With search as the most common starting point for mobile research at 48%, SEO for mobile becomes more than just focusing on your site’s responsiveness. It’s about making sure your mobile site shows up in search results and search engines are able to pick up and understand what your site is all about.
In 2015, Google announced that it will be adding mobile friendliness to its mobile search algorithm. That same year, they confirmed that searches took place more on mobile than on PC in 10 countries, including Japan and the US. While the other countries were never disclosed and the conclusion accounted only for searches performed on smartphones, mobile website SEO is a promising opportunity for brands to engage more with potential customers through mobile touchpoints.
What does it take to make your mobile site truly SEO-ready?
Fortunately for marketers, mobile site SEO is based on the same principles as SEO on standard web pages. If you are already implementing a decent SEO strategy for your ecommerce site, it can help poise you for success on mobile devices. In this article, we will discuss seven SEO recommendations to help you achieve better brand visibility and reap more conversions on mobile.
Focus on mobile user experience
There are plenty of ways to ensure a smooth mobile user experience and as you read more into this article, you will notice that all the other recommendations tie back to user experience.
Focusing on the experience not only makes users happy, but also search engines. It improves the technical features of your site that they need to look at to identify whether you are delivering a fantastic mobile experience or not.
Is your mobile site loading quickly?
Are the images and content loading well?
Is it easy to navigate your site?
These are just some of the questions that search engines will answer as it crawls your mobile site. Remember that anything that can make your mobile site work properly and engage more with users can rank you higher in search engines.
Keep the length of your content short. Users should be able to read the information they need quickly and without having to zoom in on their screens. Keywords definitely play a role also in content optimization, so select carefully the keywords you will be using.
Apply vertical scrolling. It’s difficult to squeeze in your content in a tiny space so make sure that it is easy for your users to scroll through your pages. Apply vertical scrolling as it is simpler and more generally accepted than horizontal scrolling.
Make site navigation intuitive and easy by making buttons and links to the deeper sections of your site easy to click on. Do not keep them too close to each other so a neighboring button or link won’t be accidentally tapped. Make your search box easier to use also by adopting a clean design similar to the one below.
Keep forms simple and easy to accomplish. People shopping on their mobile devices are most likely on the go, so minimize text input on their behalf. This makes it easy for them to accomplish any of your required transactions and proceed immediately to checkout.
Minimize your pop-ups too. It can be intrusive and frustrating especially if it is difficult to close. This can lead to high bounce rates as well.
Design for better site performance
Unlike when a user is searching for products on a PC, they are most likely not troubled by a waning 10% battery life, a mega slow mobile internet connection or a slow computing power – all of which are common issues among mobile users.
Of course, you don’t want your mobile site to be weighed down by these issues, which is why you need to design a site that’s mobile-friendly, that won’t place such a heavy load on your user’s mobile data and will display the information needed as quickly as possible.
Aside from keeping content shorter and written in legible font sizes, use smaller sizes for your product images so it loads quickly on mobile devices.
For product videos, check what will be a reasonable quality for it. You do not want to eat too much of your user’s mobile data just to load it while at the same time deliver a bad experience for users who are luckily enjoying a faster connection. At the very least, use HTML5 standards for animations to ensure a positive experience for all.
In ensuring that your site is mobile-friendly, there are three strategies you can implement to make it handle different types and sizes of view screens – by having a responsive web design, through dynamic serving and by having separate URLs.
A responsive web design uses the same HTML code on the same URL no matter what the user’s type of mobile device is. It is a recommended design pattern for mobile site seo because…
- it automatically adjusts to the screen size of the user – capable of promising a positive mobile user experience
- It is easier for people to share your content – just one link to use
- it requires less development time compared to creating multiple pages of essentially the same page
- It makes crawling efficient and ensures Google indexes more of your site’s content
Dynamic serving is where the server responds with different HTMLs on the same URL. The HTML used depends on the user agent requesting the page.
In separate URLs, each desktop URL has a corresponding URL that serves mobile-optimized content. For instance, if a desktop URL is www.site.com, a mobile URL is m.site.com.
The differences in the three are summarized in the chart below:
Whatever you choose, all these configurations will inform Google that your site is formatted for mobile devices. Your mobile site will be crawled and served to any user looking up information or product that your ecommerce site happens to offer. Check what mobile design method is best for your business. Don’t neglect the required technical codes to ensure the proper indexing of your site.
No matter how aesthetically pleasing and optimized your mobile site is, if it is not crawled and indexed properly by search engines, all that hard work won’t yield any business value.
You can also test whether your mobile pages are mobile-friendly or not with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Just enter your mobile site’s URL and allow it analyze your site for you. Similar to the robots.txt Tester, it can also tell you the resources on your mobile page that are blocked by robots.txt.
If it isn’t mobile-friendly, it will list down the reasons why it isn’t so, how Googlebot sees your page, and some mobile website seo advice on how to make it truly mobile-friendly.
Finally, if you are using separate URLs for your mobile pages, test both desktop and mobile URLs to confirm that your redirects are recognized and crawlable.
Invest on great content and promote with rich snippets
Content will never lose its currency in SEO. Aside from it being well-written and informative, content must be optimized too for a mobile device’s small screen size. “Less is more” definitely applies here.
To show off your best content for SEO, make it brief and keyword-rich. Do not sacrifice quality and your brand identity. Remember these rules when creating or re-creating your category and product pages, your titles and meta descriptions.
Use mobile-specific keywords as well. 62% of organic searches show differently on a PC and on a mobile device. To avoid the discrepancy, always track your mobile keywords so your site is serving your mobile audience well.
To know what your mobile keywords are, adjust your search settings on your Google Webmaster Tools. Apply the filters that will show only your mobile search queries. Take note of possible conversational and voice searches in your data that you can incorporate in your content.
You can also consider implementing structured data markup that allows you to identify relevant ecommerce information such as price, reviews and availability, for search engines. This helps search engines identify which content to serve up on SERPs and make it into a rich snippet.
Structured data markup offers important SEO gains specifically by improving your presence on SERPs. A search result with a rich snippet is more helpful and more likely to stand out in a mobile device with a limited screen space.
It may not be used as a ranking signal, but the gains for your mobile site SEO can be a source of improvement.
Should your ecommerce site have a physical presence, you can optimize your mobile content for local search as well. Simply standardize your business name, phone number, address complete with state name and ZIP code in your mobile site’s metadata.
You can also check out our discussion on great content from our 5-Point SEO checklist.
Ensure fast loading time
One of the best ways to have a mobile site that’s SEO-friendly is by ensuring it has a fast loading time. When page speeds are slow, search engines can crawl just a few pages. Take note that there is an allocated crawl budget per site. If the time allotted for your site will be spent crawling your large product photos and PDFs, there won’t be enough time left to crawl your other pages. Fresh content on your site will take time as well to be discovered.
Fast loading times are also essential for user experience because generally, mobile users expect quick and convenient transactions on their devices.
Make a commitment to page speed by constantly optimizing the different elements of your mobile site. You can also seek recommendations from tools such as PageSpeed Insights so you know what your next steps will be. This test will tell you the different issues that are slowing your pages down and what you should fix or consider fixing.
You can also reference these 7 speed optimization tips to help decrease your page’s loading time for more practical solutions.
Capitalize on conversational and voice searches
According to a Google survey on mobile voice, 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search on a daily basis. Both age groups use it for different reasons – for calling someone, asking for directions, checking the time, playing a song, dictating texts or even checking the movies.
Aside from the everyday convenience it provides, it also presents a great SEO advantage for mobile devices. In fact, given that more voice recognition technologies are being developed, voice search might actually be shaping the future of SEO in more ways than we think.
For instance, when looking for a flower shop in Singapore, we’d normally use short and keyword-focused queries like ‘flower shop singapore’ on a standard web page. But it’s a different case with voice search. Instead, conversational search queries will be used like ‘where is the closest flower shop?’ or ‘how far is the nearest flower shop?’.
Conversational search queries do not necessarily use keywords, but it is capable of answering what, who, why, where and how questions. Focusing your mobile content on these angles can give you an edge over your competitors.
Start optimizing your mobile site for voice search by implementing long-tail keywords since queries from voice search are long. Try putting yourself in your user’s shoes and think of the queries you’d most likely ask about your products while talking to Siri or Google’s Voice Search.
You can also have an FAQ content strategy where you can answer the what, who, why, where and how questions on your mobile pages as well as on your social media posts.
More importantly, craft your content in a natural-speaking tone. It makes your brand not only more approachable, but you customers will appreciate you talking in their tone and language.
Don’t forget mobile apps
We’ve discussed in our article on the 5 must-have SEO checklist points that part of mobile SEO are mobile apps now being indexed by Google.
Mobile apps appearing in organic mobile search results is not entirely new, but suggestions for ecommerce apps to install are now appearing.
If you already have a mobile app for your business or if you’re looking into having one developed, make sure your app’s content are optimized for search engines. Use relevant keywords and include descriptions, reviews, images, and even a preview video of what it can do to make it appear on mobile SERPs and to encourage more installs. The app rating is also included in the rich snippet so make sure to stay on top of reports and issues about your app.
Bonus: Mobile SEO Tools
The following are some mobile SEO tools we mentioned throughout the article that you can use as you explore the seven recommendations we just discussed. The insights that will be generated from these tools should help you devise a more robust SEO strategy for your mobile site.
Google Keyword Planner – To guide you in identifying what keywords you should use for your mobile pages and ad campaigns. There are other keyword tools that you can use too aside from Google.
Mobile-Friendly Test – To analyze your URL and check if it has a mobile-friendly design. It will tell you how Googlebot sees your mobile page and the others ways that can make your pages more mobile-friendly.
PageSpeed Insights – To know what you should fix and consider fixing on your site to make your pages load fast on mobile devices. It will also tell you the number of rules you passed and your user experience score.
robots.txt Tester – For testing whether your robots.txt file is blocking Google web crawlers from specific URLs on your site. Click on the link and access the tester button on the page.
Structured Data Testing Tool – In case you want to have rich snippets for your search results.
When your site appears on organic mobile search results, it’s beneficial for both your business’ exposure and conversions. With more people looking to do things including shopping for products on their mobile devices, having a mobile SEO strategy becomes just as important as having an SEO strategy for your standard ecommerce page.
Proper implementation of these mobile SEO recommendations ensures that potential customers will always find their way to you. At the same time, these recommendations promise that for every action you do to make it easy for people to use your site, your site becomes one step higher in mobile rankings.
Stay in the loop on the latest SEO for mobile updates so your site grows and adapts with the changes. It’s a way of ensuring that the benefits of mobile SEO are always within your reach.