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SEO for Mobile Guide

What Is Mobile SEO?

Mobile SEO involves implementing various strategies and tactics to ensure your website is optimized for mobile web searches (searches performed on mobile devices such as smartphones). While many desktop SEO best practices apply to mobile, there are some important things to keep in mind for mobile devices - especially when it comes to user experience, design, and performance. But first, why should you care about mobile anyways?

Why Is Mobile SEO Important?

Mobile SEO is important because there are more mobile users in the world than desktop. Mobile search continues to grow at a faster pace than desktop search, so making sure you show up for mobile queries, and offer a good mobile experience on your site, is key.

Beyond the sheer number of people utilizing mobile devices, websites that are mobile-friendly receive a ranking boost in SERPs, which can lead to more traffic and conversions. The Google Algorithm update known as ‘Mobilegeddon,’ released in April of 2015, made it so mobile-friendly websites would likely see keyword ranking increases, while sites that aren’t mobile-friendly may see significant keyword drops.

Mobile Search Stats

Here are a few stats and facts about the mobile market:

  • U.S users spend 52% of their digital media time on mobile devices. 88% of that time is spent in mobile apps
  • Over 80% of Internet users own a smartphone
  • The majority of website visits is still greater on desktop than mobile
  • In general, conversion rates on mobile are lower than on desktop

Now that we know SEO for mobile is important, let’s take a look at the different options your business has to create a mobile-friendly website.

internetusersperdevice
91% of Internet users have a laptop or PC, and 80% have a smartphone.

Mobile Configurations

Google recommends 3 different types of configurations for mobile websites: responsive web design, dynamic serving, and separate URLs.

Responsive Web Design: This is Google’s top recommendation for mobile websites. A responsive website is a website that can adjust its display based on the size of the device accessing the site. Everything about the website remains the same regardless of the device accessing it, meaning the code, content, URLs, etc. are the same for mobile, tablet and desktop users.

Dynamic Serving: Dynamic serving is when a website uses the same URLs on the desktop and mobile version of the site, but the code and content displayed is based on the device used to access the site.

Separate URLs: In this configuration, the desktop and mobile version of the website are different; different code, different URLs. The website decides which URL to display by detecting the user’s device.

At Wpromote, we also recommend going towards a responsive design. There are a number of advantages, including:

  • It’s easier for Google to crawl the website
  • It’s simpler for users to find and share pages
  • It’s less technically demanding than maintaining two of each page
  • Responsive sites are generally faster because users don’t have to wait to be redirected

Once you have chosen you configuration and set it up, it’s time to test for errors.

How Do I Check If My Site Is Mobile-Friendly?

Google has a handy tool that will check if your website meets their standard for mobile-friendliness. Follow these steps to check your own website:

  1. Go to https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly
  2. Enter in your site URL
  3. Google will tell you if you passed, and any issues they are detecting
googlesearchconsol

Mobile Usability Errors

Another place to check for mobile issues is in your site’s Search Console account. To see your mobile usability errors, follow these steps.

  1. Go to Google Search Console
  2. Go to ‘Search Traffic’
  3. Go to ‘Mobile Usability’
  4. See all of the issues affecting your site, and the pages those issues are found on
mobileusability
Wpromote’s current mobile usability errors.

Mobile PageSpeed

As of this guide’s publication, the mobile PageSpeed of your website is not factored into your site’s ability to rank for keywords. Google only uses the desktop PageSpeed, meaning if your desktop site loads quickly but your mobile site does not, you can still rank well for keywords on mobile searches. However, they have said that in the future they plan on adding mobile PageSpeed as a separate ranking factor. Therefore, webmasters should be working on ways to improve mobile page load times. Beyond the ranking implications, users expect sites to load quickly, and if they don’t, they are likely to bounce immediately from your website.

100
Example.com’s mobile PageSpeed score.

Mobile Index

Google uses the same index of pages when serving results for both mobile and desktop. However, they are working on building out a separate mobile index that would be used when determining which results to show for mobile searches. Therefore, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly it’s very possible that in the future your pages will not be included in this mobile index - meaning you wouldn’t be able to rank for any mobile searches!

AMP

A new dimension of mobile search is the Accelerated Mobile Pages project, also known as AMP. AMPs are web pages created using stripped down, mobile-optimized HTML, CSS, JS, etc. The goal of this Google-sponsored, open-source project is to allow websites to deliver their content to users on mobile devices without them having to deal with long load times.

A website with AMPs is different than a mobile-friendly website. Even if you have AMPs, you should still have a mobile website (using one of the configurations discussed above). However, AMPs will be displayed above regular mobile results for some search queries. As of the writing of this guide, AMPs are primarily meant for news websites, but non-news sites have also begun creating AMPs. For example, eBay is creating millions of AMPs for their products, and other sites are creating AMP versions of their blogs. Wpromote is doing the latter; you can see this by going to any of our blog URLs and adding /amp to the end of it. To learn how to set up AMPs for your Wordpress blog, check out this guide we made.

hreflangtags
AMP version of a blog post I wrote on hreflang tags. Check it out here!

Local Search

Google has revealed some interesting statistics about user search behavior on mobile. 1/3rd of all mobile searches are local-oriented, and local searches on mobile are growing 50% faster than mobile search in general. Therefore, when devising your mobile SEO strategy, you should be taking into account local SEO as well; otherwise, you could be missing out on significant traffic opportunities.

Mobile App Indexing (Deep App Linking)

Mobile app indexing and deep app linking are advanced but important parts of a mobile search strategy if your website/business has an app. Mobile app indexing is making it so that your website’s app shows up on the SERPs, and deep app linking is when pages in your app are linked to in the SERPs, as opposed to pages from your website.

These topics are too detailed to cover in this guide, but a couple of general things to know are as follows:

  • Every app page should have a website equivalent, and these pages will need to reference each other in their source code
  • Your app will need to be added to Google Search Console to show up in Google results
  • The app must follow all mobile best practices
Check back soon for a more detailed guide!

Google Analytics Mobile Dashboard

When developing a mobile SEO strategy it’s important to understand your current site performance. You will want to see how much traffic your site is getting from mobile, your mobile bounce rate, mobile conversion rate, mobile load times, etc. To get all of this information in one location we recommend creating a mobile dashboard.

We created a basic mobile dashboard that you can add to your own GA profile for free that covers all of the high-level metrics about your mobile website. When creating a dashboard, simply go to the Dashboard Gallery and search for ‘Wpro Mobile Dashboard.’ Then just make sure you add the Mobile Traffic segment to the dashboard.

mobiledashboard
This mobile dashboard is a quick place to go to check all high-level mobile site data for your site.
written by: Justin McKinney

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