SEO for Mobile

Mobile SEO is optimizing your website’s content to attain enhanced user experience. Smartphone use for Internet searches has become a norm and this handy device lets everyone make online searching possible whenever a query pops up in mind.

Just imagine, you are standing in a store looking at the wide variety of products you need, confused in making a buying decision. What will be your first act, you will pull out your smartphone and start browsing for reviews or detailed product information. Here you go, your confusion is resolved and your decision is made.

What is Mobile SEO?  

Mobile phone usage has impacted everyone, especially in ways to use the Internet and make everyday decisions. Mobile SEO focuses on making your websites mobile-friendly and enhancing customer reach and satisfaction. It ensures your mobile website loads quickly without any technical glitches and provides amazing content that satisfies the customers’ needs.

Importance of Mobile SEO

The role of Mobile SEO is increasing as mobile traffic is now overpowering desktop traffic. People are addicted to their smartphones; it is always in their hands and they are checking for updates after every couple of minutes. Smartphones have become part of everyone’s life, thus it is an imperative for businesses to have a mobile SEO strategy to reach their customers. According to Google research, mobile device users are more likely to buy products after a search than desktop users. So it’s beneficial for businesses to optimize their website for mobile users.

Enhanced Mobile SEO also plays a crucial role in the branding of a business. Poor customer experience can do more damage to a business and can prevent them from visiting the mobile site in the future. A Google Insights report reveals that consumers who get a negative mobile experience are 62% less likely to purchase from that brand in the future, than if they had a positive experience. Mobile SEO involves a technically sound website, stellar content, and amazing customer experience.

Google’s mobile-first index

Mobile SEO’s importance is evident from the announcement made by Google in 2016 related to the mobile-first index. Google switched to the mobile-first index in July 2019 and it plans to index all websites mobile-first by 2021. This means that Google will rank web pages based on their quality on mobile phones rather than desktops. 

Let’s see how this mobile-first index works. Googlebot’s smartphone version will crawl the mobile version of your website and rank it based on its content, performance, and user experience. If your mobile version’s performance is lacking on any parameters set by Google, your website will see a downfall in the ranking.

So, when your site is evaluated by Google using mobile-first indexing, you must ensure that the mobile site is crawlable by removing all the barriers like poor loading scripts and not blocking content in your robot.txt. Your website should load extremely fast if you want it to be indexed properly.

Following are the basic factors you need to take care of your website’s mobile-first index:

  • Your website should load resources across all devices
  • Your website does not hide content on the mobile version 
  • It loads lightning fast
  • Your website has all the internal links and redirects working
  • Your website boasts a user experience that is optimized for your visitors

Your website should have amazing content on both the desktop and mobile versions, providing the correct metadata,  investing in structured data offerings, and making sure that your servers can handle the high crawl rate.

Make sure that Google understands your website as being mobile-friendly. The speed at which your mobile site loads is also incredibly important, and it’s a weighted factor in the mobile-first index. It’s essential to follow best practices and do everything you can to speed up your mobile site—your customers will love you and you’ll show up higher in searches.

User Page Experience: A new Google ranking factor  

In May 2020, Google announced a new factor to rank web pages called Page Experience. Google is stressing more and more on the user page experience, in addition to site speed that has been advocated by Google for several years. User experience design of the site includes images on the website, loading speed, or any slow-loading ads harming page experience.

How to improve Mobile SEO?

Mobile SEO is all about making your website findable and crawlable by search engines. In addition, the site should exhibit a brilliant performance on mobile devices, great content, and a seamless user experience (UX). You must understand how your site is performing and what keywords your target users are typing while using their mobile devices. It has been observed that people have a different way of searching while using a smartphone. For example, if you are searching for the nearest retail store, it makes more sense when using a smartphone rather than a desktop.  

What are Mobile SEO Tools?

You have to be closely acquainted with Google Search Console as its search tools help you see how your site is performing in search results. The Search Analytics feature helps you in analyzing how desktop and mobile users use words while searching the Internet. It will help you in gaining the right words to target and keywords to focus on.

Your website should be responsive enough for the Googlebot to crawl your image files, JavaScript, and CSS to index it. The URL Inspection tool in the Search Console lets you see how your content is perceived by Googlebot. If you see an error while inspecting your site, you have to align it to be consistent with the indexer.

Mobile Usability Tool

Mobile Usability is another feature of Google Search Console that helps in checking your website and offers an overview of pages and posts that do not follow the mobile-friendly rules of Google. This is an effective tool to improve your mobile SEO.

There are several other tools for analyzing and updating your mobile SEO performance including SEMrush, Analytics, Ahrefs, ScreamingFrog, Rich Results Test, and Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

How is Mobile SEO linked to website performance?

Performance is the first thing to focus on while enhancing mobile SEO. Performance is entirely linked to site speed: the faster your site loads, the better the user experience. If a website does not load in a couple of seconds, visitors are bound to press the back button and look for other resources. 

Optimizing your website’s performance is an evergoing process. You have to keep a close look at how your mobile website is performing, as it helps in identifying any problem in the performance. Your customers and Google, both love sites that load quickly.

Let’s discuss different kinds of mobile website designs and the type that is preferred by search engines to give your mobile web pages a higher rank.

What are the kinds of Mobile website designs?

  • Responsive
  • Dynamic
  • Separate domain

Google prefers a responsive website design that adapts to the device it is used on. It is easy to maintain and has only one codebase. According to Google, a responsive design is more likely in addition to the new mobile-first indexing. You should always add the meta name=”viewport” declaration in the head of your documents to let Google know that your site is mobile-friendly.

In the dynamic serving website design, server detects the users’ device type and serves the appropriate version of your site. While they use the same URL, the files that are displayed are completely different between the mobile version and the desktop version. You should add the Vary header to let Google crawl your website as this will let Google identify that it has received mobile-optimized files.

dynamic serving mobile website designWhen you use a separate domain, you typically design your site on an m.subdomain. It is a completely separate version of your site. Similar to dynamic, all the files are different between the mobile version and desktop version. Google supports this version only if you make the connections between your mobile domain and the regular desktop domain. Use rel=”alternate” and rel=”canonical” to show Google how these pages are connected.

The dynamic serving and separate mobile site methods make the optimization process hard. There are so many different files involved and you need to do every task multiple times. Maintenance is also hard with so many files. 

When you use responsive design, you design a single site with a single version of each page. Responsive CSS coding makes your content “fluid”, it changes according to the device that views the site. When you are writing content and optimizing a page with responsive design, you need to do it once and thus it makes SEO much easier. 

To design mobile sites, Google prefers and recommends responsive design. With the help of this design, you get a single version for each file. It provides the best user experience regardless of the device being used for searches.

How to Improve Mobile Site Speed?

 After designing a mobile-friendly site, the most important factor of mobile SEO is page speed. Page Speed Insights is extremely helpful in showing how fast the mobile and desktop versions of your website load. It also recommends ways to improve site performance. Using additional tools like Google Search Console’s Core Web Vitals to analyze how your site is performing.

Three Core Web Vitals metrics analyzed by PageSpeed Insights include:

  • CLP (largest contentful paint): This occurs when the largest part of a website’s requested page is shown on the screen. If your website has a high CLP grade, that means your site loads quickly. Slow load speed can cause dissatisfaction among users.
  • FID (first input delay): This metric focuses on the time between a user’s first interaction with a requested web page and the browser’s reaction to that input. It is essential whether a website reacts to an input in a fast and responsive way.CLS (cumulative layout shift): This metric measures the total movement time on the screen while the website is loading. This provides an idea of the things that are happening around making the site jerky.                                                                                                                   Whenever you type your URL, Insights will give you scores for the mobile and desktop versions of the website.  If the Insights report gives you a red score, you need to improve your website. An orange score depicts that your website’s performance is average and a green score indicates that the website is performing well. Insights will also offer recommendations on improving your website’s performance. 

What are the Do’s to Improve Site Speed?

  • Optimize your website’s images and use lesser images
  • Invest in a high-quality hosting platform
  • Check your redirects
  • Update to PHP7 version
  • Optimize critical rendering path
  • Minify and optimize HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • Prioritize visible content
  • Optimize browser cache
  • Transition to HTTP/2
  • Fewer ad servers
  • Upgrade to HTTPS
  • Enhance server’s response time
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