Today, mobile matters more than ever. Smartphones and tablets now account for nearly three out of every four dollars spent online—and for 62% of all web traffic. In the U.S., consumers spend an average of almost four hours per day using these devices. These are staggering figures, reflecting a global paradigm shift that brands cannot afford to ignore. Even organizations without e-commerce infrastructure would be wise to take this data to heart, as Google and other search engines have adjusted their algorithms to weigh the mobile experience more heavily in determining overall page ranking. In order to stay competitive, brands across every industry and in all verticals must implement mobile-friendly SEO practices.
What Is Mobile-Friendly SEO?
Mobile-friendly SEO describes the process by which brands develop, design and implement web content with both the mobile user and the mobile-oriented search algorithm in mind. While this methodology has become a strategic necessity, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution; brands must think critically as they work to optimize their SEO efforts to ensure that new and existing customers are able to easily find them via their preferred platforms and channels.
To comply with mobile-friendly SEO best practices and ensure that users are getting the best possible web experience, your site should adhere to one of two basic configurations: Responsive Web Design, in which the site layout adapts automatically to the screen size of the user’s device, or Dynamic Serving, which directs the user to a different version of your site based on their device. We’ll discuss each of these two approaches in more detail below.
Responsive Web Design
Responsive Web Design is Google’s recommended configuration, and it helps to create a unified experience across all devices. Assuming the goals of your mobile and desktop sites are the same, this approach is practical, as it ensures all content is intelligently formatted to fit different screens, creating a seamless experience to drive the customer journey forward. Designing a single streamlined web experience can also save valuable time and money in development.
Dynamic Serving can be a useful approach if your mobile and desktop sites have different objectives. For example, you might want your mobile site to drive users to download an app, while utilizing your desktop site to capture leads or build brand awareness. Naturally, the experience of navigating those two sites would be very different. YouTube utilizes Dynamic Serving to tailor its homepage content based on users’ preferences and access point—mobile users will likely see vertical videos designed for smartphone screens that do not appear when the user accesses the desktop version of the site.
On-Page Mobile SEO
One of the fundamental tenets of SEO is to create websites and content for people first and foremost: Avoid keyword stuffing, eliminate duplicate pages, build reputable links and so on.
Search engine algorithms can increasingly detect and prioritize useful, user-friendly content, so it is critical to ensure your site is optimized for mobile too (be sure all content is playable, load times are quick, images and text are properly formatted and visible, etc.). This will not only help keep your site SEO compliant, but also make it more accessible and user-friendly.
Social Media SEO
Social media SEO is very much an emerging field, but one that is likely to become more and more relevant, as consumers are increasingly using the search functionality built into social media platforms to find and engage with influencers, content creators and brands. If social media represents a critical driver of traffic for your brand, optimizing your social media SEO should be a priority. The first step is to develop a keyword strategy that reflects the concerns of your users and the solutions you provide, followed by tactical considerations, such as targeting video captions to help audiences find your content.
One additional consideration, particularly for small businesses, is optimizing your SEO strategy for local visibility. Google’s mobile algorithm gives high priority to local businesses and, because fully 46% of all search queries are local, positioning yourself to reap the advantages of every local search is a must. Add or update your Google My Business page with an accurate address and contact details in order to help drive traffic to your website and customers through your door.
While considering mobile-friendly SEO is an essential task for any business that has or intends to establish a web presence, the specific approach you take will vary based on your brand’s identity, audience and overall goals and KPIs. Begin by identifying the objectives of your mobile and desktop sites (Are they different? If so, how?), and implement an approach consistent with evolving SEO best practices as well as your overall brand and digital marketing strategies.