The number of people accessing the web on smartphones is continually increasing. Adapting to the constantly changing landscape of the digital world is a necessity to optimize for mobile and attract viewers. According to Google, more searches are conducted on mobile devices than any other and mobile friendliness has been a ranking success factor since 2015.
In 2016, Google announced mobile-first indexing. This means that search listings are created and ranked based on the mobile versions of content — even when they’re shown to desktop users. Optimizing your website and content for mobile also means optimizing for search engines.
Optimize for Mobile
SEO is a branch of marketing focused on increasing visibility in non-paid or organic search engine results. As you optimize for mobile, keep in mind that SEO is composed of both creative and technical elements that are required to drive traffic, increase awareness, and improve rankings in search engines.
SEO has many parts, including the words on your page, how other sites link to you, and making sure your site is structured so that search engines can understand it. Optimizing your site makes it friendlier for search engines and people.
SEO Best Practices
The top three factors that determine search engine ranking are links, content, and RankBrain. RankBrain is Google’s artificial intelligence technology that helps process search results. RankBrain is machine-learning, meaning that it teaches itself over time and is only part of Google’s overall algorithm. Following SEO best practices helps ensure that your site is highly ranked in Google (and other search engine) results.
On mobile and desktop, your strategy should focus on your users, not on achieving a ranking. There are three main types of search engine queries:
1. Transaction: searching for a plane ticket or looking for a song or video
2. Information: searching for information like the best restaurant in the area or the actor in a movie.
3. Navigation: searching for a webpage or site like Facebook or the MBA homepage.
When one of these queries leads a visitor to your page, you want them to be satisfied with what they find. Search engine’s primary responsibility is to deliver relevant results to users. Figure out what your target audience and customers are looking for and make sure your site is delivering what they want and need. Focus on providing relevant, useful, and authoritative information to your audience and you will have successful SEO rankings on desktop and mobile.
Quick Check: Is Your Site Optimized for Mobile?
Depending on your site design, optimizing for search-engines may not require any changes for mobile. If you have a responsive website and are using best SEO practices there, they will carry over to your mobile site. However, if you are using dynamic serving (same URL on mobile and desktop, but delivers different HTML content when accessed on mobile) or separate URLs (two distinct URLs –one for mobile and one for desktop) you might have to make some changes. Responsive web design is typically recommended for mobile and search-engine optimization. There are several things you can do to ensure that your mobile site is search-engine friendly beyond design.
1. Test Mobile Friendliness
Concerned that your site might not be mobile-friendly? Google provides an easy tool to show whether your pages are optimized for mobile devices. If you have a lot of pages, plug in the key navigation pages one by one. This can be time consuming but it will ensure that your money pages — like category or product pages — are optimized.
2. Verify Site Indexing
Google uses software known as “web crawlers” to find public webpages — the most well-known web crawler is “Googlebot”. Crawlers look at pages and follow the links, just like you do when browsing the web. Crawlers go from link to link and bring back data to Google’s servers. Google gathers pages during its crawl and creates an index that organizes the search process much like the filing system at a library.
Most websites don’t need to set up any restrictions for serving, crawling, or indexing — their pages appear in search results without doing any extra work. However, site owners can choose how Google crawls and indexes through Webmaster Tool and a robots.txt file. With the robots.txt file, you can choose not to have your site crawled by Googlebot or you can provide specific instructions about how to process pages.
Most mobile websites will index automatically and with a responsive site, you have no need to worry. However, if you have two separate websites and separate URLs, Google might not be indexing your mobile pages. Creating a mobile sitemap and submitting it to Google Search Console as well as adding your mobile sitemap to your robots.txt file will ensure that your pages are being indexed.
3. Avoid Mobile SEO Mistakes
Long Key Phrases
Mobile users frequently search short key phrases or a single keyword. If your site doesn’t rank highly for short phrases, there’s a good chance you are missing out on a lot of mobile traffic. Most mobile users are also searching locally. Mobile users are typically looking for something in their immediate area or neighborhood — especially when it comes to restaurants. To optimize for mobile, use keywords to designate your location will help your page come up in the rankings.
Long Pages and Low Ranking
Mobile screens are obviously much smaller than a desktop page. Mobile users avoid scrolling through long search pages or clicking next. A page of ten search results may fit on a desktop, but on mobile the top 10 search results are often narrowed to the top 3 or 4. To optimize for mobile and increase traffic, your ranking is critical and must show up in the first page of results. Shorter pages do not mean neglecting your keywords and phrases — these are vital to optimize for mobile search and ranking.
Not Promoting Your Mobile Site
Be sure to promote your mobile site and submit it to mobile search engines, portals, and directories. If all site visitors come from major search engines, that’s great. But, if you want to get more traffic, make sure your site is listed in portals and directories.
Ensuring that your entire site is optimized for mobile is key not only for an excellent user experience, but also to ensure high search engine rankings. Many traditional SEO tactics are transferable to mobile, but ensuring that your pages are mobile-friendly and are indexed by Google are two of the most critical things to consider. Remember to account for small screens and on-the go when creating SEO keywords and phrases. Optimizing for SEO will drive traffic and awareness to your site, while avoiding common mistakes will help your site rank highly on mobile.
Got any other industry tips for SEO ranking? Share with your peers in the comments below!