Mobile search is the future of search engine optimization (SEO).
According to research, almost 60% of all online searches are now being performed on a mobile device. This shows that as Google’s search algorithm constantly evolves, so are users’ search habits.
Mobile-friendly websites are becoming vital for businesses to thrive online with the increasing usage of mobile devices and apps.
This guide walks you through everything you need to know about mobile SEO– what it means for your business and how you can start optimizing for mobile visibility today.
Table of Contents
An Introduction to Mobile SEO
By 2025, roughly 73% of internet users will use their phones only to access the web.
What does this mean for marketers and business owners?
SEO for mobile sites is a huge opportunity to connect with customers in the long run. And if you're not optimizing your site for mobile, it will be harder to get noticed.
Mobile SEO is optimizing your site and content to rank better in search engine results for mobile devices, like smartphones, tablets, and other smaller-screen devices.
Mobile SEO helps you ensure your site is optimized for search engines like Google and Bing, which are more likely to rank web pages higher when optimized for mobile devices.
When you perform mobile search engine optimization, think about how users will interact with your site.
Do they need to view something on their phone as soon as possible? Or could they click through and read it later?
And if you're not optimizing your site for mobile, it will be harder to get noticed.
On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO for Mobile: What’s the Difference?
There are two different methods for improving your site’s performance: on-page and off-page SEO.
Simply put, on-page SEO entails techniques to optimize website features under your control, whereas off-page takes place outside of the site itself.
On-page optimization takes place when you are working on your website's content.
Some factors that can affect your site’s on-page SEO are:
- Page speed
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- HTML headers
- Content quality
- Image alt text
- Internal links
On the other hand, off-page SEO refers to the other factors contributing to how well a website ranks in Google and other search engines.
Two primary ways this occurs are via organic search results and paid search ads.
Organic search results are based on the work of Google's algorithm.
Some factors that can impact your off-page SEO are:
- Social media presence
- Unlinked mentions
What Does a Mobile-Friendly SEO Look Like?
Mobile websites that take more than five seconds to load show a 70% lower session rate. And that’s not all —a one-second delay can make your conversion drop by 20%.
This is why you should prioritize the user experience in your mobile search engine optimization.
A mobile-friendly SEO should be able to do the following:
- Ensure text is legible and readable at any size
- Optimize images and other media to fit better on smaller screens, so they'll load faster and look better
- Make it easy for visitors to find what they're looking for on your site, regardless of the device they're using
- Demonstrate that the content is relevant to the search query
- It should be responsive and can scale to fit any screen
- Help search engines identify that your site is mobile-friendly, so they can properly rank it in search results
- Allow users to interact with your site through touch, like scrolling or pinching, or by clicking on links
3 Tools to Use to Test SEO for Mobile Sites
- Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test: This is a free tool that you can use to check how mobile-friendly your site is. All you need to do is paste your site’s URL or code, and it will analyze its design in minutes.
- PageSpeed Insights: PageSpeed Insights is another free tool by Google. It shows you screenshots of how your website looks on mobile. This tool also provides you with speed scores for mobile and desktop, so you can see if it meets Google’s speed standards.
- MobiReady: MobiReady is an online tool that lets you know if your website is ready for mobile devices by giving it a score ranging from one to five.
The Best Practices to Achieve Good SEO for Your Mobile Site
Make Your Design Responsive
A mobile version of your site is not enough. You need to make your entire design responsive.
The first step towards good SEO for your mobile site is to make your website’s design responsive.
A responsive website automatically adapts to different screen sizes and devices, allowing users to browse your site comfortably on any device.
You can do this in many ways – from basic resizing and repositioning images and text to creating fluid grid designs, where elements will grow or shrink based on the screen size.
Boost Your Website's Speed
If your website loads slowly, Google will penalize it. Slow websites can also cost you a lot in customer retention and conversion rates.
Make your site load faster by following a few simple steps:
- Start by optimizing the images on your site and compressing them.
- Integrate your images with ALT texts to make them accessible.
- Host your website on a server that’s optimized for speed.
- Alternatively, you can use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) service to speed up your website.
Optimize the Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
As with desktop websites, title tags and meta descriptions are critical parts of SEO for mobile sites.
Keep the titles short and sweet. The average click-through rate of a mobile search result is only about one-third that of a desktop listing.
Therefore, you need to put more effort into drawing in potential customers. Your meta descriptions often decide between readers clicking through to your site or leaving it.
Ensure they’re compelling enough to entice readers to click. The top part of your pages should contain your targeted keywords.
Focus on User Experience
The goal of SEO should be to drive more visitors to your site. However, you can’t just rely on increasing your traffic.
You also need to ensure that your readers stay on your site and convert. This means creating content that answers your readers’ questions and provides value.
To keep readers engaged, you should design your mobile site thumb-friendly. This will help readers easily navigate your site and find what they're looking for.
For instance, if you have an eCommerce website, ensure that its mobile version has clickable links and clear call-to-actions, such as Add to Cart or Buy Now.
Keep your fonts legible. Many users choose to browse the internet on their mobile devices while on the move. If they can’t easily read your content, they will be more likely to abandon your site.
Avoid Flash and Pop-Ups
Flash is not supported on mobile devices. This means that you shouldn’t use it on your mobile site.
If you do, you’ll miss out on many potential users. There’s also a good chance that Google will penalize you.
Pop-ups are another thing you should avoid. This is because they aren’t relevant to users. They’re also likely to scare them away. The last thing you want is to lose potential customers.
Create a Separate Mobile URL
Your desktop site and mobile site may have different audiences. However, having a mobile-specific version of your site is good SEO practice.
For example, if your main site is www.example.com, you can create a mobile-specific version of your site at m.example.com.
This will ensure that you optimize your site for both types of users. It will also help you avoid any issues with duplicate content.
You can also use subdomains to create a mobile version of your site. For example, if your main site is www.example.com, you can create a mobile site at m.example.com. This is an excellent strategy to keep your original site intact.
Create Mobile Content
The content doesn't need to be entirely new, but it should be more concise than your desktop version.
Ensure that it’s targeting the correct keywords. You can use tools like the Google Keyword Planner to find relevant keywords for your site.
You can then create titles, subheadings, and meta descriptions using these keywords.
Moreover, use keywords appropriately throughout the content, but don't over-optimize your site. This will only make your content seem spammy and unnatural.
A Definitive Guide to Mobile SEO: Final Words
If your business has a mobile website, you're already one step ahead of many small companies without online presence.
But even if your business has a mobile site, it will only appear in Google or Bing search results if you have good SEO.
Mobile SEO will help you attract new visitors and keep your existing customers loyal.
However, mobile search engines constantly change their algorithms to adapt to new user trends, content, and other factors.
Businesses must stay on top of changes to maintain visibility for their mobile site.
You need to optimize your mobile website for those search engines to get high rankings in mobile search results.
Most importantly, the key to effective mobile SEO is always prioritizing the user experience.