7 Mobile SEO Best Practices (+ Checklist)
This short guide will show you what you need to know about doing SEO for mobile visitors.
You’ll find out what mobile SEO is, why mobile optimization is important as well as some simple best practices you can follow to improve the mobile-friendliness of your web pages.
Ready to get your website ready for Google’s mobile-first index?
What is Mobile SEO?
Optimizing your site for mobile SEO requires different methods than desktop users.
You have to set your website up to display your content correctly in a mobile version if you want high SERP rankings. Without a mobile-friendly version, Google won’t find you as a reliable source. Let’s look at how to optimize your website using seven mobile SEO best practices.
Whenever a person uses a search engine to look up information, an algorithm runs to display the results that best relate to the query.
To get a website to pop up in these search results, companies tweak their websites using SEO — search engine optimization. Multiple techniques help your site rank better.
Using relevant keywords, making sure your content is on-topic, and the appropriate length, and adding links are just a few ways to optimize your site.
Why is Mobile SEO Important?
The short answer: because the number of mobile searchers is increasing:
58% of all Google searches are done from a mobile device. (source)
And this trend is growing, with 27.8 billion more search queries done on mobile vs desktop.
Many users overlook one of the most essential types of optimization: mobile SEO. There are many benefits of mobile SEO strategy with your website.
In 2019, 80% of all internet searches happened on a mobile device. And 40% of all sales transactions happened on a cell phone or tablet. Over half of all internet traffic globally was done through a mobile device instead of a computer.
If you have not incorporated mobile SEO into your website design, you could be losing profits and customers. Without mobile optimization, your site will not display correctly on a mobile device.
Almost half of all customers will move onto another site if they cannot view your site on their cell phone or tablet. The speed of your website can also cause you to lose business.
To keep up with the demand for mobile searches, Google ranks websites using a “Mobile First” algorithm (mobile-first indexing).
This index orders search results based on the mobile version of the site.
Even if a customer uses a desktop to Google a search query, the results will show up in the order of which site has the best mobile optimization.
Google’s old way of displaying results consisted of both mobile and desktop results. This process means your site could still appear high in the rankings, even if you don’t have a strong mobile version.
However, Google has updated this policy and now only uses mobile results. If you aren’t using mobile SEO or you don’t have a mobile version of your site, you may find yourself falling lower in the results or not ranking at all.
7 Mobile SEO Best Practices You NEED To Know
We’ve found seven mobile SEO best practices to help you improve your mobile rankings.
1. Website Configuration
A mobile version of your site should load fast, show smaller images proportional to the mobile device, and display your contents properly.
Many people make the mobile version identical to the desktop version. To create the mobile portion of your site, you have a few different methods to try.
In the early days of mobile browsing, you would need two separate versions of your site: the desktop (main version) and the mobile (M version).
When a user visits your site, they are directed to one of two URL types, depending on their browsing — desktop or mobile.
This technique means more work for you, as you’ll have to create two versions of each page. And it can be challenging to incorporate flawless SEO into the M sites.
You’ll also have to spend some time placing in many difficult tags to get a proper mobile display. Many people have steered from using separate URLs. If this is your current method, keep reading to learn about some easier SEO-friendly techniques.
Dynamic serving means that you only have one URL for all of your content. You don’t have to worry about having two different URL formats.
Instead of directing the user to the appropriate URL version, your site will display a version of HTML/CSS that is compatible with the device.
But there’s no guarantee that the server will display the correct version. It’s common for dynamic serving sites to show the desktop version to mobile users.
And you will need different content versions for the various devices, including any new ones that may develop. While dynamic serving works better than separate URLs, there are still plenty of complications that make it less desirable than other methods.
Responsive web design
Responsive design customizes the content and layout by converting it to the user’s device without requiring multiple versions or separate URLs.
This method is most preferred by Google and will automatically rank higher than in other ways.
This technique also works seamlessly with SEO, another pro for Google’s ranking standards. Search engine spiders can crawl your site faster, improving your SERP score. And responsive design pages also load more quickly, making it more user friendly.
But, it can be time-consuming trying to switch from a different method to this technique, so many businesses stay with one of the other techniques they’ve already used.
Depending on the amount of content on your site, it may not resize appropriately for all devices. Often, the navigation bar doesn’t adjust to size correctly, resulting in failed hover-over links for touchscreens.
2. Mobile Friendly
Once you’ve figured out which way you want to have the separate versions of your website, you’ll move on to making sure your content will be mobile-friendly.
Google makes it easy to check your site’s performance, but you will need to conduct the test on every page to get an accurate report.
To analyze your site’s mobile usability, you can use the Google Search Console. Locate the “Mobile Usability” button in the menu to view visitors’ results to your site. If there are problems, you’ll receive alerts with steps on how to fix the errors.
Or you could add your website’s URL directly into the Google Mobile-Friendly test tool. The results will tell you if you passed, with a green “Page is mobile-friendly” tag. If you didn’t, it would explain the issues so you can correct them.
3. Crawling and Indexing
When Google ranks your page, they use search spiders that crawl your site to index your content. Sites that implement SEO properly will display higher in the search results for relevant search questions.
It may also rank poorly if the bots can’t determine between the mobile and desktop versions. You can use HTTP Header tags to help Google decide which version to show.
Search spiders like Googlebot need to access all areas and pages of your site to rank it appropriately. View the robots.txt file (site.com/robots.txt).
Or look at the robots tab through Google Search Console. Click Google Index—>Blocked Resources and make sure you aren’t blocking any areas. You can also use the Fetch and Render tool to make sure everything can be crawled.
An easy way to index your site is to create a mobile XML sitemap for each URL. Then submit each of these XML maps to Google Search Console, along with your mobile site.
4. Site Speed
How fast your site loads can play a significant factor in whether customers stay on your site long enough to buy something.
Or even leave you with a high bounce rate — when a customer visits your site, then immediately leaves.
Many customers will give up on a site if it takes longer than one to three seconds to load. Cell phones may load slower than desktops, so you want to do your best to make your content load as quickly as possible.
You can quickly check how fast your mobile version loads by entering your website URL into the Google mobile speed test.
This tool will provide you with how fast your page loads and with what connection. It will also give you a rating plus recommendations for how to fix your issues.
You should also make sure you use image optimization for quicker uploads. A useful resource to speed up your site is the Google Developers PageSpeed Insights Mobile Analysis. It will help if you run regular checks using the PageSpeed Insights analyzer tool.
5. Mobile UX
UX means user experience, and it’s the most crucial part of your SEO strategy. You want to be sure your site provides fast speeds, easy functionality, and a solid mobile design.
Your site’s appearance can have as much of an effect on your users’ experiences as a slow loading site. In one study, Google found that 61% of users will not revisit a site that does not display correctly on their mobile device.
Using hard to read fonts, requiring frequent panning or zooming, and having navigation bars that don’t perform properly are all factors that can cause customers to avoid a website.
Google offers this useful resource that includes 25 tips on the ideal mobile design. Incorporating these recommendations into your mobile site design improves the chances of getting a higher ranking in Google search results.
Among the tips to make the best mobile SEO site are:
- Make your menus simple to use as a toggle or pull-down menu to reduce clutter.
- Forms or other links should not open in popup windows or lightboxes. Google does not consider this UX preferred.
- Users should not have to move the screen to get the page lined up correctly. Your design should fit into a smaller screen without losing its usability and attractiveness.
- Can users quickly access the search bar? Do you have filters that keep from having zero results?
- Did you include Click-to-Call buttons and an easy to find the home button to return to the main page?
6. UX Design
If users have to pinch in on the screen to make the words big enough to read or focus on one piece of the page surrounded by other stuff, they usually leave the site for your competitor.
With mobile pages, you want your content to be easy to read, without a lot of clutter or need for blowing it up larger. Some suggestions for how to format your mobile content include:
- Writing short paragraphs
- Strong color contrast between background and text
- Font size between 14 to 16 px without being in a fancy font
- Include bullet points for lists
Visitors who browse a site using a mobile device have less inclination to scroll too far down the page to get the answers they’re needing. You want to have your message in the center of the page, visible within the first 14 seconds of scrolling on your page.
Keep your header images small. Large images are one of the leading causes of a slow mobile website upload. Resize or compress our images, so they’re smaller or use HTML5 image tags to set the size dimensions.
7. Monitor Your Performance
You should never design your site and then leave it be to hit or miss with customers. The best way to be successful is to do frequent checks of your data and analytics.
See what areas have the best success and then compare that to the ones you see no positive feedback.
Check if you’re doing anything different between the pages and figure out how to fix your mobile SEO to make your pages stronger.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are two great tools to use to keep up with your rankings and site performance.
If you want to get the best search rankings, you must optimize your website for mobile searchers.
We’ve given you seven mobile SEO best practices to help you improve your mobile version.
We’ve also provided a handy checklist. Using these techniques will help you rank higher in Google and see better visitor analytics.