Mobile SEO

The past decade has seen the mobile revolution take the digital world by storm. Every year, more and more people are spending more and more time on mobile devices like phones and tablets. Knowing that a lot of people are going to be visiting your website from a mobile device, it makes sense that you should invest in mobile optimisation as a crucial part of any successful SEO campaign. And that’s not to mention the fact that Google itself is putting more weight and importance behind mobile search anyway.

The number of websites that are still lagging behind the curve with websites that fail to live up to mobile standards is staggering. With different screen sizes and load times, there are different requirements to mobile SEO, and organising good optimisation is now a crucial part of any technical SEOs job description.

Mobile SEO is all about creating a great experience for those visiting the mobile version of your site. From site design, page speed, site structure, and more, every SEO campaign needs to make sure that you’re not losing organic traffic by immediately turning off mobile visitors. Mobile SEO is also about making your website resources as accessible to search bots and crawlers as possible – with Google’s mobile-first index and an increasingly mobile-driven world, you’re going to need a flawless mobile version of your site for the best SEO results.

How Important is Mobile SEO?

The number of mobile searches is rising year on year – and it’s doing so quickly. With over 58% of Google searches now being made from a mobile device, it’s plain to see that, if your website is turning away organic mobile traffic, then you’re essentially shutting yourself out from over half of the market. Which, let’s face it, is a level of self sabotage no one can afford.

In short, mobile is the future of search. And Google knows it. In fact, while Google has been signalling this for years, in 2018 Google introduced us to the mobile-first index – a clear indication of how important mobile search is becoming to Google. Even before this, Google launched the mobile-friendly update – better known in some SEO circles as ‘mobilegeddon’. With this, sites that offered a poor or broken experience for mobile users were penalised.

If you want an effective and long term SEO campaign that wins the results you want, mobile can’t be ignored. But don’t just think of it as doing something to appease Google – over half of your potential traffic could be visiting you from a mobile device, and you’re going to want to give them the best experience possible.

People are attached to their smartphones, and mobile SEO gives you the opportunity to reach these customers at the right place and the right time better than desktop search ever did. People now have the internet at their finger tips within easy range pretty much every second of the day, and when they need to look something up, they can do so instantaneously. It’s your job to be there when someone is ready to buy – mobile SEO lets you do this.

How Does The Mobile-First Index Work?

The mobile-first index that Google rolled out in 2018 ranks search results based solely on the mobile version of the given page. The significance of this is that this is the case even for users searching from a desktop.

While Google’s index used to use a combination of mobile and desktop results, this is no longer the case – it’s all mobile now. Before, if someone searched from an iPhone they’d get mobile search results, whereas a different user searching for the same thing from a desktop would get desktop results. Today, it doesn’t matter what device you’re browsing from – you’ll always get mobile results.

But how significant is this really? Well, it depends on how good your mobile SEO is.

If you’ve got a mobile friendly website with loads of great resources available across different devices, that doesn’t lose content when being viewing from a mobile device, that loads sufficiently quickly enough, and has a focused user experience design optimised for all devices, then you’re going to be ok.

But if you’ve forgotten or ignored mobile optimisation, you won’t be ok. Before, you could have survived with desktop searches, but now you’re likely to notice a drop in rankings if your mobile SEO is poor.

For a quick tip, it’s worth knowing that Google really wants your content to be the same across devices, across desktop and mobile sites. If it’s different, that’s not a good sign. So the key to mobile-friendliness is not to remove troublesome content and to trim your website down. If you’ve got content, responsive design, and features on desktop that don’t translate to the mobile version, that’s a problem.

Wait – what exactly does Google mean when it says ‘mobile device’?

When you hear the term ‘mobile device’, you almost certainly think of smartphones first, but also tablets like iPads and Kindles too.

Somewhat surprisingly, Google doesn’t actually take the same view. In fact, Google sees tablets and smartphones as different, categorising tablets as their own little category entirely. So this means that when Google talks about ‘mobile devices’, they’re not including tablets or other portable devices in that. For Google, mobile means smartphone, and that’s all.

If this is confusing, don’t worry too much. The fact is that it shouldn’t actually change anything you do when approaching the task of mobile optimization. The principle remains the same – Google wants you to treat all devices as equal, and it wants you to work to optimize your website for users across all devices.

Remember, Google likes to make itself as future-proof as possible – and it always puts the needs of its users first. So when it comes to your website, Google sees it as your job to optimize for any and all devices its users might be searching from – whether that’s a smartphone, tablet, or any other new device that may become the next big thing.

The Best Practices For Mobile SEO

It should be pretty clear just how important mobile SEO is to your website, so let’s get into some of the best practices for mobile usability and optimization.

The good news is that if your website is already well optimized for search engines and desktop usage, then your work to make a great mobile experience for your users will be a little easier.

The thing to remember when building a great mobile website is to focus on performance. If one thing is true about our generation of smartphone users, it’s that we’ve got a pretty short attention span – we tend to get bored quickly and easily and move on to other things if we don’t find what we’re looking for. Mobile design and mobile configuration is all about making the most of the short time you have to grab a user’s attention and keep them on your site.

So let’s get into some of the best techniques and SEO practices to keep people glued to their mobile screens when they visit your website.

Improve site speed

Page speed has always been an important part of SEO – not only is it a known ranking signal, high load speeds are known to massively increase bounce rates for organic traffic. When it comes to mobile pages and mobile content, speed is even more important than it is for desktop users – it’s also one of the most overlooked mistakes websites make. A combination of hardware restrictions and connectivity issues means that you’re even more pressed for time when it comes to engaging with your mobile browsers.

Site speed really is one of the most deciding factors when it comes to your mobile SEO strategy. Fortunately, there are a lot of great tools out there, like PageSpeed Insights, that can show you exactly how quick your site is loading – both your mobile site and your desktop site – also suggesting performance enhancements too.

Fortunately, there’s quite a lot you can do to ensure a responsive site on mobile phones, such as:

  • Enable compression and optimize your image file sizes.

  • Minify your code like CSS and Javascript.

  • Leverage browser caching.

  • Reduce redirects.

Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to improve mobile page speed. Plus, the act of mobile search engine optimization is a great opportunity to reassess your website and consider what non essential parts of your website could be reduced or even removed. Less is often more, and most websites end up with more assets than they need.

However, remember not to block your CSS, Javascript or images. In days gone by, mobile devices couldn’t support these and, as a result, mobile sites would block any or all of these. But search bots want to see and index all the content that your users see – hiding it is a bad idea.

Google also wants your content to be identical across the different versions of your website. If you have content and assets available on your desktop site that are missing from your mobile site, it’s not a good look. That’s what can make mobile SEO a little tricky.

Implement Responsive Design

Responsive web design is a great way of delivering to your users the same content across all devices, from desktop to tablet to smartphone. Essentially, responsive websites use CSS3 media queries and use a fluid grid and flexible design in order to adapt – completely automatically – to each user’s device screen.

Responsive design adapts your website layout to the given screen width, resolution and orientation. The best thing about it? Not only is this automatic – responsive design achieves this without needing separate URLs or different HTML across the different devices. Google itself recommends responsive design. These days, it’s an absolute must for SEO.

Some of the benefits of responsive websites include:

  • All of your content shares one URL, which makes sharing content and earning links better and easier.

  • One URL makes it easier for Google to crawl and index – which can earn higher search rankings.

  • No redirects necessary, removing a common technical SEO issue that slows down your website.

  • There’s not a lot of setup time, and then everything is automatic.

  • Duplicate content and other common SEO issues and mistakes are avoided.

  • Responsive design is, by its very nature, incredibly user friendly. And with user experience a known ranking factor, this is brilliant.

Aim For The Best User Experience

Face it, we’ve all been there – you’re checking something on your phone and the website is impossible to read because the text is tiny and before you know it, you’ve pressed the wrong button with your thumb, taking you somewhere you didn’t mean to go.

If your users are having to squint and scroll endlessly in order to make their way through your mobile content, then you’re probably going to lose some of that organic traffic out of frustration and boredom. Visitors who have a bad user experience aren’t likely to return. Sure, your website might technically be mobile optimized, but if the experience is still difficult for the user then you’re not doing your job.

Speed is great, but you need to have an insight into your users’search intent and make it your first task when designing a mobile page to remove obstacles and guide your users to their goal quickly and easily.

Some of the things to think about when designing a good mobile user experience include:

  • Get your font size right. This is a Goldilocks situation – too small and your users will squint and pinch and become annoyed, too large and your users will be getting thumb cramp from all the scrolling. You need to get your font size just right.

  • Put your number on the homepage and make sure it’s clickable – your users should have the option to quickly and conveniently give you a call if they want to.

  • Make sure there’s enough room between the clickable elements, but also make sure they are large enough for fingers. Everyone hates mis-clicking when browsing on a phone.

  • De-clutter. Banner ads and pop-ups that would be tolerable on desktop all of a sudden becoming overwhelming when viewed on mobile.

  • Make sure your forms are ready for mobile use. When it comes to SEO and digital marketing, this is one of the best ways of collecting information about your visitors – bad forms on mobile simply won’t get used.

Don’t Forget Local Search

Running a business with a local element? There’s absolutely no reason not to use this when performing mobile SEO. Optimizing mobile content for local search by standardizing your details and information, including location information in your metadata and more can yield excellent results.

Pretty much all mobile phones and other portable devices use GPS, which means that local businesses generally receive more mobile traffic that ends up generating sales and conversions.

Our smartphones are with us all day, every day. While most of this time is probably spent at home or at work, these devices are most useful when we’re out and about – and Google tells us that around 76% of people who made a local search ended up visiting a related business within 24 hours. And with over a quarter of these visits ending in a sale, that’s business that you really don’t want to miss out on.

Get In Touch

Mobile is a big part of how we perform SEO here at Embryo Digital – and our ability to earn our clients excellent and consistent results for their SEO campaign. Want to find out more about what we do here at Embryo?

Get in touch with today, we’re always available for a chat about what we do and how we can help bring success to your brand online.