What Is Mobile Search Engine Optimization?
An estimated 65% of website traffic occurs on mobile devices and continues to grow each year. Is your website ready to serve mobile searchers?
Knowing that everyone uses their mobile phone for just about anything, serving a proper mobile experience is a must-have.
Not only is a mobile-friendly design necessary for the users of a site, it’s also important for search engine crawlers. Because Google wants to create the best search results possible, you need to remember to dial in search engine optimization efforts for mobile pages too.
The Shift to Mobile Search
Many businesses experienced a “mobile moment” in early 2015. However, there are still plenty of websites that have not seen a shift in traffic yet because they are not serving mobile-friendly pages. Searchers expect a mobile-friendly layout designed for any screen size. If they are unable to use your website, you may risk losing their business to a competitor.
Ask yourself a simple question:
When was the last time you browsed a site from your iPhone or Android and the experience was lacking in functionality and design?
A less-than-favorable mobile experience could be the cause of less-than-favorable search engine rankings too.
The Mobile-First Index
Beginning in 2016, Google started introducing what it dubbed the mobile-first index. Instead of ranking pages based on their content found on desktop (how traditional results were ranked), Google began ranking sites for their mobile content instead. This served as an indication that the search engine was favoring mobile experience and expects site owners to serve mobile-friendly content.
SEO consultants and developers alike are now trained to create rich mobile sites with the mobile-first index in mind. And one of the best ways to do so is to establish cohesion between desktop and mobile content.
Google has not yet unveiled the mobile-first index for every website yet, but it’s an expected trend more and more publishers will see. Be sure to check your Google Search Console dashboard to know if your site is enabled for the mobile-first index. The dashboard will also show areas of your site that can be better developed for mobile ranging from font sizes to images and the speed of your pages.
Speed Is Everything
When it comes to enhancing a site for mobile users, perhaps on of the most important things is to improve its speed. A variety of tactics can help speed up a site including:
- improving hosting environment
- limiting external resource calls
- calling external stylesheets
- reducing inline CSS
- optimizing image sizes
- utilizing CSS sprites
- leveraging browser caching
- minimize 301 redirects
Taking a thorough approach to each of these steps with a technical SEO audit will help identify areas of opportunity for speed enhancements.
To understand how quick (or slow) your site is, be sure to run it through GT Metrix. GT Metrix provides a waterfall of all elements that could slow a site down. Alternatively, Google offers its own tool with the same functionality called Pagespeed Insights.
Mobile SEO Considerations
Aside from a well-developed website with fast response times, there are a few additional things to consider for mobile SEO.
Adaptive vs. Responsive
At the beginning of the mobile revolution, many sites opted for an adaptive site. This type of site would use “m” as a subdomain at the beginning of the URL. For example, users would see m.site.com from mobile devices and www.site.com from desktop browsers. While this was common practice for a while, technologies improved as well as mobile development tactics.
The standard today and what is officially approved by Google is to go responsive. With a responsive site, developers use CSS to resize a site for any screen size. It creates a cohesive experience and ensures content is accessible from any device.
Developers are now also using progressive web apps (PWA) to deliver even faster experiences on mobile devices. A PWA offers an app like experience from within a browser, but it’s commonly faster than traditional mobile sites.
At a bare minimum, ensure your site is developed with a responsive design.
Do I Need A Mobile App?
A common question about enhancing mobile sites is the difference between mobile web development and app development. Plenty of businesses take part in both a mobile version of their site as well as an app that may have additional features. Depending on your type of business and the customers you serve, it may be best to have both or only focus on a mobile site.
In either case, both mobile pages and links to apps will rank in Google search results. Follow proper SEO methodology to title tags, descriptions, images, etc.
Mobile vs. Desktop Rankings
Because of the mobile-first index, rankings for mobile devices will differ from desktop rankings. Google evaluates the content differently for every site in the SERP, meaning users will see different results depending on the device they are using.
Remember to assess rankings for both devices when kicking off a new mobile SEO campaign. Knowing where the site ranks in mobile results provides an outline to the project and allows you to prioritize.
Pricing for Mobile SEO Campaigns
Due to the technical requirements of a mobile SEO campaign, we custom quote every new mobile project. We’ll take an in-depth approach to technical components of your site, fully understand your content management system, evaluate current mobile rankings and implement changes to improve your organic visibility in Google.