What You Need to Teach Your Clients About Mobile Optimization
At this point in this SEO game, this probably goes without saying for marketing consultants, but your clients must optimize their websites for mobile. If they aren’t currently optimized, this should be a top recommendation you give them to ensure they stay competitive and don’t get lost in the search engine results page (SERP) jungle.
Did you know that mobile searches now take up more than half of all searches on Google? From what I can see, this mobile trend isn’t going to slow down any time soon, making this undoubtedly the future of SEO.
Google has, and will continue to change up their entire algorithm for mobile search and will cater to mobile users first and foremost (their entire business plan revolves around providing the best user experience after all).
They’re already penalizing sites (in terms of rank) who aren’t mobile-friendly, and now, their mobile-first index, which is exactly how it sounds, will rank search results based only on the mobile version of the page (regardless of if they’re using a desktop or mobile device) as opposed to taking both mobile and desktop versions into consideration.
This is not good news for people who have focused all of their time on the desktop versions of their site.
Don’t panic, though.
There are ways to tell what your current optimization status is and see where you need to improve upon to ensure you are good to go moving forward. Below are a few tips that skim the surface of this topic, but I think they’re good places to get started.
How to tell if a mobile site is optimized
Before you can start optimizing for mobile, you must have a good understanding of where you currently stand. I’d recommend using the following tools to get through the basics:
Google’s Mobile Usability Test
Found in the Google Search Console, this tool shows you if your site is having any mobile usability issues. It will actually show you if people are having trouble with your site.
Google’s Mobile-Friendly test
This tool is rather intuitive and will give you a full report simply by typing in your URL.
Tips to be successful with mobile SEO
Don’t block Google
Let Google crawl everything on your site. Many businesses still have restrictions set up against this, but I highly recommend not going that route because Google won’t fully be able to tell whether or not your site is mobile friendly (which, as I’ve established, is a big problem).
Go to your Google Search Console and take a look at your robots.txt file to see if your site is being crawled to the extent that it needs to be. If nothing is being blocked, then you’re all set!
Don’t keep mobile users in the dark
To piggyback off the last point, some businesses still block certain content from mobile users so that their pages load faster, but Google isn’t interested in sites having this type of functionality anymore since the mobile version of your site is now considered the main version of your site. If anything is hidden, Google may not have the ability to crawl that content.
Essentially, if desktop users see something that mobile users don’t, you have a problem that needs to be resolved immediately.
Let’s go back to the user experience conversation for a second. Can we all agree that nobody really loves popups? Turns out, Google feels the same way and has started taking steps to penalize sites that use them.
The importance of mobile CTR
When a link is clicked through to a page on your website from an external source, Google basically looks at that as a popularity vote notifying them they should boost your rank in SERPs. Needless to say, click-through-rates (CTRs) are a big ranking factor for Google, so if your links aren’t getting clicked on a mobile device, Google won’t received your popularity vote.
Check to see if your mobile CTRs are doing well compared to your desktop by selecting “Compare Devices” in Google Search Console’s Search Analytics. They likely won’t perfectly align, which is totally fine, but make sure your mobile CTR isn’t way below your desktop’s.
Where structured data plays in and why it’s so important
Structured data allows you to add more information to your snippet in SERPs, and the more appealing this information is, the more likely people will click to learn more.
If you’re not currently implementing this as part of your regular SEO efforts, you may want to consider doing so.
Optimize on-page ranking factors
While all ranking factors are important, I want to focus specifically on page titles and meta descriptions. Did you know Google gives you about eight more characters to work with on mobile devices for your page titles (no change with meta descriptions for now)? Not many people do.
With mobile being the name of the game, you may want to consider adding characters to the title even if it gets cut off in the desktop version of the snippet.
Accelerated mobile pages
What are accelerated mobile pages?
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are essentially web pages that have been stripped down in order to load quickly on mobile devices.
Since AMPs are a Google-led project, we assume that Google will favor AMP-friendly websites with higher rankings.
You should know, however, that there are some downsides to AMPs:
- They limit page functionality including control over your ads and popups.
- Add CSS code restrictions which can impact the look of your brand
- Impair link building efforts (helps Google’s domain authority, not yours)
- It may be a trend that doesn’t last
At the end of the day, you want to impress Google, but not at the expense of your customers’ experience.
Given this information, in my opinion, along with other marketers, I don’t think you should jump on this train just yet. Never say never, but for now, I feel like there are too many things up in the air with it.
Were you aware of this shift in focus towards mobile? Have you started implementing any of these tactics?
If this blog post is of interest to you, be sure to check in throughout the month where I’ll talk more on the mobile optimization topic, including posts on mobile content, mobile campaigns, and mobile email. Stay tuned!
Need more mobile marketing tips? Check out our entire Guide to Mobile Marketing.