When optimising websites for the search engines, you have to assume that your visitors will be using a variety of devices. As mobile devices continue to get more popular, however, ranking for mobile is now a priority for most webmasters. As of this year, Google now considers mobile-friendliness an essential factor for ranking in mobile browsers. And more often than not, you probably want to rank well for both mobile and desktop. And as of today, RankScanner automatically tracks your entire library of keywords for mobile, all handled simultaneously with your desktop rankings and without any extra costs. Enjoy!
So what are the factors that you have to consider when ranking for mobile and how do these differ from traditional SEO strategies? Let’s take a look at them below.
The Rapid Rise of Mobile
In April, 2015, Google announced the update that was informally called Mobilegeddon, the algorithm that favors websites that are mobile-friendly. Google even created its own mobile-friendly test page where you can test your site for this. This announcement was not a surprise, given the rapid growth of mobile phone usage. However, it officially put into motion a new era of SEO, one in which website owners must consider mobile ranking factors a priority. As more and more people use mobile devices for socializing as well as shopping, this trend will only become more pronounced.
It’s useful to note the number of people using mobile as opposed to laptops and desktops. At the same time, you have to keep in mind that many people use both. If the purpose of your website is to sell products, you should realise that many of your customers will, at different times, be accessing your site from computers, phones and possibly tablets. In other words, you shouldn’t think of these as completely separate markets. While some people only have a mobile phone or only a computer, it’s most common nowadays for people to have multiple devices.
It’s well known that mobile commerce is growing quickly. By some estimates, it’s grown three times faster than desktop. What is not as well known, however, is that typical conversion rates for mobile are still lower than for desktop. In fact, according to a study by Montage, conversion rates for mobile were less than 1 percent, as compared to over 3 percent for desktops in the United States.
This does not mean that optimizing and ranking for mobile is a waste of time. It suggests, rather, that there’s a great deal of room for improvements in the way mobile commerce sites are set up. Consumers are also still adjusting to the idea of making purchases from their mobile phones. As people get more accustomed to shopping on mobile devices and more retailers release apps for this purpose, mobile conversions are likely to increase.
Responsive Design vs. Separate Mobile Website
In order to rank for mobile, you have two main choices. You can either build a separate mobile website or have a single website that serves all of your visitors. A mobile site will have its own URL to which mobile users will automatically be redirected. This is a good choice if you’ve already built a website that’s non-responsive and it would be very complicated or costly to redesign it. On the other hand, having a separate mobile site can make your overall SEO efforts more challenging. In this case, you will have to maintain and optimize two websites, each with its own URL.
If, on the other hand, your website is responsive, it will be equally easy to access to all users. This type of design, the user’s screen is automatically adjusted to the proper size. This is the simpler solution and makes it easier to optimize your site for both mobile devices and computers. If your website was built in the last couple of years, there’s a good chance it’s responsive. Responsive templates for WordPress and other platforms are easy to find. Responsive design appears to be the wave of the future. It’s also the solution that Google recommends.
The Importance of Local Rankings for Mobile
Any store or business with a physical location has to be very concerned about local rankings. This is one of the best ways for you to get noticed by search engine users. This is also an area where mobile rankings are of paramount importance. People often use their phones to find information about local businesses.
Currently, about 60 percent of all searches are done using mobile phones. Many of these are local searches. People frequently use their phones while driving around searching for a restaurant, hotel, auto service center or other type of business. Many local searches are done from home on mobile devices as well. Here are some tips to keep in mind when optimizing your site for mobile in local rankings.
- Emphasize basic business information: For local businesses, information such as address, phone number, hours and the most important services provided must be easy to find.
- Google Places: You want to make it easy to find your business. Verify your business on Google Places and make sure it’s in the proper category. You should also embed Google Maps on your website.
- Optimize for voice: More and more devices, especially smartphones, are utilising voice search. This means you have to consider that people will be hearing the words on your website rather than reading them. You should consider this when creating content. For one thing, it’s best to use complete sentences that sound natural rather than old-fashioned SEO phrases such as “car rental Houston.”
- Encourage people to leave reviews: People now rely a great deal on reviews when making choices about which local business to patronize. When you’re set up for Google Places, you’ll be able to get Google reviews. You should encourage your customers to leave reviews on sites such as Yelp as well. Google reviews, however, are more likely to be seen right away by people searching. There’s a direct relationship between reviews and ranking. Having more positive reviews helps you rank better, especially if it attracts natural quality links. Of course, it also works the other way. High-ranking websites attract more attention, which makes it easier for them to get still more reviews. The challenging aspect of getting Google Reviews is that customers must have a Google account in order to post reviews. You should therefore provide instructions for how to register for an account and find your page.
Making Your Site User-Friendly for Mobile
When it comes to mobile ranking, one of the most important considerations is providing a user-friendly experience. This is true regardless of the kind of device you’re targeting. It’s particularly important to keep in mind for mobile, though. This is because many websites are still not optimised for smaller devices. Here are some factors that contribute to a good experience for mobile visitors.
- Page loading time: For a variety of reasons, people tend to be extra impatient on phones. They may be doing other things, such as texting or taking incoming calls. That’s why it’s crucial that your site loads quickly on mobile devices. Google also considers page-loading speed as a ranking factor. Research shows that after a mere three seconds, you start to lose visitors. You should regularly test your site’s loading speed. This can be done using tools such as Pingdom.
- Ease of use: To be properly optimized, a mobile site must be easy for visitors to use and navigate. You must determine what type of information people are seeking and make this prominent. For a physical store, this includes the address, hours and phone number. If it’s an e-commerce site, product descriptions and buy buttons must stand out. If the main goal of the site is to build an email list, then the opt-in form should be prominent. On mobile sites, people won’t spend much time searching for information that’s difficult to find.
- Social sharing: Mobile users are more likely to share content from social media sites than desktop users. For this reason, you should always check to make sure your social sharing buttons are working on all types of devices and operating systems. If you’re using responsive design, this should not be a problem. However, this is such an important factor for mobile SEO that you should recheck it regularly.
Researching Mobile Keywords
In many cases, your mobile, desktop, laptop and tablet users will search for a business using the same keywords. This is not, however, always the case. While we can speculate about why keyword searches sometimes differ depending on the device, it’s more important to know that this is the case and to act accordingly. This means doing separate keyword research for mobile users.
There are various tools that help you do this. One of them is Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner. This tool has a separate mobile trends section that shows you the trending keywords for mobile users. Google Webmaster Tools can also give you insights about mobile search queries. For this, you will look under Search Analytics. Under Devices, you’ll be able to choose Mobile.
Top Listing are Crucial for Mobile
One point that cannot be overlooked is that, when ranking for mobile keywords, it’s extremely important to be among the top few listings. SEO has always been extremely competitive. This is especially the case with mobile SEO. Due to the small screen size of mobile phones, fewer listings are visible without scrolling. A high percentage of people searching don’t bother to scroll, only focusing on the results that are immediately visible. This makes it less likely that people will see anything but the first few listings.
According to Moz, only 4.4 percent of clicks on mobile devices are below the fourth listing, compared to 16 percent on desktops. Some of the ways to ensure that you dominate for keywords include focusing on local listings and finding less competitive keywords that your customers are using in searches.
Other SEO Factors Specific to Mobile
Most SEO factors apply to all devices, with minor differences. As mentioned, keyword searches sometimes vary. Local is especially important for mobile, though people also do local searches on desktops. There are, however, certain points that are especially pertinent for mobile SEO.
- Uncluttered pages: Because of the small screen size, you want to avoid clutter on mobile pages. This means you should not have too many images or ads. These can also slow down your site.
- Avoid Flash: Flash can be problematic in general, but you should definitely avoid it when targeting mobile users. It’s not supported by many mobile operating systems. If you already have Flash on your website, you should replace it with something that’s more mobile-friendly, such as HTML5.
- Shorter, simpler content: Because mobile users are impatient, it’s best to keep content short and concise. It should also be more readable on scales such as Flesch. People are less likely to read long articles on mobile devices.
- App Store Optimization: One of the unique aspects of mobile SEO is the importance of apps. Apps give you a way to stay in touch with customers and to remind them of your existence. They also provide a way to rank. App store optimization or ASO is an increasingly important specialty within SEO. Just as you need to rank for keywords for your website, you should optimise your apps to make them easy to find. This includes the name of your app and a keyword-rich description. Businesses often think in terms of introducing apps to existing customers. However, apps can also be a way to acquire new customers.
Why You Should Design Your Site With Mobile Users in Mind
A good case can be made for designing your website primarily for mobile devices. Once again, this is assuming you only have a single, responsive site. In the past, people spoke of making their sites mobile-friendly. As mobile gains preeminence, however, it’s gotten to the point where mobile deserves your primary consideration.
Fortunately, the rules that apply to mobile SEO are not going to harm your SEO for desktop. On the contrary, the two are quite complementary. Flash, for example, is best avoided no matter what kind of device your visitors are using. Local SEO tips apply to people searching on computers as well as phones. The only exceptions are websites that specialize in longer types of content. A site, for example, that specializes in short stories or academic style papers is always going to be more appealing to desktop users. These types of sites, however, are usually non-commercial and generally less concerned with SEO. Commercial websites will do better by thinking mostly of their mobile visitors.
As mobile devices continue to dominate the internet, it makes sense to design websites with these users in mind. At the same time, you should keep in mind that there will always be desktop users as well. Additionally, many people use multiple devices. However, mobile is quickly becoming the most prevalent way that people research, shop and socialize online.