The introduction and then rapid adoption of the smartphone has revolutionized mobile phone usage and how people engage with the web. There are over 3 billion smartphone users in the world today, with the United States ranking in the top three.
This transformation has become so complete that since 2015, more users have made searches on mobile devices than desktop. That same year, Google began the introduction of mobile-compatibility as a ranking factor with the so-called ‘mobilegeddon‘.
The search engine, continuing to recognize the growing prominence of mobile search for the modern user, began to take this process even further with the mobile-first algorithm in 2019. In other words, so many users used the internet through their mobile devices that Google began to look first at how a website appeared on mobile devices when determining site rankings.
Creating mobile-friendly sites
It has become critical for brands to ensure that their sites are fully mobile-compatible and ready for users accessing the site from mobile screens.
Organizations have two main options when it comes to creating a positive mobile experience for their website.
Option 1. Sub-domain approach
Mobile-only Pages (tiny pages for tiny screens). Mobile.domain.com
Disadvantage of this approach – Managing two sets of pages. One for your website and one for mobile only.
Option 2. Dynamic Mobile Pages
Deploy IT to detect devices and transcode based on mobile devices.
Disadvantages? You constantly have to update your database when new software is released or new makes/models of devices are introduced.
Option 3. Responsive Design
Responsive design pages use percentages to automatically adapt the website to the size screen that it appears on. These types of pages have become increasingly common in the age of mobile browsing, as they make it easy to maintain a site that renders correctly and clearly on all screen sizes.
Disadvantages: It can sometimes slow load times if the domain requires mobile devices to load large image files created for desktop sites. It can also be harder to create an optimal design that works well on all size screens.
Making your selection
Select the option that will work best for your business needs. Given the current mobile-first algorithm, remember the importance of focusing on the mobile design of the site, and how it appears on mobile devices, as the primary version of the page that Google examines in rankings.
SEO for mobile devices
As you build a mobile-friendly website, you will want to make sure that your site is fully optimized for users browsing on their mobile devices. Remember that mobile users may have a different user intent than those on desktop, as they are often on the go. You will need to pay attention to the SERP designs, rich results, and other signals that indicate if the user may be interested in contacting someone, going somewhere, or learning something.
Below are the SEO best practices to follow while developing your mobile website:
- Use traditional SEO practices – Use title tags (up to 63 characters or less). Alt tags
- Create a sitemap for your mobile site.
- Do your Mobile research – Understand predictive text – Optimize for predictive words that users enter while searching
- Transcoding analysis – understand how different search engines change your website. Websites are changed to be appropriately viewed on different handheld devices.
- Emulation and testing – test your site on a variety of emulators and also test it on real handsets.
- Mobile-specific analytics – Track mobile analytics specifically through Google Analytics to see how mobile users behave on the site.
- Adhere to Google’s mobile-friendly standards – check out https://developers.google.com/search/mobile-sites for more info
Creating content for your mobile site
As you optimize your mobile site, you also want to develop a content strategy that will specifically target your mobile users. Therefore, your targeted keywords and the content you develop will need to consider the needs of the mobile users.
Examine the SERP for your targeted keyword
Look at how Google displays the mobile SERP for your targeted keyword. Do they feature videos or Quick Answers at the top? Does the keyword correlate highly for people interested in making a purchase and thus Google features purchasing options along the top?
Use this insight to begin crafting your own content to ranking highly for these mobile users. You can customize your strategy according to how Google interprets the user intent to increase your chances of ranking highly.
Consider what makes your area unique
Mobile users often make local searches. They are interested in local business, navigating to local places, or learning about events and news around them. As you develop content, keep the local visitor in mind. Incorporate information regarding the area near you, particularly if you get involved in the community. Sponsoring charity events or setting up a table at a neighborhood gathering can be a great way to get your name in front of the local community and build a presence that will elevate you when it comes to local searches.
Make content easy to read on the go
Remember that mobile users often engage with your site while they are also on the go. This means they might not have time to sit and engage with lengthy, in-depth material. Creating content that is easy for them to quickly scan, giving them the ability to skip down to the portions that interest them the most, and otherwise making the content simple for mobile readers to enjoy will help.
Mobile devices only continue to become increasingly prominent as the years pass. Users have become adept and accustomed to the convenience of engaging directly from their phones, connecting them with the world of information wherever they might be. Site owners today must make sure they carefully consider the needs and interests of these mobile users, often even prioritizing them over desktop users. As you build and optimize your site, keep these ideas in mind and regularly check your site on mobile screens to make sure you are fully ready for the mobile user and the mobile-first algorithm.
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