Search engine optimization is an ever-changing practice. This means your SEO campaigns have to adapt and change with the times or else you’ll be banished to the bottom of the search engine result pages.
One of the changes you have to make is a shift in focus toward mobile optimization. While traditional forms of SEO are still relevant, Google is moving its attention toward mobile traffic, which means you should too.
We’re going to discuss mobile optimization in this article, touching on what it is, why it’s so important, and how to go about doing it.
So, What Is Mobile Optimization?
The general idea behind mobile optimization isn’t too different from traditional SEO.
If you’re unfamiliar with some of the particulars of search engine optimization, we’ll give you a brief rundown. After all, this is a beginner’s guide!
The Basics of Optimization
Search engine optimization is the act of making your site fit the specifications and preferences of search engines. Most of the time, we’re trying to optimize for Google.
Search engines like Google generate search results through the use of an algorithm, which takes roughly 200 factors into account before creating a list of sites.
When a user types a keyword phrase into the search bar, those terms are run against a search engine’s entire index. The algorithm then uses its numerous search factors to identify the pages on the web that are most relevant to the user search.
Optimization is an effort to rank as the top result for particular keyword phrases.
This entire process is also true for mobile optimization, although there are slightly different actions to take. Mobile optimization is the act of optimizing your pages to be more fit for mobile users, as search engines tend to make the distinction between desktop and mobile searches.
As the web shifts in a mobile direction, the distinction between mobile and desktop may get a little blurrier, which is one of the reasons why it’s time to shift your SEO focus.
We’ll talk more about the specifics of mobile optimization in a bit, but first, let’s talk about why it’s so important to focus on mobile traffic in this day and age.
Why Mobile Optimization Is so Important
Before we give you a layout of what to do for mobile optimization, we’ll give some insight into its importance. Take a look at the following points:
1. Mobile Searches Are Growing
It’s always a great idea to meet user needs. Users are progressively using their phones to access search engines, and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing. As smartphones and mobile activity ramp up, mobile searches will follow.
In fact, mobile searches have recently surpassed desktop and tablet searches, becoming the most popular search method online. So it makes sense to optimize mobile pages if customers are operating online in a dominantly mobile way.
2. Search Engines Are Indexing Mobile-First
Google has recently stated that it will shift toward a “mobile-first” approach to indexing.
This means they’ll take the mobile version of a page over the desktop page. At this point, that doesn’t mean too much for site owners.
If you don’t have a mobile page on your site, it doesn’t mean you won’t rank well or be indexed. The current shift just means that, given the option, Google will rank your mobile page in place of the desktop page.
Your desktop pages will still work on user cellphones, although your interface might be less responsive to their needs and provide a poorer user experience. So you’ll still be available online, but your site might not be as enjoyable as a competitor’s who has optimized for mobile.
While mobile-first doesn’t have a huge effect yet, it indicates that Google is shifting in a mobile direction. They’re liable to make sweeping changes that heavily favor mobile sites.
If there aren’t grand changes to the algorithm, we can reasonably infer that there will be a progression of small changes that benefit mobile pages. It would be wise to get ahead of the curve and start optimizing for mobile now.
3. Voice Search Is Mobile
You may not be a huge fan of Siri or Alexa, but the fact is, voice search is on the rise. As technology makes voice search easier and more effective, people will begin incorporating it into their lives.
Amazon and Google’s voice search technology is now ubiquitous among family homes with Alexa and Google Assistant.
It’d be wise to get out in front of this trend as well, considering few businesses have considered voice search in their optimization campaigns. It’s important to note that these searches exist under the mobile umbrella, and will be hugely important in years to come.
4. People Shop Mobile
Many consumers are shifting their product research into a mobile activity. In other words, people search, think about, and buy products on their phones these days.
Think about it: when you want to find some kind of product or service, you search “best haircut near me,” or “best ceramics store near me.”
You aren’t the only one doing it either. In fact, mobile “best” searches like the ones listed above have grown 80% in the last couple of years. Those searches have always taken place, but they’re shifting into the mobile domain.
Now that we’ve covered a bit about why mobile is important, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to do it.
How to Optimize for Mobile Traffic
There’s a huge overlap between desktop and mobile optimization methods. Again, because this is a beginner’s guide, let’s cover some of the fundamental pieces of your overall SEO campaign.
We’ll begin with the factors that apply both to mobile and desktop optimization.
The foundation of any optimization effort is the keyword phrase. This is the term users type in when they’re searching for something.
Our goal as optimizers is to identify keyword trends, optimize for them, increase web traffic, and increase conversions. The first step in that equation is identifying keyword trends through research.
Google Analytics is the most common interface people use to conduct research. Through interfaces like Google Analytics, it’s possible to see the volume of keyword searches, the areas in which they’re searched, the competition you have when trying to rank for that keyword, and a whole lot more.
Once you find the term to optimize for, you should then create content that relates to the topic and contains well-placed keyword phrases in the correct spots.
However, don’t stuff your content full of keywords where they don’t fit. Try to use the phrase wherever appropriate: in the introduction, at least one header, and in the conclusion.
The next piece in the puzzle is the creation of regular content. When you conduct research and identify a high-volume keyword with low competition, create a blog post or a similar form of content that can be optimized for that term.
Once you get into the swing of things, pumping out well-optimized posts will become second nature. You need this stream of content to spread your content out to each corner of your niche and to push that content on your various social media platforms.
Having relevant, shareable content is an essential piece of both mobile and desktop optimization.
The two practices above are just a couple of the most important pieces of general optimization. If you’re interested in getting more insight into the foundations of SEO, professional optimization sites like SEOexplode are equipped with the comprehensive information you’re looking for.
With those things out of the way, let’s take a look at some mobile-specific practices:
1. Check Your Mobile Usability
The first thing you should do is run your site by the source itself: Google.
Google Search Console allows you to take a peek at some of your metrics, as well as run a search on the viability of your mobile pages. It can be difficult to comb through your website looking for errors that could affect your mobile rankings, especially if you’re new to the process of mobile optimization.
Luckily, Google Search Console gives you the rundown on issues that may be affecting your user experience, search rankings, and more. You’ll get a report that states whether or not your site is mobile-friendly, as well as a read-out of the issues your site contains.
This is the first step you should take in your mobile optimization efforts. You’ll have a clear idea of the work you need to do after your mobile usability report.
2. Get Rid of Those Popup Ads
There may be millions of sites that preach the gospel of popups, and they may lead to marginal increases in conversions, but get rid of them.
Sure, you’ll direct a small percentage of users toward a target page, but most people will get irritated. There’s nothing worse than not being able to read the full text of a page because there’s a constant stream of pop-up advertisements.
Google’s main goal is to rank sites with great user experience, and it knows that popups are the bane of most people’s online experience. So even though your mobile site has well-designed popups, your optimization will improve if you get rid of them altogether.
3. Check Your Site Yourself
It may like an obvious thing, but make sure you browse through each piece of your site yourself. Check with your desktop computer as well as your cell phone and tablet.
If you have a good user experience on your own site, odds are, Google’s algorithm is sophisticated enough to notice the quality of your page. Generally, if your mobile site runs smoothly on all fronts, you’re doing well.
Check all links, page arrangments, text sizes, and any other page elements you may have incorporated.
4. Mobile Keyword Optimization
Remember that people have less space to explore, read, and click when they’re operating on a phone. Meta descriptions, titles, and even keyword phrases in some cases need to be limited when optimized for mobile.
Try to be as concise as you can when thinking of all forms of mobile text.
5. Focus More Heavily on Local
Think about your own experience again. When you’re out and about and looking for a product or service, you’re more likely to conduct a local search than you are when you’re using a desktop.
“Near me” searches and “best” searches are increasingly mobile, and you should factor this into your optimization. This may mean creating more localized pieces of content, focusing your attention on existing locally-optimized pages, and ensuring all of your location-specific pages are optimized for mobile.
Have Faith in the Process
It’s crucial you have faith in the process of SEO and give your campaign time to flourish. Take in as much new SEO information as you can and incorporate it into your efforts as you see fit.
Optimization takes some time to take hold, and various pieces of the process take longer than others to start sending results back to your page.
Additionally, make sure you’re comprehensive and persistent with your campaign. If you’re feeling like optimizing your site will require more effort than you can give, it may be a good idea to talk to a professional.
You don’t have to go through the process alone, and there are skilled individuals out there who have a lot of experience in SEO. These are people who have actually grown a page to reach the top spot in a search result.
While there’s a lot you can do on your own, seeing exceptional rises in traffic is a lot more likely if you work with someone who has a solid understanding of optimization.
Think You’ll Need Some Help?
SEO follows a formula, but it’s a complicated one. It often seems like keeping a well-optimized site is a full-time job. Optimization done right takes time, effort, and skill.
If you’re interested in boosting your mobile traffic with the help of pros, then explore our site for the information you need.