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The basics of mobile SEO

The basics of mobile SEO

In a world increasingly driven by technology, it’s vital to adapt your search engine optimisation (SEO) to ensure your website works effectively on platforms other than desktops. Mobile SEO is the process of making sure that customers visiting your site on a mobile device get the best experience possible.

Why is mobile SEO important?

Chances are, right now, your smartphone is somewhere nearby. The same goes for a majority of potential consumers. 87% of adults in the UK own smartphones, and 81% of those frequently use their phone to search for information about certain services and goods. In fact, mobile devices account for more than half of all global website traffic.

As you can see, there’s a huge potential for traffic on your mobile site. However, poorly optimised sites can put customers off from making transactions. Frustratingly slow page loading, for one, can cause people to give up.

And what about finding you in the first place? Well, that’s all about Google. Years of optimising searches for mobile device users means that Google now places a huge amount of value on how your mobile site works.

Blue mobile screen

Google’s mobile-first index

Every so often, Google updates their ranking algorithms. Keeping up with them is the way to improve your search engine result page (SERP) ranking and gain more traffic.

In 2015, Google launched an algorithm designed to reward mobile-friendly sites. As a result, sites that weren’t mobile-friendly greatly suffered in the rankings. And in 2016, Google announced they would go on to solely catalogue the mobile version of a page’s content rather than the desktop version.

This mobile-first indexing approach reflects how vital mobile searches are and how much difference mobile SEO can make.

Best practices for mobile SEO

So, how can you optimise your mobile site to help your business climb those SERP rankings? If you’re unsure how your mobile site measures up, you can check on Google’s handy Search Console tool or Mobile-friendly Test. Either of these will let you know whether or not users have trouble using your website on their mobile devices.

Following that, here are a few ways you can improve your mobile SEO:

Improve page speed

As previously mentioned, page speed can have a massive impact on your customers. When browsing the web on a device, we generally want instant results. But connectivity and hardware issues mean that page speed is even more important for mobile users than those on desktop.

To optimise your page speed and retain the site visitor’s attention, you want to ensure that images are in the correct file formats and aren’t bigger than they need to be. You can also reduce redirects, minify your code and enable file compression. All this will improve your page speeds and keep customers engaged.

Design your site for mobile

As well as optimising your page speed, you want to make sure your site is designed for scrolling on a mobile screen.

Avoiding Flash and intrusive pop-ups can help — the Flash plugin isn’t available on all devices, and pop-ups can be frustrating to close, leading to a higher bounce rate. As well as disrupting the user’s visit, intrusive pop-ups can damage your organic search rankings, with Google devaluing mobile sites that use them.

It’s also a good idea to check CTA button sizes. Are they suitable for scrolling thumbs? Buttons that are too small or get in the way of scrolling can cause visitors to bounce, too.

Responsive web design

Responsive design consolidates your mobile and desktop content under a single URL. Mobile users get the same content and code, but the flexible design automatically adapts the page to fit the size of the user’s screen.

If all the visitor can see is a tiny version of your desktop site, they’re less likely to stick around. Equally, it’s important to make sure no content is cut off or missing on a mobile device screen. Responsive web design makes your site user-friendly and avoids redirects which can cause slow loading and disrupt your SEO.

Optimise meta titles and meta descriptions

A smaller screen space means users are more discerning when it comes to clicking on sites based on their SERP meta descriptions.

Front-load your keywords and make sure your meta description includes the essential information. It’s best to be as concise as possible whilst catching the searcher’s eye. Any visible copy on the SERP needs to be as enticing as possible.

Optimise for local searches

88% of mobile device searches for local businesses call or visit the business within 24 hours. If your company has a local angle, then applying local SEO practices to your mobile site is incredibly worthwhile.

Consider voice searches

Whether it’s because they’re searching on the go, have their hands full or just don’t fancy using their thumbs, it’s clear that voice searching is an increasingly popular way to find web content.

Voice searches take information from “featured snippets.” The snippets are short — an average of 29 words — which means your content needs to be concise and to the point. Think about the user intent when writing sections such as meta descriptions.

It’s also helpful to use long-tail keywords and questions in headings. Voice searches tend to use longer phrases, mimicking human speech patterns. Employing these in your content will help potential customers find you via a voice search.

Think about the user’s journey

As with your desktop site, you want your mobile content to reflect your customer’s journey. Who are they, and why are they on your site? What do they want, and what will their next step be?

Your site navigation should be intuitive, so the visitor can easily get to where they want to be, rather than clicking around or having to search within your site. Much of this is about market research, finding your target audience and creating a logical path.

Consider any issues they might come across — for example, having to scroll too far to get to key information or clicking on elements that don’t function properly.

Optimised mobile sites

No matter what kind of business you run, improving your mobile SEO can greatly support your customer traffic. With busy audiences who are always on the go and want instant results, searches on mobile devices are a convenient option. You can get more information about SEO on a broader level on our SEO Hub.

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