Home » Mobile SEO: Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Users

Mobile SEO: Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Users

by Charlee

Mobile internet reached a significant milestone in 2015 when it surpassed desktop usage for the first time ever. It has far and away become the most popular medium for internet access the world over, with 68% of users using mobile devices as opposed to 47% who use desktops. The usage continues to dominate with the ratio steadily increasing. Because of this, Google has taken action to alter its algorithm to be mobile-centric. In 2018, Google provided its “Mobile-First Indexing” update which affects mechanisms of how content is crawled, indexed, and ranked. These changes come as a reflection of the deep-seated influence mobile usage has claimed upon online trends within the past decade. Google had already implemented steps before in making the internet a mobile-friendly environment. In 2016, it decreed that sites which possessed mobile interstitials would not rank as highly within search results. The culmination of these changes only foreshadows the fact that mobile usage will continue to define the future of online content. This makes a very compelling argument as to why mobile SEO service is becoming increasingly more necessary to survive within the fast-paced and ever-changing environment within the internet and technology. The most obvious reason as to why one should opt to transition into mobile SEO is the need to conform with changes in user behavior. Traditionally, SEO was targeted towards a unified version of a site which would be accessible across all devices. Now we are within an era of there being separate desktop and mobile versions of sites, the latter being in response to the expanding mobile user demographic. Note that it is specified by Google to have a responsive design on the content, while having a mobile site is still acceptable. It is relatively easy to maintain indexing and ranking parity with a solo URL, and it also avoids the common fault of having a less than feature-rich mobile site, provided that structured data and meta-information is carried through to the mobile version. This change allows content to be developed between mobile and desktop, more suitably catering to user needs on respective devices. With the Mobile-First Index, it is only certain that there will be a stronger preference for mobile responsive sites. Failure to adopt changes such as these will only serve to deplete current user traffic, possibly even facing a loss in user engagement, seeing as it has been stated that mobile users tend to have higher bounce rates when being redirected to sites of desktop indexing.

Importance of Mobile SEO

This is a high tech era and today’s people are so much dependent on the smartphone and mobiles. They usually prefer mobile as a best source of information and they want instant results from this. Mobile SEO definitely helps the marketer who wants to nurture his business to grow at a rapid pace and wants to earn profit from it. An efficient mobile SEO is necessary to maintain a high positioning in the mobile search results. If you’ve already got a website that’s SEO friendly, you’re already ahead of half the game, but you’re going to also want to create a website specifically designed for mobile to make sure your web content shows up in mobile search results. In addition, mobile websites are becoming heavily favored over standard websites when it comes to viewing web content on a mobile device. A recent study shows that 2 out of 5 people who own a mobile device are using it to access web content and more and more visitors are getting their hands on your website using mobile devices. Having a site designed for mobile users will greatly benefit your business and will not only help you capture new visitors, but will also help you maintain your current visitors. Nowadays the competition has grown fierce and without a properly designed mobile website, you could potentially lose visitors to a competitor who has made their website more mobile friendly. With easy access to mobile website development alternatives, there’s no excuse why your website shouldn’t have a mobile counterpart. The first step is making sure your web content shows up in mobile search results. Making sure your web content is indexed and shows up in mobile search results is crucial because without mobile visibility and ranking, your website will go unseen by the rapidly growing number of mobile users. With the newer 3G and 4G wireless networks, trends show that mobile users are continuously rising and the use of mobile devices is now becoming a part of everyday living. This is a media where one can engage with users when they are on the move, using short, yet insightful information. Users seeking consumer information are likely to make a purchase, with the on the go media provided by mobile SEO, potential buyers can easily locate your business locale and obtain additional details via GPS and other mobile based applications.

Benefits of Optimizing for Mobile Users

Optimizing for mobile users can provide many advantages. The most obvious is an increase in visibility. A site that is mobile-friendly can be displayed to mobile users in search engine result pages, with an AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) label. Implementing AMP is a good way to make mobile content faster and easier to access. AMP pages can be displayed in a carousel of rich cards in mobile search results. These rich cards can even include the display of ads, enhancing the prominence of your site’s content and providing a way to get your content viewed by users that are specifically searching on mobile devices. AMP functionality supports various ad formats, ad networks, and technologies. AMP-site owners can control the type of content and ads that are supported and can visualize the effect on their site’s speed. AMP provides an online AMP test to make it easy for site owners to check whether their pages are AMP-valid. AMP also provides detailed documentation, instructional videos, and a rich set of AMP components for implementation. AMP components make it easy to create feature-rich content and speed up content development and debugging. AMP includes built-in support for analytics, and third-party analytics providers can easily integrate their tools on AMP pages. AMP provides a great way to support off-site content with features such as Google’s AMP Viewer and the recent release of signed exchanges which allow cached AMP content to be displayed under the site owner’s URL. AMP is a powerful tool for mobile SEO with the potential to greatly increase visibility and user engagement. AMP functions not just to benefit mobile users but for the general enhancement of web content on all platforms.

Mobile optimization is important, and it should be a top priority for companies in all industries. The number of users browsing the internet from mobile devices has now surpassed the number of desktop users. It’s crucial to provide a seamless, high-quality experience for users engaging with your site from mobile devices. Mobile optimization has a large impact on SEO. Google has, in the past, made algorithm changes that favor mobile-friendly sites. As of January 2018, Google has begun to make their index mobile-first. This means that Google will predominantly use the mobile version of a site for indexing and ranking. Failure to have a mobile-friendly site can negatively impact your SEO.

Understanding Mobile SEO

SEO is the practice of optimizing your website for users on mobile devices as well as tablets. It concentrates on site design, site structure, page speed, and more. These factors are vital and cannot be ignored in order to make the website load faster, more usable, and findable for users with mobile devices. This can also include on and off-site tactics that help search engines understand what your website is about and boost the visibility of the site in the search engine result page (SERP). Mobile search engine results are different compared to desktop search engine result pages. The search engines have recognized the growth of mobile usage and are now taking action to provide better results for mobile searchers. In November 2016, Google announced a mobile-first index that they will be launching. This means that the search index will provide search results based on the mobile version of a website, which is a significant change from what we have been used to with search engines. For any website, it will be essential to make sure that your site is optimized for mobile and that the mobile and desktop versions have equivalent content and structured data markup. If a website has AMP or separate mobile URLs, they should go through the structured data testing tool and check if their mobile and desktop pages match. The mobile-first index is anticipated to have a substantial impact, as it will be the index that is primarily utilized by Google and will serve as the primary index used to respond to any search queries. There is still much we need to know about this new development from Google, but we can predict that there will be huge implications for mobile search, and it has never been more important to have a strong mobile SEO campaign.

Definition of Mobile SEO

Mobile SEO is the practice of optimizing your website for users on smartphones and tablets. When you are optimizing a website for mobile users, you are focusing on delivering the best experience possible for the visitor. In 2018 alone, studies discovered that 52.2% of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones. With over half of all traffic being generated from a mobile device, it’s extremely crucial to ensure that your site is fully optimized for mobile users. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re likely to lose visitors and potential customers who will simply ‘bounce’ from your site if it’s not meeting their needs. In efforts to urge website owners to make the move to a more mobile-friendly website, Google announced in 2018 that they will be rolling out mobile-first indexing. This means that Google will predominantly use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. Statistics such as those mentioned above, combined with Google’s announcement of mobile-first indexing, suggest that mobile SEO is a crucial digital marketing strategy and will only continue to grow in importance. Due to the mobile-first indexing initiative, it’s critical that your website is optimized and ready for this change, as failure to do so could result in a negative impact to your site’s ranking and indexing.

Key Factors for Mobile Optimization

Traditionally, access to the internet has been through fixed-line services on laptops or desktop computers. With advances in technology and the growing ownership of smartphones, tablet PCs, and other mobile devices with internet browsing capabilities, the way people access online information is rapidly changing. The recent announcement from Google that it will now start to experiment using mobile-first indexing illustrates the growing significance of mobile SEO. This is a logical move, as it is predicted that mobile search will overtake desktop search in the next year or so. But what does mobile-first indexing mean? In Google’s own words, it means that the “mobile version of your website becomes the starting point for what Google includes in their index, and the baseline for how they determine rankings.” This, in itself, shows the importance of mobile optimization, and being informed with this recent change will be essential in the coming months.

To gain a better understanding of mobile SEO, it is important to develop an appreciation of the key factors involved in mobile optimization. This includes comprehending why people conduct mobile searches, how this differs from desktop searching, what mobile searchers are seeking, and how these factors relate to mobile search outcomes.

Mobile-Friendly Design Principles

Make navigation easy. Mobile user interfaces are often more restricted than the interfaces of desktop computers. When designing mobile web interfaces, it’s better to stick with conventions than to create a unique interface that users will have to learn. Because of this, it’s usually fairly easy to design intuitive interfaces for mobile web apps, if you keep things simple. When deciding on a particular design pattern, emphasize ease of use over visual appeal and keep in mind the differences in devices.

Keep it simple. Avoid creating overly complex web designs for mobile users. They generally want information quickly without having to spend time “figuring out” your website. Use simple HTML and avoid Flash on mobile websites. Flash is a processor hog and is not supported by many mobile devices. Keep file sizes small. Time is money, especially with mobile users. If a site takes too long to load, many users will just exit the site. Simplicity is key when developing for mobile. A no-frills site that works well will provide much more value than a site with unnecessary features or design.

A mobile-friendly website should provide the most essential features to mobile users in a clean and efficient manner. Try to think of mobile designs first when developing your web design strategy. Begin with a mobile stylesheet (or use CSS3 media queries) to apply conditional formatting to your website. If mobile users are detecting visiting your website, send them to the mobile site by using a redirect.

Implementing Mobile SEO Strategies

Mobile website speed optimization is crucial to the success of a mobile website. In the past, mobile websites have been notoriously slow. In 2009, Google released a study showing 80% of mobile site visitors would leave if they have a bad experience. Although there have been improvements in recent years, mobile network speeds and the smartphone technology itself still have limitations. Because of this, it is important to design a fast site that will load properly on all mobile devices. Google has recommended that a page load time of 1s or less and best practices to reduce server response times for mobile users. High-performance web pages are preferred, and a high-performance web page that loads in 1 second is the same whether it is viewed on a desktop or a mobile device. To ensure that mobile users are served high-quality pages and given the best experience, it is important to serve them different resources. Google has recommended using responsive web design to make the same HTML code on the same URL work across different devices. Other methods such as creating a separate mobile site with its own URL or dynamic serving (where the server responds with different HTML on the same URL depending on the user agent) are less preferable because of their errors and the difficulties in maintaining them. Whether it is building a new mobile site or optimizing an existing site, Google has provided a comprehensive guide for building smartphone-optimized sites.

After you have gained an understanding of mobile user habits, the next step is to incorporate mobile SEO strategies and tools. Because of the differences between mobile and desktop keyword research, it is important to focus on mobile-specific keywords. When conducting keyword research for mobile users, utilizing Google’s keyword tool will allow you to view the global and local monthly search volumes for keywords. Filters can be set to show only the data related to mobile devices. Similar to traditional keyword research, it is best to target keywords with high search volume and low competition. Short-tail keywords (1-2 words) generally work best, and it is important to remember that user intent is often much clearer when searchers are using mobile phones. Implementing click-to-call is a tactic that is often beneficial.

Keyword Research for Mobile Users

One important aspect about mobile users is how akin they are to local search. With this in mind, keyword research should be based around the use of local keywords. The Google AdWords Keyword tool does have a mobile search filter, which when investigated can give good ideas for keywords with less competition. Another method of keyword research for mobile users is looking at your own analytics data and noting what people have searched for when finding your site. With a bit of CSS and/or JavaScript knowledge, AJAX can also be used as a method of tracking which keywords drive visitors to each individual page on your site so you can optimize them further based on user intent.

Mobile SEO is a mixed bag when it comes to optimizing for mobile devices, and with so many different mobile handsets becoming more and more ubiquitous, it can be quite a challenge to ensure that all your potential mobile visitors are being catered for. One particular piece of the mobile SEO puzzle which is still discernible by its absence in many mobile SEO services is that of keyword research. With the albeit significantly smaller screen sizes to work with, many assume that traditional SEO and keyword research will suffice for mobile.

Mobile Website Speed Optimization

The oft-quoted “4-second barrier” is a generalisation of this idea. On numerous occasions, research has indicated that mobile users will wait about 4 seconds for a page to load before abandoning the task. A 2009 report claims that mobile users have become more demanding despite no significant changes in their on-the-go access to the internet. The most recent tests show that mobile users today expect the pages to load as fast, if not faster, than they would on a desktop computer; and given the comparison in hardware this is a rather unrealistic expectation. This effectively means that if a mobile website is not fast by today’s standards, it is slow. Essentially, mobile web users have become so accustomed to near-instant access on their high-powered home and work computers that they expect the same standards to be met even when they are using a 3G mobile connection. A slow mobile website is going to severely impact the amount of page retrievals it gets and in turn, their search engine referrals.

Optimising the speed at which your mobile website loads is an essential aspect of mobile SEO. Significant amounts of research have proved that mobile internet users are an exceedingly impatient bunch. Mobile web surfers tend to be more focused on the task at hand compared to PC web surfers who tend to meander around occasionally in search of entertainment. The likelihood of a mobile web user abandoning their task is far higher than that of a PC user. This is due to the fact that people are becoming conditioned to instant gratification since the internet has evolved to provide solutions and satisfy needs in an expedient manner.

Responsive Design and Mobile-Friendly Content

There is a big rise in the users using mobile devices to access the internet and it keeps on increasing day by day. Mobile users are around 40% of the total internet users and it is very crucial to optimize websites for mobile users. Google clearly suggests webmasters to optimize sites for mobile users and has also indicated in rolling out mobile friendly sites affecting the search results. Mobile optimized websites will attract more visitors and mobile search will convey intent rich traffic to your business. The increase in mobile search means that mobile users are now connected with a greater range of intent driven outcomes and they are often ready to act on that intent, whether it is a download, a purchase or information sharing. In order to obtain traffic and conversions driven by mobile search, it is wise to consider a mobile user’s intent. In some cases content sought by desktop and mobile users may be the same, but the format in which the content is displayed or the specific information a mobile user seeks may vary given the scenario of their search. One of the most important phases in this process is recognizing the type of mobile site that you want to construct. According to Google Webmaster guidelines there are three main types of mobile sites with each having a different mobile URL and it is very important to choose the best approach that meets your goals. This can range from making changes to your site’s configuration that makes it more mobile friendly, to setting up a new mobile site. But the most recommended way is to use a responsive design which serves the same content on the same URL and the same HTML, regardless of the user’s device, but it will render the display differently based on the screen size. This is Google’s recommended configuration and the most popular method to create a mobile site. This way, it is easier for Google to understand and index your content. With responsive design, it saves time when Googlebot crawls your site. This is because it is more efficient for Google to crawl and index the site content that is on one URL and with responsive design there is no need to worry about the Googlebot user agent getting the wrong content as it is on different sites.

Local SEO for Mobile Users

The common theme found recently in search engine algorithm updates has been that they are being designed to provide users with the information that they are seeking in a more efficient manner. Because of this, it becomes increasingly important for local businesses to provide accurate and up-to-date information for search engines to display to users. In making sure that information is current and easily accessible, businesses increase the likelihood that the information will reach its intended audience. An easy way to do this is to create a mobile XML sitemap that has location information tagged with KML to make it easier for search engines to index the information. Creating a mobile-specific site will also allow for information to be displayed in a more clear and concise manner. This should, in turn, make the site easier to navigate for users as well.

In many cases, mobile users browsing the internet are looking for information that is location specific. This could be any number of things – a restaurant, a movie theater, a dry cleaner, you name it. The point is, when a mobile user is looking for information adjacent to a physical location by using mobile search software, they are quite likely to be looking for local information. In a recent study, it was reported that roughly 70% of mobile searches are location-based. In contrast, only about 30% of desktop searches have local intent. This ties back to an earlier point in the article that if mobile users are more likely to be looking for local results, then it is important for websites to make use of mobile-specific SEO. Now more than ever, local businesses should be taking steps to optimize their site for mobile users.

Mobile SEO Services by Sotavento Medios

Sotavento Medios is a Singaporean digital marketing agency that has had great success in helping clients launch their mobile sites and provoking consumers to engage with companies through the use of mobile SEO. Sotavento Medios states that their goal is to leverage technology to create value for their customers, delivering products and solutions with ROI and providing innovation for better results.

Mobile SEO Services Offered

Sotavento’s mobile SEO services are most likely suited to businesses or organizations that have a mobile version of their site or are looking to build one. These services will also provide a strong competitive advantage to those targeting mobile searchers, a market that SEOs and webmasters of normal websites have not been prioritizing up until recent times, despite the rapid growth of mobile internet usage.

The onsite mobile SEO takes into account all search factors related to the mobile site and combines these with research on mobile users’ search habits to provide a strategic plan to increase the mobile site’s search rankings. Offsite mobile SEO looks at increasing the visibility and ranking of the mobile site through mobile search engines and searchers using search engines on their mobile, through to increasing the mobile site’s visibility when users access the web through their mobile and are presented with normal search listings. This is achieved through mobile site search engine and mobile web SEO.

In addition to regular SEO services, Sotavento Medios has developed a strong expertise in mobile SEO and offers a range of services to help their clients tap into this rapidly growing market. The strong growth of smartphone penetration in recent years and the changing habits of consumers to using their mobile devices to search for information “on the go” means that it is becoming increasingly important to have an online presence which is optimized for mobile users.

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