Given the fact that today, more than half of all internet search traffic arises out of mobile devices, businesses can no longer afford to ignore the concept of “mobile-first” in their search engine optimization strategies and the opportunity of converting a target audience that is young and affluent, even if somewhat impatient. According to statista, 52.6% of the global web traffic came from mobile devices. SEO practitioners now need to think actively about how to make the mobile user experience top-grade so that they can grab the largest possible share of the eyeballs and the market.
Mobile SEO is essentially a set of practices that aims to optimize the website both from the point of user experience and crawling by Google bots. The reason why it is assuming critical importance is that Google is increasingly placing more emphasis on giving better ranks to those sites that provide a superior mobile user experience. Google uses a mobile-first method of indexing where it promotes mobile sites in its rankings compared to desktop sites.
For those who are wondering about the difference between mobile SEO and desktop SEO, principally, both rely on tried and tested method involving high-quality content, link-building, and technical on-page and off-page optimization techniques. The stark difference, however, is in the quality of user experience largely due to the limitations of the screen and technology of mobile devices that present challenges to presenting the information. A smaller mobile screen means that button and text links that can be placed close together on desktop sites can be difficult to use because instead of the mouse, users will be using their fingers to tap. Poor navigation on mobile screens can lead to high bounce rates, which in turn, sends signals to Google to drive down the rank. The click-through rate can also be affected due to title tags that are poorly optimized because the tags can get truncated in mobile search listings.
Also, because of the relative difficulty in typing in search terms on the smaller mobile devices, users have rapidly adopted alternative methods like voice inputs or apps that make the search easy. It is due to these basic differences, that website managers and content developers need to focus on making usage easy and content that can engage even when displayed on the small screens.
Generally, there are three options for optimizing websites for mobiles.
An independent version of the website can be developed for use on mobiles. Typically, the URLs of such sites start with “m.” with the help of which the browser knows that it is a mobile version and can differentiate it from the desktop version. The principal advantage of having a mobile website is that it can be created natively for smartphones and other mobile devices. However, with this system, you have to administer two versions of the website and also deal with the fact that such sites take longer by Google to move to the mobile-first index.
In this method there is only one version of the URL, which, however, triggers the relevant HTML for displaying on either the mobile or desktop device, depending on the user’s choice. This method delivers a very god technique of optimizing the code for mobiles; however, you need to maintain and manage two sets of different codes.
This is an option that most experts, as well as Google, recommends for the simple reason that only one website have to be maintained regardless of the device being used to access the website. The technology ensures that instead of serving a different version of the website to mobile users, the website design changes automatically to fit the different sizes of the screens being used by different users. According to the Webfx, it improves the user experience, which enhances the time spent on the page that helps to improve the search rankings.
Even though improvements in technology and network speeds have vastly changed the search scenario on mobile devices, there are still some very important factors that can have an impact on page rankings, search visibility, and the user experience. The most critical factors are:
Readability of the content displayed on mobile screens is extremely important as visitors will tend to abandon the site if they cannot read the content easily without squinting or pinching the page. The font size should be selected so that it is large enough to be read on the go on the small screen and the content itself must be delivered in short paragraphs not exceeding three lines as they are easier to read and skim through. There should be a strong contrast between the page background and the text color so that the content can be read easily even when the mobile is being used outdoors.
Users accessing information on mobile devices typically do so when on the go or when they are multitasking, which makes it very important for the pages to load very quickly. According to Google, even a delay of just one second can reduce the potential of conversions by as much as 20%. As a ranking factor, page loading speed is considered very important.
Much of the information users of mobile devices try to access is local, which means that if local businesses are not optimizing their websites for mobiles, they are potentially losing out to opportunities of boosting their revenues. Local businesses should ensure that they include the name of the business, the address, phone number and business hours on the website. Adding the proper HTML tags will permit users to get directions to the store or to call up. A click-to-call button can be very handy for boosting conversions.
With the number of users accessing the internet with mobile devices increasing at a very fast pace, businesses need to improve their search visibility on them. More than just ensuring a mobile version of the website or having a responsive design, it is to do with adopting strategies for better search rankings.