Mobile SEO 101 Guide
SEO Mobile Checklist
It’s important to understand that Google is mobile first. Back in 2015 mobile searches surpassed searches on a desktop for the first time. Since then, the gap is only widening (28.7 billion more mobile searches than desktop in 2018) and Google has since responded by making their entire algorithm, “Mobile First” This means that regardless of the device someone uses to search, Google uses the mobile version of your site to determine where it should rank. With 58% of all searches coming from mobile devices, this was the only logical move for Google.
We are going to go through a checklist of things you need to do in order to make sure you are set up to succeed in the mobile-first world. Some suggestions are more technical than others but understand that like “regular” SEO, it almost always boils down to what you let Google see UX, and click-through rates.
Master Mobile Site speed
Google wants your site to load fast. Why? Because we all want your site to load fast! Google wants its users (95% of the mobile searching public) to have the best experience possible so we keep coming back to their search engine. (believe it or not, there are others) Having a slow load time is a sure-fire way to get someone to immediately bounce off your page and find something else. As your slow page begins to rack up “bounces” you’ll eventually be removed from the results.
Google actually recommends that your site loads in under a second for mobile users. I know that sounds really hard to accomplish and it is. Don’t panic. We have Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool that will let you know how quickly your site. Is currently loading on mobile and also gives you some tips on how to increase that speed as much as possible.
Use HTML5 For Video and Animated Content
iOS refuses to run Flash so no apple users will be able to load your content if that content is coded in Flash. Also, HTML5 isn’t proprietary so there aren’t royalty fees for using it or anything. Just use it.
Optimize Your Title Tags for Mobile SERPs
This is a weird one, but Google actually gives you more title tag characters to work with on mobile as opposed to desktop. On the desktop, you have approximately 70 characters to work with whereas on mobile you have approximately 78. This might not be earth-shattering for some, but if you’ve found yourself shortchanging your tags to fit under 70 characters, stretch out a little!
Meta descriptions are around the same 155 characters on both platforms.
Use Structured Data to Stand Out in Mobile SERPs
We’ve all seen mobile search results populate the top of the page with “cards” If you want to appear in these cards, above what looks like the “standard” search results, make sure you are utilizing structured data from Schema.org.
Structured data can add stars from user reviews, images of recipes and even event dates you’ve published all within the results. These may seem like small additions, but they’ve been proven to massively increase click-through rates which we all know are a huge factor in staying in the results pages.
Use Responsive Design
If you haven’t set your site up with responsive design for mobile, you should. Use the “Viewport” meta tag in order to make sure your site changes size based on the device a particular user is viewing your site with. Google recommends you set up your viewport meta tag like this:
<meta name-viewport content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1”>
Also, using responsive design means you aren’t messing around with dynamic serving or, god forbid, setting up mobile specific URLs like “m.website.com” Using these other methods can cause issues with SEO due to duplicate content, which then leads to headaches with canonical tags and re-directs etc. Responsive design just makes your site more user friendly which is exactly what Google wants.
Still, don’t believe me? Well, Google says to use it too.
Finally, my personal favorite…
Get rid of Interstitial Pop-ups
Look, everyone hates pop-ups. No one sees a pop and says to themselves, “YES, something other than what I clicked on” It’s possible you are getting some leads from your pop-ups or capturing some emails at least, but still, get rid of them. Remember, UX is a huge part of ranking in the mobile-first world and Google hates to see the content it’s trying to deliver, blocked by a pop-up. They even released an update that targets what it deems “intrusive” pop-ups.
Interstitials aren’t that effective, people hate them, it heavily increases your bounce rates, get rid of them.
“Mobile SEO” doesn’t deviate from our general SEO principles. Google wants to offer its users great content and wants to make sure their experience on the websites they offer up is as good as it can be. There are some different hoops to jump through in order to get that job done in a mobile-first world but, always keep the basics in mind and you’ll continue to see success.
Brian – contributor to Enlightened Digital, long-distance cyclist, and lifelong advocate for women in business from Philadelphia. Tech and business are my lifeblood, but I’m also a fanatic of brewpubs and just about every sports team in Philadelphia.