If you are new to mobile SEO, then you may be wondering how optimisation efforts diverge from the desktop counterpart and what exactly you need to do to make your pages friendly for smartphone users and Google’s mobile-first index. The question and answer format below will hopefully offer some insights into how to make sense of this digital marketing niche.
Why is mobile SEO important?
Mobile SEO involves the optimisation of websites for mobile devices with the aim of delivering excellent user experiences and increasing the visibility of pages in search engines. It’s a win-win situation. Digital-savvy consumers now crave fast and responsive content, which you can serve up by optimising for technical SEO. You also benefit from mobile-friendliness by ranking higher in SERPs.
Mobile SEO has become more important during the last two or three years due to the rise of mobile searches and content consumption on smartphones. As of May 2020, 50.34% of searches are completed on mobile compared to 46.67% on desktop devices.
Google has also launched a range of initiatives that make mobile content a priority. Its planned switch to a mobile-first index next year is yet more evidence of how it favours content tailored for the small screen. The mobile user experience will also improve your brand image and retention. A study by Google found that almost two-thirds of people would be less likely to purchase from a company if they had a negative mobile experience.
How do I know if my site is mobile-ready?
Google has already switched 70% of sites to its mobile-first index, so there is a good chance that your site has already been migrated. One way to prepare your site for the move is by making it more mobile-friendly. You can see whether you pass the test by running Google’s own ‘Mobile-Friendly Test’ tool. All you have to do is post your URL or a code snippet to see the results. The tool will also flag any issues that need to be addressed.
Google also has a ‘Mobile Usability’ tool in Google Search Console. Running this will highlight and detail any errors you are making and the pages that are affected. These two simple tools are the best starting point for your mobile SEO journey as you will be armed with the knowledge to make the required changes and amendments.
How can I make a website mobile-friendly?
You can implement a mobile-friendly website by focusing on implementing a responsive design setup that serves the same HTML code seamlessly across every device to give the user the same high-quality experience. This ‘responsive design’ is one of three ways that Google enables webmasters to create a mobile-friendly website. However, the other two, dynamic service and separate URLs, are not always effective or sustainable.
Google recommends the use of responsive web design as it reduces the length of the crawling process, something that is crucial for SEO. You need Google to crawl your pages so that it can understand your site structure and feature them in SERPs. It also cuts down any redirections, which is bad for the user and minimises the chances of errors and mistakes.
What’s the best way to optimise for mobile?
You will need more than a responsive web design to make sure that your pages are ideally suited for mobile consumption. There are a number of ways that you can optimise for mobile, including improving mobile site speed, using Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative, avoiding interstitial pop-ups, and ensuring that Google is actually able to access and crawl everything on your site, as noted earlier.
How do I improve page speed?
Getting mobile site speed right is one of the more challenging activities as it requires a knowledge of technical SEO. This is an area where you may need to collaborate with wider IT to make improvements. For example, switching to a new website hosting provider can reduce your server response times, which can improve performance and speed times.
There are tests you can run to see most of the issues you need to meet head on though. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is very useful here as it will give you scores for key metrics and signals. Google has recently launched a new set of Core Web Vitals that are tied to speed and general user experience. Moving forward, you will need to keep tabs on the ‘Largest Contentful Paint’ (LCP), ‘First Input Delay’ (FID) and ‘Cumulative Layout Shift’ (CLS), which are related to loading, interactivity and visual stability, respectively.
Are there any other ways to improve user experience?
While fast-loading pages are a top priority for visitors on mobile, there are other factors that are crucial to user experience. You should ensure that copy and content are readable and easy to understand, which can be achieved with medium to large font sizes and a judicious use of negative space. You can then make pages more intuitive and simple to navigate by implementing clickable elements correctly and placing and sizing menus and buttons appropriately.
Does all of this help mobile SEO?
Mobile optimisation plays a major role in improving SEO for smartphones and tablets as it will make your pages better for people on these devices and make your site resources accessible to Google’s crawler. You also need to keep on top of keyword research for mobile and local SEO. Six in 10 mobile users are searching for things close to them, so mobile can be a powerful tool for serving their needs.
All of this work will help you to deliver the experiences that users expect and will increase your visibility in search at just the right time as mobile searches continue to grow year on year.