The introduction of smartphones greatly impacted the world in which we live. Today, our phones are rarely more than two feet from our sides. We look at our phones first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Smartphones have changed the way we live our lives- and they have changed the way we use Google.
So, what does this mean for your business? It means that your marketing and mobile SEO efforts also have to change. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing in an attempt to make it onto Google’s first results page (although keywords are still vital to any SEO strategy). Now, you need to have a user-friendly, mobile optimized site to even think about making it into Google’s top ten.
On top of that, Google recently changed the way they index websites to mobile-first indexing. This basically means that Google is crawling your mobile site before they look into your desktop site. If your mobile site isn’t up to par, it will affect your ranking.
So, how do you get a mobile optimized website, increase your rank on Google’s search engine results page (SERP), and ultimately generate more engagement and conversions for your business? The best way to do this is with mobile friendly SEO practices. Here are five tips we have compiled here at Firetoss to help you along your mobile SEO journey!
1. Increase your Text Size
A few years ago, Google searches on a mobile device outnumbered searches on a desktop. This metric was a long time coming, as users started wanting information whenever and wherever they were. The problem that many businesses ran into after this shift, was that their site was optimized for a desktop experience, but mobile site optimization is a whole different ball game.
One of the easiest and first things you can do to optimize your site with mobile friendly SEO is to increase the text size of your content. Users don’t like having to pinch and zoom to read content on your site. So make it easy on them! Increasing your text size seems like a small, insignificant change, but it makes a big difference.
2. Use a Responsive Design
There are three options to optimize your website design for mobile: a responsive design, dynamic serving, and a separate site developed specifically for mobile devices. If set up correctly (and in conjunction with other mobile friendly SEO best practices), any of these options will work and Google should start noticing your efforts and rewarding your site with an increase in rank. However, the most foolproof option and the one recommended most by Google is a responsive design.
A responsive design does pretty much what it says it’s going to do – it responds to the conditions under which the website is being viewed. Regardless of whether your website is being viewed on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device, it will automatically fit the dimensions of that device. With this method, you get to keep the same URLs without having to create multiples pages designed just for a mobile experience.
Unlike a responsive design, businesses can set up a separate site requiring a different, mobile-friendly URL for viewing on a smartphone. In some ways this is great – it means you can adjust your content to be exactly how you want it on a mobile screen without sacrificing any of your desktop efforts. However, be aware of the amount of work you will have to do in order to optimize for both sites. You will have your mobile site to optimize in addition to your desktop site.
Another issue that is often overlooked is the potential for duplicate content, which could have a negative impact on your SEO ranking. Google does not like duplicate content and in order to avoid this, you would have to establish canonical tags. So, while it seems like a great idea for mobile site optimization to create a mobile website completely separate from your desktop site, this tactic could end up hurting your SERP rank if you don’t do it correctly and implement canonical tags.
The last option, dynamic serving, is also supported by Google, however, it’s more complicated and a lot easier to make a mistake than a responsive design. Dynamic serving uses the same URL for the site, like responsive design, however, it sends different files and codes depending on what kind of device you are accessing the site from.
So, although you can optimize your website for mobile friendly SEO practices using any of these options, a responsive design is the easiest to set up, easiest to maintain, and the design recommended by Google.
3. Think About the Goals of the Mobile User vs. the Goals of the Desktop User
One thing that gets easily overlooked when optimizing websites with mobile friendly SEO is the actual intent of the user. SEO experts and amateurs alike agree that the main goal of your website should be to create an amazing user experience. When a user visits a site that is inherently easy to use and gives them value, they then respond. This leads to greater engagement and overall conversions.
So, think about the call to action(s) on your site and how they affect the usability of your mobile site. When visitors are accessing your site from their smartphone, often it is because they are on the go and ready to call or stop in.
So, that phone number that you have on your site? Make sure that it is near the top and is an easily seen, clickable link that will make it easy for customers to get in touch quickly. This is the same for your business address. You want users to have a convenient, quick way to get directions. When users have to search deep in your site to find these things, often it results in them leaving your site and going to a competitor- where this information is much easier to find. Mobile friendly SEO practices can help you keep visitors on your site.
Lastly, if you have a physical address for your business and serve customers face to face, make sure you have a Google My Business set up. This is how searchers can easily find your phone number and address when they search for your brand. It makes it super convenient for them to get the info needed to call or come in and possibly make a purchase.
4. Increase your Page Speed
Page speed, page speed, page speed. When it comes to mobile friendly SEO practices, we can’t say it enough! One of the biggest factors Google looks at when ranking sites is page speed. Google wants users to have the best user experience (and I’m assuming you do as well). And this means that your site can’t take more than a couple seconds to load.
We’ve all been on the user end when dealing with a slow-loading webpage- we have clicked on a site from the SERP and see a blank white screen in front of us. And because we are used to lightning fast loading speeds, we are too impatient and can’t stand sitting and waiting for the page to load. So, what do we do? We go back to the SERP and find a different site to meet our needs. So, how do you fix this?
One easy way to increase the speed of your site for mobile site optimization is to use AMP. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and loads content quicker for mobile users. AMP delivers content from cache servers instead of the original site, which is how it is able to deliver content faster.
Another mobile friendly SEO practice to improve your page speed is to optimize the images on your site. Images are a major reason for slow loading web pages. Make sure you are using image compression, choosing the right image format, and optimizing image alt text. This way users won’t be sitting there waiting for your page to load, or even worse, moving on to a competitor’s page.
Don’t let your site be the one that users immediately leave because the page speed is too slow. Use AMP and optimize your images to increase your page speed and keep users on your site instead of going to your competitor.
5. Manually Test your Site
Our last mobile friendly SEO tip for you today is to manually test your site from a mobile device and fix what you don’t like. You may go on to your site and keep accidentally clicking the wrong button on the menu because they are too close together. Or maybe you notice that your “Contact Me” form looks great, but you can’t actually fill it out correctly from your mobile device. All of these things add up to users.
With the number of websites that currently exist and new ones being created every day, competition is only getting fiercer and making mobile friendly SEO practices more important. If a visitor gets frustrated trying to use your site, they aren’t going to stick around and wait for you to figure it out. They will go out and find someone else who gives them a better user experience while still meeting their needs.
One way to look at how your site is performing in the user’s eyes is to explore your exit page reports using a mobile device filter. This report can be found in Google Analytics under “Site Content” reports. Notice which page(s) users are exiting most frequently. If this is a purchase confirmation or thank you page, great! That means most of your visitors are not exiting your site until after they have made whatever conversion you have set up. However, if most users are exiting a product page, you will want to figure out why. Is some function of the page not working correctly? Exit page reporting can help you identify the pages that might have issues with the user experience.
One of the first things we do for our clients here at Firetoss is a manual mobile SEO audit. This allows us to go into the site just like a customer would and see what works and what doesn’t. Putting yourself in the user’s shoes will give you some of the greatest insights into how you can improve your mobile site.
So, although a lot goes into optimizing your website for mobile users, these are five easy, mobile friendly SEO tips to get you started! With the new mobile-first index, Google will be crawling your mobile site before they crawl your desktop site. This means that it’s more important than ever before to have a great mobile site. So, take these tips and get started optimizing your own website for mobile users! If you feel like you don’t have the time or energy to tackle these tips, you can always contact us about our own SEO services where we audit and fix all of the issues listed above as well as many others!