Having a beautifully designed website with well-written content is brilliant.
But how well does it work on a mobile device?
Use our guide to optimising websites as a mobile SEO checklist and you’ll soon improve your mobile SEO.
What is mobile SEO?
Mobile SEO is the process of optimising websites for mobile devices.
These days, more than 45% of the world’s population owns a smartphone, increasing by almost 10% year on year.
To attract this large audience, your website needs to function well on mobile devices.
This means accounting for everything, from screen sizes to load times.
Your website must be accessible from a mobile device, or your business will appear outdated.
Why is mobile SEO important?
Google has been experimenting with mobile-first indexing since 2016. Its updated algorithm prioritises mobile optimised versions of websites.
Over 52% of online searches come from mobile devices. This will only continue to grow. 40% of people prefer to complete purchases on their mobile phone.
Google continues to stress the importance of mobile-friendly SEO and design to make sure that mobile users aren’t turned away from your website.
The more people use mobile devices to access websites, the more important it is to optimise the experience for them.
If you don’t, you’ll start to see your bounce rate go up and conversions go down.
You may want to invest in an SEO audit before you start work on improving your mobile SEO.
Understanding mobile SEO best practices
Mobile-first responsive design
Responsive web design uses the same HTML and URL for all devices. It just renders the display at different sizes.
The layout and content adapts to each individual device.
Whether you use a smartphone or a tablet, the website will adjust to the orientation, width, and resolution of the screen.
Even Google recommends this user-friendly design.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Google launched AMP back in 2015.
It complements the mobile-first index by ranking fast mobile-friendly websites higher.
AMP is an open source framework, speeding up load times for people using the internet on mobile devices.
It also improves server performance, and can even assist with GDPR compliance.
The coding strips down the elements of a webpage that aren’t necessary for mobile use. This allows pages to load pretty much instantly on phones or tablets.
Older mobile devices can’t support all of these things.
This meant blocking some or even all of them. This no longer applies. New smartphones support these page critical elements.
You need to allow search engines to access all the content on a webpage if you want them to index it.
Otherwise, crawlers won’t recognise that your website is mobile-friendly, and people won’t be able to find it.
Don’t use Flash plugin
Adobe Flash seemed to power everything on webpages once upon a time. Web design has long since moved on. It no longer favours clunky code.
You can now use sleeker HTML5 for videos and animations instead. Flash is still used for games, but it’s not mobile-friendly at all.
Most mobile devices don’t have the Flash plugin installed.
People won’t bother downloading it just to access your website – they’ll just leave and go to another one.
Pop-ups are incredibly disruptive. Especially on a mobile device with a smaller screen.
A pop-up can block the whole screen and be difficult to get rid of.
The only thing this will achieve is getting the visitor to leave the page.
There are ways to optimise pop-ups for mobiles, but it’s best to just avoid them altogether.
Google penalises pages with pop-ups for making the content less accessible.
On a mobile device, people scroll and click with their thumb or fingers.
If buttons are too small, too big, or in the wrong place, they might click on things they don’t mean to.
Interactive elements of touchscreen navigation need to accommodate finger size and clumsiness.
Fingers just aren’t as precise as the click of a mouse on a desktop.
Consider incorporating mobile-friendly elements such as a “hamburger menu” for secondary options and a scroll-to-top button.
Improve page speed
If a page takes longer than three seconds to load, 40% of people might choose to abandon it completely.
A delay of even one second could lose you a sale.
To stop this from happening, Google offers a mobile speed test to check how quickly a website loads on a mobile device.
If you need to improve your page speed, PageSpeed Insights can tell you how.
This includes tweaks like minifying code, reducing redirects, compressing files, and leveraging browser caching.
Compress image file sizes if you don’t want them to slow your pages down.
You can easily do this in Photoshop, or find a free photo editor online.
Pay attention to the type of image file too.
JPEGs are the most common, but PNGs can retain higher quality in a smaller file size.
Use keywords in image file names and alt tags so that crawlers can pick up on them and improve your rankings.
Heat maps visually represent complex data, helping you understand how people are using your mobile site.
They use a colour scale from red to blue to indicate the most popular and least popular aspects of a page.
A heat map can quickly show you what people respond to on any given page.
They’ll reveal the scrolling and clicking habits of anyone who visits that page.
Knowing what works and what doesn’t means you can identify problems to fix to increase engagement.
Technical mobile SEO:
People will quickly scan titles and meta descriptions in search results to see which listing has the information they’re looking for.
Your titles will be the first thing people see in the search results. They must be informative to get people to click on them.
Smaller screens mean less space to work with. Titles need to be descriptive but concise to work best in mobile view.
Optimise title tags with relevant keywords to make sure that your audience can find the page.
The meta description works as a kind of blurb for the page.
It gives the person searching a bit more context about the information they’ll find if they click through.
You’ll have more characters to work with than a title tag, but meta descriptions still need to be brief and descriptive.
Utilise keywords and make sure that your meta descriptions provide accurate previews of page content.
Structured data pairs names and values to help search engines index your content and categorise it accurately.
It is most often used to provide more detailed information to enhance the rich snippets in search listings.
For example, you can add customer star ratings, dates and times, prices, even images.
This additional data makes listings stand out more, especially on smaller screens, and attracts those clicks.
Schema markup is one of the most popular types of structured data. WordPress even has a Schema structured data plugin.
Optimising your content for local searches is a key part of mobile SEO.
Did you know that 46% of all Google searches are local?
Or that mobile searches with phrases such as “near me” have been increasing rapidly in recent years?
A lot of local searches on mobile devices involve people looking for a store that sells a particular type of product in their area.
To adapt to these types of searches, standardise your business name and include key information in your content and metadata.
This includes city names, addresses, phone numbers, and opening times.
Content for mobile SEO:
If readers have to zoom in or out or scroll too much to read your content, it can frustrate them enough that they leave the page.
People don’t want to be squinting and pinching, or scrolling around walls of text on their smaller mobile screens.
Keep your layout simple and use:
- Short paragraphs (2-3 lines)
- Larger font size (14px – 16px)
- Line lengths around 60-80 characters
- High contrast between background and text
- White space or images to break up copy
When you use images, make sure that they are optimised as above. It also helps if product images are expandable.
As with web searches, the number of people relying on mobiles to watch videos online is skyrocketing.
Mobile devices are responsible for 75% of video plays. Videos generate billions of views and shares, attracting more leads and increasing engagement.
If you include videos, you must optimise them. This includes using:
- Responsive design (mobile-friendly video player)
- Shorter videos for faster loading times
- Attractive and informative thumbnails
- Readable subtitles (captions)
Video captions are more important than you might think. Not only do they make your video content accessible for people with hearing loss, but 69% of viewers watch videos with the sound off anyway.
Make sure you add them to every video.
Want to improve your mobile SEO so you can start to win more customers?
Want an expert to figure out how your website could perform better?
Get in touch with us today for a free Technical SEO audit and we’ll tell you exactly how you can improve your website and optimise it for mobile.