I am addicted to smartphone browsing. It’s simple, it’s convenient and I can do it anywhere.
And apparently, I’m not alone. According to recent statistics, mobile visits represented 18.4 percent of website traffic in the final quarter of 2012. The figure went up to almost 27 percent one year later.
Are you doing enough to attract these people to your website?
Mobile SEO differs from traditional search engine optimization—so you need a different approach. But that’s okay, because you’re about to learn everything you’ll need to make the mobile crowd love your site.
Why is Mobile SEO Important?
If you’re experienced with SEO, you know it’s a volatile game with more twists than a pack of Twizzlers.
You panicked (along with the rest of us) after the Google Penguin and Panda updates. Traditional SEO techniques died, content became more crucial, and the mobile crowd multiplied.
You can’t rely on pure luck when it comes to nearly 30 percent of web traffic. If you don’t jump on the mobile browsing bandwagon now, you will find it much more difficult to adapt your SEO strategy in the future.
Not convinced yet? Here are some concrete figures (courtesy of Super Monitoring) explaining why mobile SEO is so important:
- The number of mobile devices on Earth exceeded the number of people in the end of 2013.
- The average age at which people get their first smartphone today is 13.
- 50 percent of the smartphone owners use these devices as a primary or main way of going online.
- Mobile device users spend 18 percent of their time on browsing, 18 percent on using Facebook and six percent on using other social networks.
- A total of 1.2 billion people access internet from mobile devices.
- Mobile searches contribute to one quarter of all online searches.
Improve the Mobile Browsing Experience
The list of to-dos for mobile SEO starts with the most obvious aspects – functionality and design. To improve your website’s search engine ranking, create a better experience for the mobile audience.
If you have a complicated, difficult-to-scroll website with lengthy loading times, your mobile statistics will suffer.
So how do you maximize your site’s mobile performance? Adopt one of the following three designs.
With one URL for both desktop and mobile, a responsive design delivers basically the same content to all users–except that it changes according to the screen it’s viewed on. It detects the screen size and builds the layout accordingly.
Responsive designs work great for mobile devices, but one potential pitfall is loading time. If your pages are filled with videos and ads, it can increase loading times–and mobile users aren’t a patient bunch. If you think this may be a problem, consider using a dynamic design instead.
Similar to a responsive design, dynamic serving also has one URL for both desktop and mobile. The server detects the device before returning content and adjusts the response on a single URL.
Unlike with a responsive design, the content is different. Ads and videos may be eliminated so the content can load faster.
Dynamic serving is more complex to implement, but is useful if the desktop version of your site would slow the mobile down.
With different URLs for desktop and mobile, mobile URLs often offer a completely different experience for users on each device. Mobile URLS are a bit of an old school method, as they’ve been around since the beginning of mobile browsing. If you choose this option, you’ll essentially be dealing with two different sites in the eyes of Google.
You’ll want to make sure Google understands the relationship between the URLs so your site is visible in both mobile and desktop searches. Luckily, Google is kind enough to walk you through this process.
So how do you know if you’re using the right design?
In order to improve the experience for your mobile audience, you’ll have to understand the current state of your website. But it’s easier than you think—and there’s plenty of free tools like this one that grade your website’s mobile performance.
How do Mobile Device Users Search?
Mobile users and desktop users are not interchangeable. Mobile users search with different keywords than desktop users.
The mobile search is very often local in nature. People are walking in a certain part of town and they want to find an Italian restaurant. They’ll whip out their smartphone and search “Italian restaurant + name of the neighborhood” or “best Italian restaurant nearby.”
Have you started utilizing local keywords yet? If not, there’s no better time to start—especially for small business targeting local crowds.
According to the research, 88 percent of people looking for restaurants and 97 percent looking for bars did so using a mobile device (Bryson Meunier, Resolution Media, 2013).
To boost the mobile SEO efforts even further, create listings for your website in local directories. Options like Google Places, Foursquare and Yelp are perfect launchpads into the location-based SEO world.
Content is Still King
Whether you’re optimizing for mobile or computer, quality is crucial.
Create compelling and unique content. Update your website frequently and incorporate local keywords in the text. Make sure these are integrated in the text and natural in appearance to avoid potential penalties.
Great content for SEO purposes has the following characteristics:
- It is written for humans rather than for search engine crawlers.
- It has a catchy headline and an interesting first paragraph.
- It is specialized and written by someone knowledgeable in the topic.
- It provides unique perspective—it’s not just regurgitated from different articles.
- It is formatted in a way that increases readability – there are subheadings and bulleted lists.
Your content plan should be an important part of your mobile SEO strategy. Write a few in-depth, unique articles per week.
Remember though, that search engines can’t crawl the contents of an app. So, make sure to have an appropriate app description in the app store if you have one.
Need for Speed
The page loading speed is also a critical factor in mobile SEO.
The mobile crowd wants quick and easy access to information. If your website doesn’t deliver, the audience will simply look for another option. Don’t count on users waiting 7-10 seconds to see your precious content—it won’t happen.
Download speed is one factor that determines your website’s positioning on the search engine results page.
Official Google statements make it clear that the user experience is even more important in regards to mobile SEO. The average load speed of a mobile website today is seven seconds. Strive to decrease this to a second or two and you will be on the road to success—then you can really leave your competitors in the dust.
Mobile search engine optimization is all about giving the audience on-the-go convenience and quality. By optimizing your website’s performance and content quality, you’ll provide a satisfying experience for mobile browsers.
So go out there and create an amazing mobile experience with your website. Test it, optimize it, and test it again. The results? Well, the mobile crowd might just fall in love with your site—and your rankings will back it up!