When it comes to mobile devices you may be 1 of the 3 individuals currently reading this article from your mobile device.
When it comes to your website how much time does your audience spend looking at your site from their mobile devices compared to their desktop?
This is something that many developers and site owners tend to ignore. As an SEO consultant, it is one of the many items discussed when reviewing a website and discussing an audit.
What Is Mobile Optimization?
Mobile optimization focuses on the process of providing users with a great mobile experience of your website.
This focuses on making sure the text is large enough to read, images load fast and are of the right width for the size of the mobile device, avoid ad pop-ups on mobile, and overall page speed is making sure your website loads quickly.
As more and more users spend time on their mobile devices you have to spend more time on your website and how well the web design works with mobile first-indexing.
Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?
The default answer should be yes and if you are not sure there are a few ways for you to find out.
Google Search Console
Log into Google Search Console and in the Enhancement section click on Mobile Usability and that will tell you if you have any errors and items you can improve on.
Chrome Developer Tool
If you are using Chrome and right-click on the browser and select Inspect, then click on the mobile version of your website. This will allow you to see how your website looks on mobile. You can get a clear view of how everything looks like your user.
Ask A Friend
Ask a few people who will give you an honest answer on the way your mobile site looks. Getting honest feedback will let you see what your audience may be struggling with.
By adding this you can see how users engage on your site and where they drop off. Heatmaps are great to see where user intention is and how that is impacting your website.
With a Heatmap you see where the attention is when it comes to your website and where you need to make improvements.
If you are using a tool like SEMRush, Sitebulb, or Ahrefs they can crawl your website and provide you an audit of your mobile site.
These tools tend to have their own bots like Google that can crawl your website and let you know what is working well and where you can make improvements.
Google’s Mobile-First Index
On July 1st, 2019 Google pulled the trigger with mobile-first indexing being the default option to index a site or a page. If you talk with anyone providing SEO services you will find part of the conversation should discuss Google’s mobile-first indexing.
Does this mean that there is no desktop indexing? The answer is no. Mobile-first indexing includes both desktop and mobile as one so it will not provide a negative impact on indexing your site.
Before you would get mobile results different from desktop results. Now it no longer matters what device you are using Google will show you the best result.
With mobile-first indexing make sure Googlebot can access and render your content. Take the following steps for your mobile SEO efforts. Make sure your website does not have a separate mobile and desktop version of your website.
Responsive Website Design
A responsive website can transition from desktop, to tablet, to mobile and any browser size without disrupting the structure of the website. Using a responsive layout will save you from having to update two sites.
A responsive site can get updated one time and it will have the changes when you view the site on mobile.
We are going to dig into a list of items you should take into account when it comes to mobile SEO best practice.
Use The Same Meta Robots Tags
If you are still using two separate sites: Desktop and Mobile.
Make sure you are using the same meta robots tag on mobile and desktop. If you are using a different robots tag for desktop and mobile such as no-index for one site and no-follow for another site you could be blocking half your site.
Don’t Lazy Load Primary Content
If a user has to click, slide or type any of your content for the interaction aspect it will make it harder for the page to get crawled. Google wants static content to get crawled by their Google bots.
Keep the fancy sliding content to a minimum.
What is Lazy Load?
Lazy load delays items from loading right away until they are needed. By holding off some items your site can load faster and improve performance.
The goal of the lazy load is to improve the site load time by having web pages reduce page weight (additional code that gets pulled in) for a quicker page load time.
When it comes to page loading a static site goes a long way and really doesn’t pull much to make your page load fast. If you are using WordPress WP Rocket or Lazy Load plugin can help improve site speed.
Selecting The Right Hosting
With mobile-first indexing, you have to take into consideration that your hosting provider may not be working for you.
Our website is on WordPress and we are hosted with WPEngine and they focus on WordPress websites. They understand the power of the platform and what it takes for it to perform and load fast.
Certain hosting providers have made improvements when it comes to their efforts with WordPress but you are better off doing research and finding a hosting provider who can handle what your site needs.
As your site grows with more content, images, and files you will need to consider selecting a hosting provider who can handle all the additional pages of your site.
Content Should Be The Same on Desktop and Mobile
This is probably the #1 reason to have a responsive website. By having separate content on mobile and desktop you are at risk of half your site not getting ranked.
Separate content on two separate sites requires more work as you are trying to rank for two sites not one.
This is double the effort and you will find yourself paying double for this effort. Your mobile site and desktop site will be treated as two separate entities and unless your site is responsive you are going to have to do double the work to rank for two different websites.
You can find yourself in a position where your content is inconsistent, with different headings, shorter paragraphs, missing internal linking, and on-page optimization.
You would have to do two separate link building campaigns to help the desktop and mobile site to rank for the same SERP.
Creating a responsive website will allow you to avoid the pitfalls of updating two separate websites and reduce spending.
Structured data makes it easier for Google to understand additional content on the website. This provides Google with the best way to read your website as it crawls it. This is a format that Google uses to get the information from the content on your site.
Building a solid content strategy for your service pages, products, and blog posts provides the avenue needed for Google to understand the message your website is providing.
Google uses Structured Data to help provide special search results. The shared information that you would typically not see.
For example, you have a food recipe appear on the search result and you get information on how many calories it is prep time, and how many reviews it has.
This level of insight you would only see after you visit the actual article.
Ad Placement on Mobile Devices
When you own a blog one of the main channels of revenue is loading your site with ads. You will see ads in headers, sidebar, and in the footer section.
When you review the site on a mobile device having an ad so high up in the fold will knock your content down and can turn a user away.
When it comes to images it is important to also follow best practices for file name and quality. Images can tell a story and can even hinder how fast your website loads.
- High-quality images are easy to view on mobile.
- Image format (JPG, PNG, SVG). I would lean more to SVG or jpg for the web and use png files for graphic design.
- File name and Alt text for Google to crawl the image as this helps the bots with the content on the site.
Check out our article that digs deeper into image optimization
Just like images if you do not properly format your videos for your site you can have long load times and users going somewhere else to get their information.
Many websites upload their videos into a folder within their server. The issue with managing your videos is if you have a shared hosting account you are not the only one running a website. You will impact not just your website but those you are hosted with.
If you move to a dedicated host that only has your website the issue then becomes all the videos you are storing within your hosting provider.
It is best to have your videos uploaded to a website like YouTube or Vimeo. With YouTube being one of the top 5 search engines you can optimize your video to rank and perform well within the platform. You are able to embed the videos from your channel straight to the website and this will reduce storage and improve load time for your pages.
When you embed a video to your website and a user views it on desktop or mobile the video will load and resize appropriately for the user.
Check out our article on Youtube Channel Optimization
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
As your competitors continue to get better at understanding how the web works it is important for you to stay on top of things and also join the race. You are never too late to join the party and make your website stand out.
Take the time to review your site and take the steps to improve it so that your audience can find you whether they are using desktop or mobile.
- Every 1 and 3 users are on mobile.
- Lazy load provides better load time.
- Select the right hosting provider. Dedicated IP is better than using a Shared IP with other websites that may have a lot of items on their server.
- Structured data allows you to share the content with additional information and crawled by Google bots.
- Use no ads or reduce the number of ads that appear on mobile. Don’t discourage your users from leaving your site.
- High-quality images with proper file format can provide a positive impact on your load time.
- High-quality videos that can be easily viewed on mobile is important and using a platform like YouTube to host your videos can help.