How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile SEO
To understand just how rapidly mobile is being used as the chief purchasing medium by consumers globally, consider the following statement: less than two decades ago, smartphones didn’t exist and the internet was only accessible via desktop devices. In 2015, Google announced that mobile internet searches had finally exceeded those of desktop for the first time.
Driven by convenience, smartphones ushered into a new age of consumerism – one that introduced new and unique challenges for businesses around the globe. Google’s Mobile Movement Study revealed how 81% of smartphone owners access the internet via their mobile devices and 95% of those are searching for local information and ready to make purchases.
Unfortunately, many businesses have been unable to provide a superior mobile experience for customers and have websites that are slow, inefficient or simply lack quality content. The millennial generation is used to accessing information quickly. According to research, 53% of mobile shoppers will actually abandon a website that fails to load in under 3 seconds, underlining the importance of website optimization for successful mobile SEO.
Industry giants such as Amazon account for 43% of all online sales and invest huge amounts into optimizing their web pages. In this blog, we’ll present a small guide on how to optimize your website for mobile and boost your overall revenue and growth.
Differences between Mobile and Desktop SEO
In case you’re wondering, mobile and desktop SEO are not alike. There are several differences that set them apart. One of these differences is the amount of text present on each web page. For desktop web pages, having around 250 words is ideal. However, since smartphones obviously have smaller screens, having lesser content on each page is more convenient for the user.
Another difference is how keywords are used to search for information. For desktop searches, incorporating keywords is best practice since these words are most likely to be used by consumers. On the other hand, mobile searches may or may not use keywords due to the increasingly popular use of voice-activated search tools.
Algorithms used, to search mobile-based websites are different from desktop and since the list of search results is smaller per page, not making it in the top 4 might result in your website not even making it to the first page!
Apart from common ranking factors such as descriptions, links, titles, and content, Google’s search engines also consider several other factors including:
- Local SEO: Local SEO is crucial for any business that has a physical presence. Since users carry their smartphones with them wherever they go, they’re the primary source for finding places to shop. Local SEO allows businesses to have a stronger presence online and should be a key part of your online strategy.
- Speed: As mentioned earlier, website speed is more important for mobile SEO than desktop. Google considers it to be a major factor when deciding how high to list a website in their search results.
- Ad Placements: No one likes to open a mobile website only to be greeted by endless ads and neither does Google. If you’re using advertising platforms such as AdSense then it’s best to be extra cautious and not go against any of Google’s ad placement
- Layout and Accessibility: Google’s algorithm considers whether mobile websites can render properly without right and left scrollbars and have large enough text and buttons that can be viewed without having to zoom in or out. Images are also a positive addition but having an excessive amount can slow down the page speed. A webpage should average 4 images.
It’s interesting to note that unlike desktop websites, mobile web pages are judged on an individual basis so having one or two non-friendly pages won’t be disastrous to your overall SEO campaign.
Optimizing Mobile SEO
According to BigCommerce, 1 in every 4 dollars spent online is through mobile and if your website isn’t providing visitors with a seamless experience, you’re losing a massive opportunity for business growth and development. With the mobile web constantly evolving, here are a few steps to optimize your website for increased traffic:
Leverage Your Social Media Marketing Efforts
The total number of social media users is expected to exceed a whopping 3 billion by 2021, according to Statista. After search engines, popular social media platforms rank second in generating the most amount of traffic online. Making smart use of your social media marketing campaigns is sure to divert a significant amount of traffic to your website.
Users that follow your social media pages do so because they’re interested in one or more of the products or services your business has to offer. Promoting your website on social media platforms makes it easier to target the right audience and increase the number of potential customers. Before doing so, make sure your social media account(s) also include mobile URLs allowing users to bookmark the site for future reference.
Make Your Websites Highly Responsive
By responsive websites we mean creating a mobile-friendly web design that reacts perfectly to the users’ device size. Regardless of the browser, the layout and content should adjust perfectly with the screen. Incorporating these features allows online visitors to browse your mobile website with ease without having to deal with the hassle of zooming in and out or having to utilize side scrolling.
Responsiveness and convenience are important considerations for both search engine crawlers and customers. Both factors must be reflected in your website’s performance and layout if you wish to edge closer to the top spot in search engine rankings. In fact, Google has announced and reiterated time after time how it plans to reward websites that are responsive and developed for multi-device functionality.
An added benefit of having a responsive mobile website is that it saves precious time during updates. Also, it’s far easier for developers to maintain and update one website rather than work separately on the mobile version as well.
Effectively Utilize E-mail Marketing Campaigns
According to research published by the web-usability research institute Baymard, almost 70% of all shopping carts are abandoned before the customer completes the purchase. This doesn’t happen because the customer somehow becomes disinterested in your products. Rather, it’s due to them being easily distracted while shopping on a mobile device or simply intending to complete the purchase later.
To combat the problem of shopping cart abandonment, incorporate an email marketing strategy during the purchasing process. When customers leave items in their shopping carts, send them an email allowing them to complete the purchase later. Such a strategy opens the opportunity to send special product links and offers as part of the email.
Increase the probability of a sale by also mentioning special discounts and offers that are available to those customers that email the shopping cart to themselves. According to SalesCycle, almost half of all recovery emails are opened with over one-third resulting in sales.
Part of the reason behind the success of email marketing is that it solves a problem for customers who wish to seek advice from friends and family before making a purchase. It’s also a convenience factor for customers that wish to finalize the purchase from their desktop.
Make Navigation Easier
A website that makes navigation confusing for the visitors stands little chance of converting them into customers. Your primary focus should be on developing a simple and streamlined layout that delivers a positive user experience. Visitors shouldn’t have to spend too much time searching for key information – it should be readily available on the home page.
It helps to understand the mindset and context of customers accessing your mobile website. If they’re using their smartphones, then it’s logical to assume that they’re on the move. Unlike surfing via a desktop, they don’t have time to spend browsing through multiple web pages and are on the lookout for immediate solutions.
Your job as a service provider is to make navigating through the website easy. This includes viewing web pages through the customers perspective and making sure that all buttons and links are easily clickable, and that text and images are positioned appropriately. It also helps to add drop-down menus that eliminate the need to type.
Typing on mobile devices is time-consuming and it’s easy to commit typing errors. Incorporating helpful features such as touch feedback that changes the color of buttons or text when selected reassures users that they’ve selected the right option.
Incorporating Accelerated Mobile Pages
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) was announced by Google back in 2015 as the new standard for the development of faster and improved mobile pages. The initiative was the result of discussions with companies around the world on how to improve the performance of mobile web pages. The idea was to create a code that enabled websites to appear across all platforms regardless of the type of phone or tablet being used to access them.
Without explicitly stating so, Google let major news publishers and social media platforms assume that AMP-supportive websites would receive a ranking boost.
With that being said, why should your business care about accelerated mobile pages? It’s because AMP benefits mobile SEO in several ways.
Firstly, AMP boosts a mobile website’s overall performance and ensures that it runs faster. As we’ve already understood, faster pages not only provide a better user experience but are also favored by Google’s search algorithm. Faster load times results in users spending more time on your mobile website, interacting more with your offerings, and reading more of your content.
Secondly, since Google is pushing hard for websites to adopt AMP, not doing so will put you behind your competitors who by now have already adopted it as part of their mobile SEO strategy. Which brings us to the question: what exactly is Accelerated Mobile Pages?
Keeping the technical aspects aside, for every web page your mobile website has, you’ll also have to create one with the necessary AMP tag. It’s like a standard HTML but possesses a specific structure.
For example, let’s say you have a webpage with the URL: http://www.mywebpage.com/product/books. Your AMP page will have the URL: http://www.mywebpage.com/AMP/product/books. This page will contain all the important tag information required by search engines to identify the AMP equivalent of your main web page.
It’s worth mentioning that WordPress was one of the few first platforms that supported AMP. In exchange, they developed a plug-in that made it easier for AMP to operate on WordPress websites. So, it’ll help your cause to have AMP implemented for your mobile website.
Mistakes to Avoid for Mobile-Friendly Websites
Now that you’re aware of how to optimize your website for mobile SEO, it’s worth knowing what not to do. The following are a few mistakes to avoid.
This one’s obvious, but there are a good number of webmasters out there that allow bugs and errors to remain on a webpage dragging it down the search rankings. If your site still has issues that require fixing, it’s highly likely that visitors will encounter non-existing page 404 errors and faulty redirects leading back to the website’s desktop version.
Don’t let such problems persist for long, otherwise you’ll make navigating through your website an absolute nightmare for visitors.
Unfortunately, most mobile browsers do not support Flash content and are unable to display it. While the issue is expected to be resolved soon, incorporating Flash on your website will cause the content to not appear for mobile users and be penalized by Google for content that is hidden.
If there’s one thing that unites desktop and mobile users, it’s the collective hate for excessive pop-ups. Intrusive boxes shamelessly asking for personal details. It’s more frustrating for smartphones as the small screen size mean a single popup can block an entire website’s worth of content. Since Google’s knows this very well (we might as well ask at this point: what does Google not know?), it severely penalizes mobile websites that flood visitors with unwanted pop-ups.
Really Small Font size
Unless you’re creating a webpage for ants, keeping a large font size is recommended or you’ll force visitors to squint down on their smartphones – and no one likes doing that. A desktop website isn’t catered for mobile devices and makes the text unreadable. The recommended font size is 16 pt. and anything lower might just cause potential visitors to leave your webpage as soon as they arrive.
Really Small Touch Buttons
Like small text, creating small touch elements on your webpage like checkboxes and buttons makes it harder for users to click on them. Trying to hit a tiny button only a few pixels wide will increase users’ frustration and cause conversion rates to fall.
Using Keywords in External Links
Using keywords in external links could end up compromising your SEO efforts and end up benefitting your competitors. Putting keywords in the anchor text can cause search engines’ algorithm to mistake the outbound link with a keyword and grant it more relevance to the topic than your own webpage!
Too Many Internal Links
Mobile pages have far less internal links compared to their desktop counterparts. The primary reason behind this is to improve the user experience and existing limitations on size and content. Likewise, placing too many internal links on a mobile web page increases the chance of miss-clicks.
Although desktop sites still contain more words per page as compared to mobile sites, the gap seems to shrink with each passing day. Despite this trend, adding an excessive number of keywords pushes your website lower down the rankings. Keeping the word count between 700 and 1000 is enough.
As more and more users continue to migrate to mobile browsing as opposed to the desktop, the need to create a mobile-friendly website for SEO becomes ever so important. You should begin your efforts by first analyzing how mobile-friendly your website currently is by taking Google’s mobile test. The second step you need to take is to increase the effectiveness of your mobile website in turning traffic into conversions.
EX2 Outcoding is a nearshore software development firm based in Costa Rica. It provides quality nearshore web development services that ensure your website is optimized for mobile SEO and incorporates every positive indicator listed on popular search engine websites. Contact us today for more information.