Look around the street the next time you are walking, and count the number of smartphones you see. How long does it take you to reach 100? My guess is that any reasonably crowded metropolitan street you can reach that goal in less than 5 minutes.
With smartphone devices reaching 90% penetration in the US and UK this year, it is not surprising that 50% of all searches on Google are done on mobile devices.
To help businesses cope with the revolution in mobile searching we asked the top search engine optimization experts around the world for their opinion on the best strategies you can implement for your Mobile SEO strategy.
Mobile SEO Experts
Roxana Nasoi – Serplified (@roxanasoi)
While I agree there are common practices in terms of web SEO and mobile SEO, I’ve found the following aspects deserve additional attention when planning to optimize a website for mobile purposes.
- You can opt for a mobile-friendly theme/design or go for full exclusive mobile design. I’ve seen businesses going for both. While a mobile friendly theme does address many devices (i.e. tablet, smartphone, mini notebook), I do believe an exclusive mobile website shows a deeper commitment towards your audience and your customers.
- Considering the next step is to create a custom mobile app that users could use to access your products/services, perhaps it’s not such a bad idea to start with a full mobile design.
- With mobile SEO, it’s not just the optimization at hand, but also each element needs to be mobile-friendly without overloading the page. The design itself can raise a lot of inconveniences if you opt for more than 2-3 colors. Or if you have too many elements (i.e. buttons) and in close proximity to each other (i.e. user wants to click Share, but instead clicks Subscribe because both buttons are too close to each other).
- Use a minimum of apps/plugins that do not overload the website or the load time of a page.
- Have a clean simple design for mobile-only version.
- Use plugins/apps that force the page load time.
- Personal recommendations are plugin “EWWW Image Optimizer” – reduces file sizes for images within WordPress and plugin Lazy Load XT.
- Make sure you submit mobile sitemaps to your GA account. Yoast has an option for mobile sitemaps.
Imagine mobile SEO being linked more to the user experience and not the search engine itself. Another thing to consider is what type of search engine do most of your users use: do they use the “default” search engine (i.e. Google with Android, Explorer with Windows Phone etc.), or do they prefer a search app / open a new page and perform the search. If you access your website’s Google Analytics, you should get an idea of the devices and search clients your target audience uses. If the majority of your users prefer Google as a web client and search engine, optimize your mobile website for Google.
Should your users prefer Microsoft Edge as a web client and Bing lenses as a search engine, then optimize your mobile website for Bing.
Oleg Korneitchouk – SmartSites (@SmartSitesNJ)
The top priorities are to make sure Google confirms you are mobile friendly
Google recently updated their mobile friendly testing tool in order to let website owners better understand whether their website is or isn’t mobile friendly and how the steps they need to take in order to correct it.
It’s important to note that all pages on your website should be mobile friendly – so be sure to test each differently styled pages. You should also submit your website to Google Search Console, which then gives you mobile friendliness errors for all of the pages on the site.
Page Speed is even more important. Although speed is an important factor for any site, the importance is magnified for mobile websites.
Slow loading mobile sites will rank worse, convert worse and have a much higher bounce rate than their desktop equivalents. Users are generally on the go and need an answer to their question immediately. If the page takes too long to load, they’ll find another site.
Consider the intent of the user and give them what they want. If you have a restaurant website, you may use large images of your food and venues in order to entice hungry patrons to visit your restaurant. People who search via their phones are more likely to have already decided on your food and instead want to know your phone number and address.
Modifying the layout of your website in order to address the different needs of mobile users will decrease your bounce rate, convert more visitors into customers (which trickles down into more customers, more reviews and better rankings).
Chelsey Moter – seoWorks (@SEOWorks)
My tip would be to make sure the website is designed & branded for the user first; then optimized for search engines.From my experience, a lot of companies think if they invest in SEO they will increase the number of customers. However, in order to attract new customers, they first need to create an online presence that draws in the user.
We live in an era where branding is crucial, since we base our opinions off of what we see. Our attention span grows shorter and users are smarter. Therefore, if the business is not visually appealing then chances are what they sell isn’t either.
Also, I think accelerated mobile pages is one of the greatest concepts Google has introduced. It really speaks to the user and is giving them exactly what they’re looking for at an even faster rate than the average web page. I love how it eliminates most of the elements that mobile users don’t care about like forms and pop-ups. I think it’s an enhancement that developers should start implementing sooner rather than later.
Ivan Kostadinov – Local Fame (@getlocalfame)
I want to emphasize the importance of Voice Search for SEO. Voice queries are much longer, and are in the form of a question. Therefore, the content should be readable for humans.
Furthermore, those queries are made through a mobile device by a person that may visit the store/restaurant/print shop, which means you have to provide them with directions and a map. Facilitate a path to your doorstep.
Bob Bentz – Purplegator (@purplegator)
If your marketing plan doesn’t include mobile, then your marketing plan is not finished. The same can be said of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). While many elements that are critical in search engine optimization for desktop are the same as mobile, there are some definite differences when optimizing a mobile website.
First, it is important to note that search engine ranking for mobile is considerably more important than it is for desktop. Mobile searchers are in more of a hurry and less interested in researching.
Therefore, tap-through rates on mobile are far more likely to be in the first few search result positions than with desktop. Moreover, it is far less likely that the mobile searcher will visit page two of search results, thus making it highly unlikely that a consumer will find a listing that doesn’t make the first page.
Mobile search engine optimization consists of improving site design, site structure, page speed, and other variables to make sure a site is properly servicing mobile searchers. In general, the same basic principles that deliver high rankings for desktop searches will also work for mobile searches.
Maria Fiscina – Active Web Group (@awg)
Mobile SEO is similar to desktop SEO. However due to the smaller screen size a website needs to be much more focused. Users are generally in more of a hurry when they’re using their mobile devices, so I recommend the following:
- Images – Use images that are easy to recognize and that add value to the page. In other words, if you’re talking about ice cream parlors don’t put a dinosaur image up (unless of course it’s enjoying a cone). Make sure the images’ dimensions are sized for the device. If they’re too big people won’t be able to take it all in and it’ll take a lot longer to load.
- Headers – Make sure they stand out and are succinct. Long headers are harder for users to follow and bots to capture.
- Compress file sizes when possible – in line with the on-the-go mentality, faster loading sites tend to rank and perform better. Give minify a try and work on compressing images site wide.
- Switch to RWD & AMP – Seriously. They are so much easier to setup & maintain than a separate mobile presence. A separate mobile site can often lead to duplicate content issues and competing with oneself.
Jason Parks – The Media Captain (@themediacaptain)
Make sure to include your NAP information on the homepage of your mobile friendly site. NAP stands for name, address and phone number. Google will pick up on this relevant local information and it is important to have it listed on your homepage.
This local information will also have a direct correlation to your Google+ page, which can populate towards the top of the search results. If you are in the top three positions locally, you will drive more mobile traffic to your site, which will help you grow your business.
Lachlan Wells – Optimising (@optimisingseo)
My best tip for optimizing a mobile site is to avoid using pop ups. They can be a great tool to encourage desktop users to sign up to a mailing list, but many developers don’t realize how frustrating they can be on a mobile device. Close buttons are often too small to tap and the pop up takes up the entire screen.
Instead of using a popup for your call to action, place it at the bottom of the page and keep your content reasonably concise so it isn’t a long scroll to get to it. Use one short sentence for your call to action and make sure any input fields are nice and large.
Uttoran Sen – GuestCrew (@guestcrew)
Fixe all the mobile friendly errors in Google webmaster central – Google webmaster central or the newly re-named “search console” has a section for being mobile friendly. Look into the errors under the “mobile usability” tab fix the errors. This step alone helps a lot in securing good rankings on the mobile search.
Work on overall SEO – If you don’t rank for web search, you won’t rank for anything else. We worked for the overall SEO and started to rank better for desktop terms. Much of this was just growth hacking techniques that I use for my clients, but it all adds up and the mobile traffic too increased along with the desktop.
Make sure the interface is easy to read – For smartphone users, even if you pass search console – it is still important to understand that a happy reader is the ultimate goal.
Fix the font size – make sure that your text is readable and the images and other properties are well presented. Make the clickable texts and buttons appear properly and nothing over-shadows others.
Instant Apps – While mobile web is the first step and having a fully functional app for your business was the 2nd and last step towards doing mobile. Now it seems, there’s soon going to be a 3rd step in mobile marketing – Instant Apps. Think of this as a preview experience for your users where your visitor won’t have to download your app to gain the full benefits and neither has to stay contended with the limited mobile web features. They can download a very small part of the app – just enough to check things around and once they have done so – they will have the option to download the full app if they choose it.
Mobile searches have become a vital part of any local business digital marketing strategy. The strategies and tips above by our SEO experts help you improve your mobile search rankings to get the best possible traffic and clientele from mobile searches.
However, we know that you cannot implement all of the strategies listed above at once. Therefore, let us know in the comments below what you thought was the best mobile SEO strategy for your business?