The evolution of the internet has completely changed our expectations of service and accessibility. SEO used to be about optimising the desktop website. People have the entire web at their fingertips and expect instant gratification. Our attention spans are smaller than ever, and we are attached to our smartphones, which is why mobile SEO is critical to the success of your company.
Google in their numerous studies about mobile devices has indicated that mobile is the future.It obviously makes sense to focus your search engine optimisation to account for success in mobile devices. Mobile SEO is changing the landscape for a lot of businesses that have traditionally focussed on desktop searches.
Businesses used to be able to get away with having two versions of their websites; a complete desktop version and a stripped down mobile version. Times have changed and not only does your mobile presence have to have all of the bells and whistles of your desktop version, but it also has to load with lightning speed.
Ignore the changing times, and you risk being penalised by Google. Search engine optimisation and staying competitive in Google’s Page Rankings is critical to whether your business succeeds or fails. Fortunately, navigating the brave new world of mobile SEO is easy if you take the following steps. This guide will tell you everything you need to know to stay competitive and excel at mobile search engine optimisation.
Mobile SEO refers to how well your website performs on smartphones according to Google’s bots. Google crawls your site and ranks it based on many different factors. When you focus on mobile SEO, you are making your mobile presence better so that Google will rank you higher based on how your business appears on devices like tablets and smartphones.
Most of the same rules apply, as when you are optimising for your desktop, but there are some variations that we will get into. Just as with your desktop presence, you will want to make sure that all of your metadata is filled out, your content is crisp and compelling and your website visually appealing. White space is especially valuable when it comes to mobile SEO. You do not want anyone to have to pinch or squint to see your content. Make your information clear, bold and easily accessed and understood.
Why Is Mobile SEO Important
Mobile SEO is critical because Google will start looking at your mobile website as the primary internet presence for your company (more on that later), and because so many people are accessing the internet on their smartphones. Gone are the days that people use their phones primarily for making phone calls.
Since 2016 mobile usage has been regularly surpassing desktop usage, meaning that when people want to browse the internet, they are not firing up their laptops, they are opening the internet browser on their smartphones. There are many more smartphone searches than laptop searches an astounding fact when you consider that most people spend their entire work day in front of a desktop or laptop.
On the other hand, this statistic makes perfect sense considering how tethered we are to our smartphones. They are generally the first thing we look at in the morning and the last screen that goes dim at night. We scroll through Facebook while waiting in the grocery line and use them to look up facts throughout the day. They are a huge part of our day, always ready in our back pockets. It is estimated that more than 40% users find booking an airfare on their mobile user-friendly.
People are doing more than checking out cute cat videos on YouTube or jumping on Facebook with their smartphones. They are doing the majority of their internet shopping from mobile devices. Shopping phenomenon is especially true around the holidays when people do the majority of their shopping from mobile devices.
Given the amount of time people are spending browsing the web or making purchases on their smartphones and tablets, it’s even more crucial to put a lot of energy into mobile SEO. If your customers or potential clients have a negative experience with your mobile website, they will not give you a second chance. There is way too much competition in today’s world.
Google’s Mobile-First Index
Your customer experience is a significant and essential part of the puzzle, but it is by far not the only reason that you need to make sure you have your mobile SEO bases covered.
The surge in mobile usage has not gone unnoticed by Google, who has been making steps in the recent years to hold mobile websites in the same, or higher regard than desktop ones. It makes total sense. As the world’s dominant search engine, Google needs to provide its customers with the top choices for the categories they are looking for.
Just as your customers have plenty of options in your industry, Google has competitors too. If they start promoting or elevating subpar websites, people could flee to places like Bing. As such, Google stays one step ahead of the game, hence their mobile-first initiative.
Mobile-first is pretty self-explanatory. Google will look at the mobile version of your website before your desktop version, and give substantially more weight to the former. Google’s practice of looking at mobile first does not mean that if you don’t have a mobile-friendly version that you will be entirely out of the running. Google will still crawl your desktop website, but you will be penalized for not having a mobile site.
If you have not yet grasped the importance of mobile SEO, this is your canary in the coal mine. Google has made a prominent step to promoting websites that have good mobile versions because they understand that this is how the tide is turning.
Don’ts To Avoid
Don’t have two versions of your website. Such practice used to be the way things optimisation years ago but is no longer considered a smart way to operate. Make your site responsive (conforms to all devices) and you
Don’t use flash. It doesn’t work on mobile devices and will make your website look bad.
Don’t try to cram too much text on one page. White space is your friend, so use it wisely.
A Note On Responsive Design
As stated earlier, it was once common practice for people to have two versions of their website. If your site was built this way, make sure that you focus more heavily on the mobile version from now on. It should be optimised to be SEO friendly and contain all of the same information as on your desktop version. Google has also been pushing the AMP project with a dedicated AMP link in the webmaster console.
If you are building your website, or if your site is automatically responsive you are in luck.
Mobile SEO And What It Impacts
Mobile SEO and desktop SEO have many things in common. To be successful with both, you need to have engaging and informational content that makes you look like a leader in your industry. You need to have clear calls to action and make sure that all of your metadata is correctly filled out. There are, however, some differences when it comes to mobile SEO.
How Keywords Are Different For Mobile SEO
Let’s start with the building blocks of search engine optimisation; keywords. Mobile keywords are a little bit different from your standard desktop keywords because people use mobile devices in a way that they do not use desktops. We will go through the specifics. If you want to check how good your keywords are, utilize a tool like SEMRush to check their relevance.
Mobile Keywords Need To Be Shorter
Tiny keyboards do not lend themselves so well to typing long strings of words, so mobile keywords should generally be shorter than your standard keywords. Forget long-tail variations and stick to words that are only two or three words long. A lot of people end up using autosuggestion and hitting the closest match on mobile.
Optimise Mobile Keywords For Location
Location, location, location! When you are choosing mobile keywords, you need to remember that people are probably searching for these words on the go and will be more likely to pop in a location especially for searches that relate to convenience items or nearby locations. Try to put locations in your mobile keywords and you will certainly reap the rewards. Google specifically shows locations based tags on pages that carry a local intent. Bing and others are following suit by showing locations based results or SERPs.
Mobile Keywords Need To Keep Voice Command In Mind
How many people use voice command on their desktops or laptops? It is probably pretty negligible. Flip that statistic on its head, and you have the voice command usage for mobile devices. Most people talk to their smartphones as opposed to typing into them, which is why you need to keep voice command in mind when you are choosing mobile friendly keywords. When people talk to their smartphones, they are generally asking questions, so why not frame your keywords as questions?
Google has been investing heavily on Voice search specifically regional voice searches.
How Mobile Is Revolutionalizing E-Commerce Transactions
Your potential customers are not just using their mobile devices to conduct searches; they are buying tons of products with them! Mobile is a massive force behind online retail. The idea that you can reach your potential clients through their smartphones is fascinating but can be damaging to your business if your page load speed is not up to par.
Since online stores have tons of different products and pages to scroll through it is more important that your store be functional rather than pretty, which is why AMP is a good choice. AMP pares down your store and prioritises speed and functionality over design. Your customers can find what they are looking for quickly and efficiently, which will wind up driving your sales in the long run. Although AMP is still a little controversial for all of your web pages because you could sacrifice design, it is well taking a look at for your online store.
Mobile SEO and Page Speed
Remember the bad old days of the internet where it took forever to load a single page? You would have to wait for minutes, maybe even half an hour, for the page to manifest. We all just accepted it as the way it goes, but that was back then. Today people expect instant gratification and they will flee to your competitors if you make them wait for their content. It is not an exaggeration to say that the speed of your mobile presence can make or break your business. It is critical that your load times are good.
This is not just true for retaining your customers. Google also looks at your page speed and will penalize you if it is not up to their standards. You will get the double whammy of losing customers because they are frustrated and having Google smack you down in the rankings.
You can browse to Behaviour > Site Speed > Speed Suggestions
There are plenty of things that could be slowing down your website. Do you have huge data directories that are taking forever to load? Compress the files in order to load your website more efficiently. The same is true for big pictures. Preferably use a CDN to serve big pictures. That perfect shot might look good in theory, but if it takes minutes to materialize on a screen, you will lose customers. Make sure you’re automatically caching your website. Google recommends that your mobile site load in a second or less, so dump the dead weight and you will see a substantial improvement in Google rankings and customer satisfaction.
Checking the speed of your website is one of the easiest things you can do. There are plenty of online tools, but this is one of the best ones.
You should also make sure that your website is user-friendly. You can do that by checking here, You will be required to verify that you own the website, which is a relatively simple process. It is better to know right away if there are any issues with your website so you can solve them immediately.
General Mobile SEO Tips
You have your keywords all set, your page speed is up to par, and your website is totally responsive. What are you missing?
Make Your Calls To Action And Navigation Bars Easy To Use
Even if your website is totally mobile friendly, what looks good on a desktop can translate to a tiny button on your smartphone. If you want your customers to do something; contact you, check out your online store, read your latest blog post or sign up for a tutorial, you have to make those buttons big and bold. The very last thing you want your potential customers to do is to have to pinch and squint to see these crucial buttons. Make them smartphone friendly.
Ensure you keep an eye out on the Google webmaster console for mobile issues. Check Webmaster tools > Search Appearance > HTML improvements
Use Social Media Buttons
There is no reason that you should not have social media buttons on all of your articles and blog posts, especially since it is so easy to add them to any page. Social media buttons allow your customers to easily share your posts across the board, giving you greater visibility and driving more traffic to your website. If you use WordPress, you can install free plugins like Sumo or Mashshare that will install buttons automatically on all of your posts. Simply install and activate the plugin and you have given your audience a whole new way to spread your message.
Make Sure Your Mobile Site Does Not Have Pop-Ups
Nothing is more annoying than trying to read an article and getting bombarded with pop-ups. Make sure that your mobile website is not spammy by cutting down or eliminating pop-ups. This is not only important to your user experience, Google will punish you for having too many pop-ups. When it comes to crafting your online presence, think of what your customers would want. More than likely, it is not a million pop-ups flying at them when they click on your website.
Stay Away From Automatically Playing Videos
You might want to have video content on your mobile presence, like your newest tutorial or a customer testimonial. That is a good thing. What is not such a good thing is if this content starts automatically playing the moment that your potential client clicks on your website. Let the customer decide if they want to watch your video. It is also a good idea to limit the amount of video content that you have on your mobile presence Video content counts as rich content, which takes a lot longer to load than other types. If it comes down to featuring a super cool video or keeping your page load speeds at the Google suggested time, err on the side of the Google suggested a time.
Make Sure That Your Design Is User-Friendly And Attractive
Just because you can use tons of different graphics does not mean that you have to. Gone are the days where the best websites were loaded up with tons of colourful graphics. Today, sleek and user-friendly is in, and this has never been truer than with mobile. Mobile design is an area that your end-users (customers) and Google will pay very close attention to. Google’s bots will penalize you for having cluttered or confusing web design, and if your customers can’t find what they need immediately, they will go elsewhere.
When designing your website go for clean, clear and visual. If you have text, try not to make its long form. Shorter content with several paragraphs is better than long, rambling pieces. Imagine how your content would look as seen through the lens of a small smartphone and you will get the idea.
The massive trend of people turning to their smartphones and tablets instead of laptops and desktops is not going away anytime soon. The good news is that with some smart planning and through understanding the dynamics and differences of mobile search engine optimization, your business can be ahead of the curve when it comes to promoting yourself effectively in a mobile environment.
If you take the steps outlined in this guide, you will not only win new customers and be rewarded with increased business and loyalty from your existing customers, Google will notice too! Google’s mobile-first index is only the beginning of their shift towards seeing mobile as a more viable form of accessing the internet than desktops or laptops. It is really only a matter of time before businesses without a proper mobile presence are left behind.
Fortunately, you have all of the information you need to start making strides to enhancing your mobile presence today! The first thing to do is make sure your website is completely responsive, has a great load time and is not cluttered with pop-up ads. Once you have gotten the basics down, you can start visiting your keywords to make sure that they are the most effective and really focusing on localized, short, and question-based keywords.
The design is important too. A clean design will go far with your smartphone using customers and potential clients. When all elements are working together you will start to gain traction in the Google rankings and your customers will take notice.