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Everything You Need to Know About Mobile SEO

Smartphones are not just for younger generations anymore. In fact, one of the fastest growing demographics for smartphone and general smart device usage is the 55 – 64 age bracket. In other words, smartphones have taken a serious grip on our society and, for many of us, they are the first things we check when we wake up in the morning, we carry them around with us always, and we use them more and more for day-to-day tasks.

Consequently, smartphones have changed the way we engage with not just each other, but the internet itself. One area where smartphones have had the largest impact is SEO as mobile SEO helps businesses and brands reach potential customers. Therefore, it is not something which can be ignored.

Why is Mobile SEO Important?

Mobile traffic towers over desktop-based traffic. Each day, more people become reliant on smartphones to perform even the most basic of tasks. They are all-encompassing pieces of technology which house our lives. To take advantage of this and reach the people using them, you need to have a mobile SEO strategy.

Google studies have shown that smartphone users have more buying intent than their desktop counterparts – these people are there and waiting, ready to buy, and it is your job to ensure your website is one of the first results they see when performing a Google search.

Many webmasters assume there is no difference between desktop and mobile SEO, however. This is wrong. Yes, desktop SEO tactics do work for mobile SEO in some ways. However, desktop SEO and mobile SEO are not wholly interchangeable, so it is best practice to have two separate SEO strategies.

Google is Beginning to Prioritise Mobile

This year, Google will switch to a mobile-first index, making the importance of mobile SEO clear beyond doubt.

What does this mean? Previously, Google stored the desktop version of your website in its index. Now, however, it will use the mobile version instead. This doesn’t mean it will ignore the desktop version of your site. Instead, it now gives greater priority to the mobile version.

Even if your website is not geared towards a smartphone audience you still need to optimise it for mobile. The most efficient approach is to make your website responsive. If you don’t have a responsive website yet, you should make this your number one digital marketing priority. As a website development and SEO company in Auckland, we can help you do this.

What Does Google See As “Mobile”?

Many people consider smartphones and tablets as mobile devices. However, Google categorises tablets as devices in their own right and does not include them under the “mobile” umbrella.

This means Google only considers smartphones to be mobile devices. This isn’t a hugely important point though, because the idea with SEO is to optimise your website for all devices, not just smartphones – i.e. by making your website responsive.

Mobile SEO – Five Essential Tips

Your website needs to be optimised for mobile so that, regardless of the user’s device, everyone has a positive experience. Mobile SEO mostly relates to your website’s design, structure, and other technical aspects. Here are our five essential mobile SEO tips:

1. Focus on Speed

Google expects websites to load in half a second or less. In addition, research shows that a loading time which exceeds more than two seconds is enough to put off most consumers. Ensuring that your site loads quickly is crucial to ranking highly on both desktop and mobile search results pages. Simple speed optimisations include:

  • Correctly sizing your images
  • Removing unnecessary code
  • Utilising browser caching to store site resource files
  • Reducing the number of redirects on your site

2. Have a Responsive Design

Responsive designs are the way forward for mobile SEO and SEO in general. If you use WordPress or other content management systems, most modern themes come responsive as standard. Also, it is possible optimise existing website designs and themes by adding a few lines of code.

To get the most stable, functional, and visually attractive website, however, you should get a bespoke responsive theme.

The best responsive designs eliminate all flash elements and pop-ups plus they have a design that makes it easy to browse using a finger, reducing the possibility of accidental tapping of elements.

3. Optimise for the Local Area

This applies mostly to businesses that have a localised presence such as a physical premises or offices. If you do operate a physical location, it is important you optimise your website for local searches.

There are two ways to do this: a) include your city/town/region in your site’s content, in page titles, and in page meta descriptions, particularly the homepage; and, b) sign up for Google My Business, a free tool that lets you add important details about your business to Google such as opening hours and contact information.

4. Check for Blocked CSS, JavaScript, and Images

CSS, JavaScript, and images can enhance your website but there used to be a time when mobile devices could not properly support them. As a result, many web developers blocked them for mobile devices. Developers may also have blocked these elements because of mobile data concerns.

Today, however, these elements are crucial for helping Google determine whether you have a responsive site. Therefore, it is worth checking that your website isn’t blocking them, especially if your website has been around for some time.

5. Optimise Page Content

Remember, with mobile devices, you have much less screen space to work with. Also, the layout is different than a desktop as most people browse websites on mobile devices while holding them in a portrait position. In other words, they look at your website vertically rather than horizontally.

This means you should think about the layout of the content on your pages. Long paragraphs of text are a simple example as they could fill up all or most of a mobile screen. This is off-putting for visitors.

So, when writing content and structuring the layout of your website, always think mobile.

Mobile SEO Shouldn’t Be Scary

Many webmasters have been up in arms about Google’s mobile first index. However, mobile devices are the future and it makes sense that you optimise your website for them. Doing so will only deliver benefits, particularly over the long-term.

So, how do you know if you have a mobile optimised website? Here are some questions to ask:

  • Does your website load quickly on mobile when on a mobile network, i.e. not on a Wi-Fi connection?
  • Does your website look good on your phone and on any other phone or tablet you can check it on?
  • Does all the content on your website display on mobile?
  • Do all the features and functions of your website work on mobile?

If you are unsure about any of the above, you should get the help of an SEO agency in Auckland.