91% of smartphone users in the U.S. say they look at their phones while performing other tasks. These “mobile moments” give website owners an unprecedented opportunity to engage users when they expect to get exactly what they need, when they need it.
These needs could be virtually anything and aren’t limited to retail products online. The user could be searching for medical advice, guitar lessons, movie tickets, or anything else on their mind. Regardless of your business model, if you have an online presence, it’s important to optimize for SEO to rank on mobile devices.
What Is Mobile SEO
Mobile SEO means optimizing the customer experience of your site for mobile and making it recognizable by Google. Even if you already have a mobile site, Google won’t be able to understand it unless it’s configured properly. An unprepared site will rank poorly on mobile.
In four simple steps, we’ll help you create a mobile-friendly website and ensure Google can easily decipher it. The sooner Google recognizes your mobile site, the faster they’ll rank you.
Make Your Website Mobile Ready
Are you wondering how to make your site mobile-friendly? Here are a few questions to consider:
- Is your content readable on mobile?
- Does your website need pinching or zooming?
- Is your website easy to navigate with a single finger?
- Is your mobile content helpful for someone using a mobile?
If you answered “No” to any of these, your site could use some work to make it mobile-friendly.
There are four main strategies to make a mobile website: responsive design, AMP, dynamic serving, and creating a separate website on a mobile-specific URL.
For SEO purposes, a responsive design is a wise choice. Google supports responsive design as it’s simple and the implementation is less risky. If you find it difficult to make your website code responsive, search for responsive templates online that are easily available and suit your needs. Colorlib or Theme Forest are some sites where you can buy responsive, mobile-ready themes.
Rank Up On Mobile Friendliness Factors
There are several factors that Google takes into account before determining how mobile-friendly a site is. These include:
- The Configuration of Viewport: Fixed-size web pages may be too large to fit a mobile screen. To fix this, browsers on those devices scale down the entire web page to fit the screen. Viewport elements give the browser instructions on how to control the page’s dimensions and scaling.
- Usage Of Interstitial Ads: Interstitial ads are overlays that block a user from seeing or interacting with content. In a Google update, they mentioned that mobile web pages with interstitial ads will no longer be considered mobile-friendly.
- Font Sizes: 66 characters is the recommended line length for maximum clarity and readability for print and desktop web. For smaller viewports like smartphones, 35–40 characters per line provides the best balance for legible and readable text. Design and technical strategist, Jason Pamental, suggests implementing Typographic Style using CSS which yields more balanced results across screen sizes.
- Usage Of Plugin:Plugins shouldn’t be used in mobile web pages, as recommended by Google in its developer guidelines. Plugins are a major cause of hang-ups, crashes, and security breaches. Plus, most mobile devices don’t support plugins.
Ensure Googlebot Understands Your Page
The most important step is to make sure Google understands your website’s mobile configuration. Unless Google identifies your mobile solution, it may not credit your website or rank appropriately on Google’s mobile SERP.
For different types of mobile implementation (responsive, dynamic, AMP, and separate website on mobile-specific URL), the configuration is different.
In responsive design, include a viewport tag to configure for mobile. As mentioned earlier, a viewport tag will help the browser to render a website correctly based on the device’s screen size.
For dynamic serving, Google requires adding the Vary HTTP header. It looks like this:
With this header, Google understands that the website has a mobile alternative.
For a separate website on a mobile-specific URL, you need to add a special rel=”alternate” tag on the desktop page pointing to the corresponding mobile URL for Google to understand it has a mobile version. On the mobile page, add a rel=”canonical” tag pointing to the corresponding desktop URL, so Google doesn’t consider the content as duplicate.
Optimize User Experience On Mobile
User experience optimization is an important component of mobile SEO to improve search engine ranking and avoid penalties. Consider the following key factors:
- Mobile Page Speed: Mobile networks aren’t as fast as regular internet connections. If you have a slow website, it’ll take longer for the pages to load on mobile. Mobile page speed is a key factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. Using Google’s Page Speed Insight tool you can identify and solve page speed issues on your website.
- Blocked Page Resource:Some page elements are rendered based on other functional files like CSS. Such files should be crawlable for Googlebot to understand. It’s an important factor for usability, as mentioned in Google’s resources. Google Webmaster Tools now includes a Blocked Resources Report to help you find and resolve these kinds of issues. A website’s robots.txt file often blocks access to some or all of its page resources. This is often seen in WordPress’ default configuration.
- Faulty Redirects: If you have separate mobile and desktop URLs, it’s necessary to redirect the desktop URL to the appropriate mobile URL. Redirecting any URL to the homepage or other pages will misguide users. For example, if a user is searching for a page in Facebook on desktop, the URL will be facebook.com/xyz. While searching on mobile, he or she should be redirected to m.facebook.com/xyz. It’ll be quite disappointing if the user is redirected to m.facebook.com (homepage) instead. Such issues not only cause the user experience to suffer but can also result in search engine penalties, as clearly stated in Google’s developer resource.
LXRSEO is a great tool for evaluating how your site looks and performs on mobile. More users are opting for smartphones to search, so it’s important to create a positive user experience for your mobile site. Our SEO strategies can help you improve your website’s ranking in mobile search results and get more traffic to your website from mobile devices.