Mobile SEO: What It Is and Why It Matters
In April 2015, Google rolled out a new algorithm update that places more importance on mobile optimization. This means that websites Google does not consider mobile-friendly probably took a hit, while those that are mobile-friendly saw a boost in rankings. It was a logical update for Google, because today roughly half of all searches are conducted on a mobile device, but it means more work for businesses to stay ahead of the algorithm.
Now more than ever before, Google takes a holistic look at the entire mobile site, which means that mobile SEO must include such factors as how the page fits on a small screen and whether the user must pinch or swipe in order to read all of the information. Here is a look at some of the top issues to consider when improving your mobile SEO.
1. Responsive Design
Google actually supports three different ways of making a website mobile-friendly: responsive design, dynamic serving, and separate URLs. Of these, responsive design is both the simplest and the one that Google normally recommends. Rather than scaling the content or displaying only the portion that fits, responsive design renders the site with the proper dimensions. It allows users to easily share the same URL between computers and mobile devices, and prevents many of the difficulties that you have no doubt encountered when trying to access some websites from your tablet or phone.
2. Content Playability
Flash is relatively easy and powerful, and has long been a favorite among web designers. However, it is not supported at all on the iPhone, and requires special plug-ins and long load times on the Android. Some other programming software also has trouble on certain devices. To ensure that mobile users can access all of your content, choose HTML 5 instead. Providing a transcript of all video content will also help users who use assistive devices.
3. Page Speed
Slow load times are a major problem for mobile users, with more than 70 percent leaving a mobile site that takes more than five seconds to fully load. To improve your page speed, carefully go through each page’s coding to make sure it is compressed and optimized.
4. Local SEO
Local SEO is a very important part of mobile SEO, because Google likes to display local results to mobile searchers. Claim your Google+ page, ensure that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) information is absolutely correct and identical across all business directories, add geographic keywords to your title tags, and add schema markup code to the business information on your website. These actions tell Google exactly where you are and what you do, resulting in higher rankings for customers who perform Google searches in your area.
5. Mobile 404 Errors
In some cases, clicking a link directs computer users to another web page, but mobile users receive a 404 page not found error. Responsive design generally solves this problem, but it is worthwhile to check all of your links on a mobile device. If you find these errors, make sure you have appropriate redirects in place and that the linked page works properly when you manually enter its URL.
Pop-ups are a common way to advertise, request mailing list sign-ups, and offer special promotions. On mobile devices, however, they can actually cover the entire screen, negatively affecting the user experience. Instead of pop-ups, include the information within the content of your mobile webpage.
7. Conversational Search Terms
As more and more people turn to voice searches, it is not enough to simply insert keywords into your copy. Instead, you need to implement conversational search terms in natural sounding ways. Try talking to yourself or someone else about the main information that a particular page provides, and then insert some of the phrases that naturally come up.
8. Content Parity
While it may seem simpler to create a stripped down mobile website, consumers are no longer satisfied with this solution. Armed with smart phones and tablets with a great deal of processing power, mobile searchers expect to access a rich, fully developed mobile site that rivals the full computer version. Compare both sites side by side, and make sure that nothing is left out. Responsive design can help with this, but a manual review can help identify errors or omissions.
9. Results Analysis
When you feel that your site is well-optimized for mobile, run each page through Google’s free mobile-friendly test tool. Type in the URL, wait a few moments, and Google will present a detailed analysis of any issues it finds with mobile-friendliness, as well as links and resources for improvement.
Mobile SEO requires some specific techniques that are different from those used for traditional SEO. With 50 percent of all searches now originating from a mobile device, and Google’s new algorithm rewarding sites that are mobile-friendly, now is the time to make sure your website is fully optimized for mobile usage.
Want even more SEO tips? I created a simple checklist that walks you through specific actions you can take to improve your rankings and traffic. Click here to get my SEO Checklist.
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.