7 Foundational Steps That Will Help You Conquer the Mobile SEO Game
The Gator swamp visualized the mobile SEO practices that will give you a leg up in the competitive online landscape in the infographic above. If you keep reading, you will discover a detailed analysis of the seven game-changing strategies that will point you to your mobile SEO success!
If you’re a member of the online business ecosystem, chances are your visitors and customers can find you on desktop and mobile search engine results pages. But are your SEO efforts actually paying off in order to be ranked among the first pages? If you haven’t taken the SEO game seriously enough, it is highly unlikely that you can magically convince Google about your relevance, authority, and unique user experience. Thus, your website will not be perceived as prominent or structurally sound enough to coexist with other powerful and influential players on the first page.
This “website architecture” that Google holds as a prototype for the highest rankings is much more important for mobile sites. Mobile SEO refers to the practices of targeting website optimization in order for users to access your site and mobile bots to evaluate it. As the number of users interacting with mobile constantly rises, search engines turn to mobile-friendly website versions to award them for their optimal structure and performance. After all, Google has embraced mobile-first indexing since 2019, meaning that it will crawl your mobile version first before judging your desktop version.
According to CNBC, approximately 3.7 billion people will access the internet entirely via their mobile devices by 2025. This colossal number of people translates to roughly 72.6 % of the total number of internet users. With these statistics in mind, maybe it’s time to reconsider your mobile SEO approach to show Google your worth, generate qualifying leads, and convert them to loyal customers. Always remember that user behavior is different on mobile, and your visitors will most likely seek quick and timely answers to their needs. Moreover, different standards apply to mobile due to significantly smaller real estate and the added difficulty of navigating with fingers. To guide you through this process, we’ve built a comprehensive list of essential SEO mobile optimization tips that will elevate you in Google’s and, most importantly, your visitors’ eyes.
Even though Google’s guidelines should be your compass for mobile SEO, you should never neglect the human element that defines your business goals. Sure, the technical aspect is important, but your customer will ultimately choose you because you can deliver value. This value must be reflected on your website’s pages and on your overall mission that will make your products or services stand out from the crowd. Today, consumers are adept enough to distinguish your qualities and flaws. So follow the rules, but never write in a robotic manner.
Now, let’s dive into the best mobile SEO practices!
1. Perform separate keyword research for your mobile website’s SEO
We’ve already mentioned that mobile and desktop should be encountered differently when it comes to SEO, and your keyword research should also be performed with a mobile-first mentality. What will your visitors type in the search box when they’re using their mobile device? The majority of mobile users will type starkly different phrases on mobile compared to desktop because the search intent is also different. Moreover, users’ search queries are usually concise and not as elaborate as they appear on desktop. Voice commands have also gained a lot of momentum on mobile. With that being said, you need to capitalize on this instantaneous power that mobile can deliver to your business. In most cases, users will rely on zero-click results. These results appear at the top of the first search engine results page and provide answers to users’ specific search queries. If their question is adequately answered by the first-ranked result, then they will abandon their search hunt.
To stand a better chance of winning the zero-click position or one of the initial organic results, focus on shorter phrases and keywords that can quickly render the desired results. Users prioritize relevance and immediacy on mobile more than any other device. Proximity is another factor that is incredibly valuable on mobile. Did you know that 94% of smartphone users’ search queries include location-based information? People tend to look for local businesses by using the location-based keywords “near me” and “nearby” regularly. However, it’s crucial to sign up with Google My Business so you can rank for these keywords. We will talk about local SEO for mobile more thoroughly later on.
As mentioned above, another trending feature that facilitates instantaneous results is voice search. However, the issue with voice search is that users sometimes don’t even bother using their browsers. Instead, they perform their search through apps like Siri or Cortana. So the question is, how can you rank better for non-text based searches. This ambiguous question becomes less foggy when you employ a strategy that prioritizes user intent. In other words, in addition to short keywords, you should also identify short questions that will likely bring visitors to your website. For example, when someone asks, “Where to eat in Philadelphia?” it means that the user is looking to try restaurants in Philadelphia. It’s also probable that the results on the first page might trigger a decision.
All in all, if you know your audience and you’re willing to create an SEO keyword strategy backed with research for mobile, you’re off to a great start! However, that’s not enough to gain credibility, authority and new business leads. At Purplegator, we live and breathe everything SEO! Our customers have observed a substantial increase in web traffic after we created mobile-friendly websites and integrated our SEO services.
2. Choose your website’s design configuration.
Another important aspect of your mobile website’s SEO is choosing the appropriate design configuration. There are plenty of options, but the decision comes down to which configuration type offers the best functionality for your mobile website and how convenient it is to manage it. You can choose between creating separate URLs, a dynamic or a responsive design. In reality, Google is more favorable towards the responsive design, and we also recommend using it for better management reasons. This design serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the device used. Therefore, your website’s design will automatically adjust to a mobile device’s screen.
3. Rocket speed will help you rank better.
When your site takes an extra second to load, the bounce rate also increases! You also have to consider that Google indexes and ranks sites based on site speed. Luckily, it’s not too late to combat this issue if it slipped through…
There are many ways that you can test your site’s speed and identify if there’s room for improvement. Google’s PageSpeed Insights allows you to evaluate your speed performance score and offers suggestions for optimal results.
For optimal speed, keep your mobile website design simple and avoid excess code. Make it elegant and sleek, but avoid flashy designs that impact speed and user experience. In addition, you should cut down on images that slow down your website. If this is impossible, you can compress your images without degrading their quality.
Lastly, you should take advantage of browser caching, which enables browsers to store information and avoid loading the entire page every time a visitor returns to your website. There are many tools you can leverage to set your information caching expiration date. Google also provides detailed recommendations on this practice.
4. It’s all about content and your users’ experience.
What matters the most when your visitors come across your website is content readability. You can follow various strategies to enhance your content appeal and articulateness, but the truth is that you might have to incorporate most of them for the best results.
One aspect that Google will probably dwell on a lot is the content hierarchy. When you use header tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.), you give Google a sense of the most important content on the page and whether it can be used to answer a particular search query. Your headers and font should be legible and prevent a user from pinching or zooming in to read on your mobile website. You want your content to be scrollable and your navigation bars mobile-friendly. Also, long paragraphs can easily turn off your visitors since they wish to access information on the go. As a rule of thumb, use shorter paragraphs and concise sentences with 50-60 characters.
To further elevate the user experience on mobile, leverage negative space and contrast between the text and the background. This is a great way to highlight important calls to action and give the user (and your content) some breathing space. This strategy also involves social media icons that should be easily visible and preferably positioned on the bottom of the page.
Regarding images, you should try to make them as unobtrusive as possible. If a user sees a huge header image when visiting your mobile site, they might abandon it as it creates a distracting effect. The smaller real estate on mobile should be used intelligently. You can use various tools to minimize your header images for mobile. Another key practice would be to eliminate pop-ups since Google also disapproves of intrusive interstitials that block relevant content. You can check out Google’s guidelines for acceptable pop-ups to prevent a potential penalty. For video and animation, you should use HTML5 tags, which are supported by all browsers.
In general, you should avoid blocking Google bots from crawling certain page assets. This could potentially hurt your ranking since Google cannot evaluate your content effectively.
5. Optimize your title and meta descriptions
While title and meta descriptions do not directly impact your website’s ranking, they can certainly boost your click-through rate. Backlinko analyzed 5 million pages and found that those with meta descriptions received 5.8% more CTR. A noteworthy observation is that Google will cut off your titles or meta description if they exceed the recommended character count. For mobile, you actually have eight more characters to work with. Sometimes, if you wish to increase your mobile traffic, you might want to use that little extra space, even if Google truncates your title on desktop.
6. Leverage the power of local search listings
If you haven’t optimized your online website for local search, don’t leave any more time to waste! Local search listings are the key to optimal SEO, and Google My Business can help you accumulate and convey all the important elements that your visitors need. This set of data is called NAP, including your business’s name, address, and phone number. Google My Business also enables you to incorporate other visual content and newer features that reveal more about your offers, like products and services, reviews, social media posts, and much more. At Purplegator, we will manage your local listings to always have the correct information. You will also be granted ownership of your information, see a significant increase in traffic, and save resources.
To increase your organic CTR, you can also use schema markup. This is code that can tell search engines to render more informative and valuable results for your visitors. With schema markup, you have a better chance of ranking on the first page or even landing the rich snippet position.
7. Always test and improve.
Even though we provided the essential practices for mobile SEO, this guide is not a one size fits all solution for every case. Tools like Google’s XML Sitemap and the mobile-friendly test can be invaluable for giving insights on important aspects you would need to modify. While you should always test and retest your site’s appearance, data and analytics should also become your guiding light in competitive research, on-page SEO, technical SEO, link building, and other significant factors contributing to your mobile site’s success. Lastly, it is critical to stay on top of changes and emerging trends to constantly observe progress.
Our team at Purplegator believes that a marketing strategy without SEO is incomplete and that’s why we have our fingers on the pulse of the latest developments and trends. We will create a custom mobile-first SEO strategy that puts your audience’s needs at the forefront.
Theano Karavangelas is a client services coordinator at Purplegator — a mobile-first marketing agency in Philadelphia with offices in Des Moines, Buffalo, Dallas, and Honolulu. Theano is both a Drexel graduate student (Go Dragons!) and a Purplegator.