Mobile SEO involves priority on optimizing your website for visitors who access it on a mobile device. This includes tasks like ensuring the site runs smoothly on all smartphones and tablets, has a mobile-friendly design, and looks great on all devices.
Doing this ensures every user has a good experience on your website no matter which mobile device they access it with.
It also makes you visible to a wider pull of mobile users since your website will be visible in the search results depending on how well you have configured it.
Why is Mobile SEO Important?
Much like the internet, SEO is constantly evolving, which means we need to be fluid in how we approach it. If SEO priorities change, so too should our website priorities.
We now know that more than half of all Google searches are happening on a mobile device, and at the end of the day, SEO is all about getting in front of as many consumers as possible.
So as less and less people sit down at a computer to access the internet, it’s understandable that the focus of SEO is moving into a mobile-first world.
Yet, while smartphone usage continues to command an ever-growing share of the internet searches, tons of websites have yet to optimize their experience for mobile users.
If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website it could cost you big time.
What is Mobile-First Indexing?
Mobile-first indexing is the practice of Google and other search engines primarily using the mobile version of content for indexing and ranking web pages.
It was originally introduced in 2018 when Google announced that it had begun migrating websites that followed its mobile-first best practices.
Google had previously hinted that it began making the transition to mobile-first indexing prior to the announcement (as early as 2015), but the release was Google’s first official mention of the transition.
Until then, Google’s systems typically used desktop versions of a webpage’s content to crawl, index, and rank a page. This led to occasional issues for mobile searchers when the desktop and mobile versions vastly differed.
As a result, Google began using the mobile version of a page for indexing and ranking to make it easier for mobile users to find what they’re looking for.
What Makes a Site Mobile-Friendly?
With Google now fully committed to mobile-first indexing, it’s important to understand what makes a website mobile-friendly in a mobile-first world.
If your site is not mobile-friendly, it can be difficult to use, view, or even access. So what makes a site mobile-friendly?
A website that is mobile-friendly has to meet the following specifications:
Is responsive to the size of the screen so that users do not have to scroll horizontally to see full sentences.
Avoids use of software that is not common with mobile phones. An example of such software is Flash.
Places links far enough apart so that they are easy to tap without requiring users to zoom in on the content.
Uses text that is easy to read without one having to zoom in on the screen.
How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile SEO
Now that you know what mobile-first indexing is and how mobile SEO can influence your position in search engines result pages (SERPs), we’ll cover several of the best ways you can optimize your website for mobile SEO.
Before jumping into boosting your site’s mobile SEO, the first step is to check how mobile-friendly your website currently is. Luckily, this is easy to do thanks to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.
Create Consistent Content
We will cover other tactics, but ultimately, the best mobile SEO strategy is to have the same content across mobile and desktop versions of pages.
Google wants your content to be the same. When it is, you don’t have to worry about what content is being indexed or ranked.
Keep Site Design and User Experience Mobile-Friendly
If you’re honing in on your mobile SEO, you want to make sure your site has a mobile-friendly design and smooth user experience.
When working on site design, there are a few simple rules to follow to make sure you are keeping mobile in mind:
Don’t use Flash. Flash is not available on all smartphones and devices which means if you use it some customers might not see your site. If you want to create special effects, use HTML5 instead.
Make navigation easy. Users don’t want to scroll all day to find information or struggle to get back to the homepage. Utilize menus, keeping them short and sweet to make it easy for users to find what they need, and make sure when users click your logo it takes them back to the homepage.
Pop-ups and promotions can be annoying and difficult to navigate on a mobile device. This might lead to a high bounce rate. Your best bet is to leave them out altogether.
Design for bigger fingers. Touch screen navigation may easily lead to accidental clicks if your website buttons are too large, too small, or in the way of a finger that’s trying to scroll a page. Account for users with large fingers when designing your site.
Make site search visible. Most users looking for information on a website will turn to search, so the search bar should be easy to find. Keep your search bar visible and don’t hide your search box in a menu.
Double-check font size. Some mobile devices have smaller screens than others. Be sure to check your fonts and font sizes to confirm they look good on all mobile screens.
Use clear CTAs
A call-to-action (CTA) makes it clear to your users what their next step should be. When designing CTAs for mobile sites, make sure that they stand out by making them easy-to-find and large enough to easily click.
Following these design guidelines will keep your website looking awesome no matter what device users access it with.
An easy way to stick to these guidelines is to use responsive web design to design your pages.
Pages with a responsive design use the same code and URL whether on a desktop or a mobile device. The only thing that should change is the display to adjust for the screen size of the gadget being used.
Improve Load Times
A surefire way to lose traffic is to serve up a slow site.
Mobile users are often searching for information on the go and they want it quick. If your website takes too long to load, chances are, people probably aren’t going to wait around for it to finish.
If you want to retain those users, focus on improving your site’s load speed. You can use the free Google PageSpeed Insights tool to examine your site’s speeds and see what areas need improvement.
Optimize Your Local SEO
Since we know that nearly half of all Google searches are local, getting the most out of your mobile SEO means optimizing your local SEO as well.
Much as mobile SEO focuses on optimizing your website for mobile devices, local SEO involves optimizing your website’s online presence to draw more traffic from relevant local search engine queries.
Utilizing local SEO best practices is a great way to effectively promote your business in the communities you serve face-to-face.
Now, more than ever, it’s essential to make it easy for customers to find you when doing relevant local searches.
A recent Bright Local survey found that 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year. On top of that, 34% of those same people searched every day.
Getting the most out of your mobile SEO should definitely incorporate time to shore up your local SEO as well.
Don’t Forget Titles and Meta Descriptions
A mobile device means less screen space for your web page. Not only does content need to be short and concise, so do titles and meta descriptions.
To give yourself the best shot at showing up in the SERPs, keeps URLs, titles and meta descriptions short and to the point.
Create a Mobile URL
An additional option for site admins is to create a second site for mobile visitors using separate URLs. Doing this gives you the option to create custom content just for mobile devices.
Typically, most parallel mobile sites use an “m” subdomain to avoid any URL confusion.
When using separate mobile URLs, you will need to set up any necessary redirects and use canonical tags to prevent duplicate content issues.
Mobile SEO is an essential tool for growing your business online. If you want to get the most out of your website’s SEO, you should place a priority on optimizing it for mobile users.
Making mobile SEO an integral part of your SEO strategy is an effective tactic for reaching the customers in the communities you serve and promoting your business to the people that matter most.