordingly
There’s a lot to mobile SEO, but hopefullythis list of tips has given you some good ideas about how to get started and how to apply it to your website even if you’re not trying to drive International andlocal traffic. If you follow these simple five strategies, you will be on top of your mobile traffic in short order.
Good luck to mobile-optimization!