They used to say that mobile is the way of the future; that is no longer the case. Mobile is the way of today AND the future.
Google has been working on separating mobile and desktop search indexes, and they have made mobile the primary index.
Although SEO experts have been singing about mobile optimization, not many businesses have taken this seriously.
Ever since the year 2014, mobile use on the Internet surpassed desktop use, and business owners and bloggers have not yet taken mobile SEO seriously.
In the United States of America, 71% of all browsing was done using mobile devices.
Smartphones especially have surpassed the use of any other mobile device and they are the ones that you should target when you are optimizing your blog or website for mobile.
So, it makes perfect sense that you should start optimizing your website or blog for mobile browsing, right?
This article will show you 12 steps that you can follow in order to optimize your website for mobile.
Roll up your sleeves and let’s get started.
#1: There’s no need for a separate URL
Now, when people started optimizing their websites for mobile, they had a new URL that placed a small “m” in front of their normal URL.
The small m usually appeared when people started browsing the internet using their mobile devices. The m. subdomain was separate from the original domain of the website.
The main aim was to create a separate layer of a website for mobile devices and another one for desktop devices.
Did this improve the user experience?
Perhaps it did.
Was this the best solution when it came to SEO?
Of course not.
When using the separate “m” subdomain, websites brought about a lot of problems when it came to SEO.
The first one was the need to set up redirects between the two versions of the website or blog so that users always came up to the correct site depending on the device being used.
It was very easy to mess up with the redirects.
Another issue is the fact that using the “m” subdomain ended up splitting the traffic and authority of a website between desktop and mobile devices.
Another issue was the fact that websites could be penalized for using duplicate content on the two different versions.
This means that the “m” subdomain is not good for SEO purposes and you should not use it on your website or blog.
There is a way out for this problem.
You should ensure that your website is responsive enough to fit well on any mobile device.
This way, the desktop, and mobile versions use the same URL and still give users a great experience irrespective of the device that they are using.
This takes us to the next step.
#2: Make your website responsive
A responsive website is one that automatically adapts to the size of the screen size of the device being used.
Responsive design is one of the major pillars of mobile SEO.
A responsive design does not know how to fit a screen size all on its own, and you have to do this manually.
Thankfully, there are many web design tools that make this task quite easy.
If you want to get into the code, there are a few things that you should always consider:
Viewport – Using the following code, you can ensure that the design fits any screen.
<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0″>
Image size – this code uses the max-width property to fit images to the particular device being used
<img src=”img.jpg” style=”max-width:100%;”>
Text size – this makes the text fit and scroll properly on mobile devices. The code uses viewport width to scale the text. 1 vw is equal to 1% of the viewport width.
Once you have added the code to your website design code, you should test the design and see that it is responding the way you want it to.
The responsive Web Design Tester will be able to test the design for you, hosing you how the website will look across a wide range of mobile and desktop devices.
As we mentioned earlier there are tools that enable you to design a responsive website very easily.
#3: Optimize the page loading speed
Loading speed improves user experience and this is something that curries favor with the search engines.
The loading speed affects:
- The user experience
- The rate at which users stay on the site or move away
- The way in which your users use the site
- The google rank
These are factors that you cannot ignore if you want to optimize your website for browsing on mobile devices.
Mobile users are mostly on the move and they want to get information as fast as possible, and will normally bounce off if the site takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Since the page load speed is very crucial, here are some things that you should do:
- Optimize your images
- Optimize the code of your website
- Use compression
- Use browser caching to improve speeds
- Make sure your site is hosted on a powerful CDN or server
- Make sure that you use Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP
- Use tools like GTmetrix to find out what exactly is slowing down your website. You can set the tool to scan your site automatically every week so you are always on top of how fast your site loads and what could be slowing it down.
#4: Use enough spacing between elements
The design of a website also plays a crucial role in how users enjoy browsing your website on their mobile devices.
One thing that many people do is tend to squash everything within the screen, and this makes everything look small and inaccessible.
One of the reasons why you should give enough space between elements is the fact that mobile devices are operated through touch.
People are using their thumbs to scroll through the site.
If you have elements that are scrunched up together, browsing will be tedious, especially when the elements are links to other parts of the site.
It does not make sense when someone wants to go to a certain page and ends up clicking on another page simply because the links are crowded together.
You, as a webmaster should make sure that the links are properly spaced apart.
When a website is comfortable to browse, people will want to keep coming back to it.
#5: Sort out technical errors
Websites are technical entities, and they operate according to the way they are technically set up.
Without much input from the user, they should do several things in the background to ensure that they serve up information as fast as possible and displays it well.
Sometimes, websites will break down and you should be ready to sort out such technical errors.
However, the technical issues are not so serious as to affect your core business, but they can be a nuisance to users who may end up abandoning your website.
Here are some of the technical issues that you should sort:
- Broken images
- Broken links
- Broken redirects
- Indexing issues
- And so much more
Basically, you cannot afford to ignore these issues and you should be on the lookout for them so they do not pile up.
You can use an audit tool such as SEMrush’s Site Audit Tool to find errors on your website
Once you find them, don’t wait for them to pile up; fix them as soon as they crop up, and you can rest easy knowing that you are giving your site visitors the best user experience possible.
#6: Learn more about HTML5
Gone are the days when people used to dazzle their users with fantastic flash elements. Flash is still being used on many websites, but when it comes to optimizing for mobile, you are better off using HTML5.
There is a problem because many mobile devices do not support flash elements, which makes them obsolete when creating a website that should be viewed across all devices, desktop, and mobile.
Given that a small percentage of mobile devices support flash elements, you risk losing a lot of potential customers by using flash.
Luckily, there are WYSIWYG web design tools that enable you to assemble HTML5 elements and see how they look like before you publish your website.
#7: Use Pop-ups only when you MUST
Pop-ups have become somewhat of a nuisance and spoil the user experience when browsing a website.
This is why you should avoid them like the plague unless you really have to use them.
Everybody hates it when they are going through some interesting web content and a pop-up suddenly interrupts them.
Definitely, websites have to be able to generate revenue from advertising, but there should be a way of making the experience tolerable without using pop-ups.
Make sure that your use of op-ups is less intrusive, especially when you are optimizing for mobile devices. If you must use pop-ups, make sure that they are small and only take up a small portion of the screen.
There are certain popups that you cannot avoid using, and these are allowed to use up as much screen size as possible:
- Content Warnings
- Age Verification
#8: Ensure proper visibility of crucial content
Of course, many people will roll up their eyes when they see this part and exclaim how obvious this is, but you would be surprised to know how many websites hide their most crucial content by mistake.
Important content is that which makes people come to your website. It is what makes your website different from all the others within your niche.
When people visit your website, they want to find the following:
- Content that is easy to see
- Content that is not hidden – sometimes webmasters choose to hide some content from mobile devices.
In the first case, all you have to do is ensure that all your content is clearly visible on a mobile screen, This means having the content organized in a manner that does not require zooming in.
The text should be large and easily readable. The images should also be clear with every detail clearly seen without zooming in.
In the second case, you must be conscious about the content that you want to hide from people using mobile devices. This is done when some parts of a website are designed to be hidden when the site is being browsed using a mobile device.
Make sure that the hidden content is not crucial information.
Altogether, avoid hiding content using these methods:
- Using the “Read More” button
- Using unsupported content such as Flash elements
- Using CSS to mask content on mobile devices
- Making content disappear into the background by using the same colors for text and background.
When you hide your content, the user experience is affected.
Google may also think that you are cloaking your content and issue a manual restriction, which would hurt your rankings.
#9: Keep your Metadescription within the character limits
When you go to the SERPs, would you click on a result if you cannot read the full Metadescription?
When you are filing in your web page titles, descriptions, and URL’s make sure that you stay within the maximum allowed character limit.
You want to optimize your website so you get the most clicks from organic searches, right?
This means that you need to show as much crucial information within the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), without having them cropped out.
There is a character limit tied to every device type and you must make sure that yours fits on all devices.
For instance, When it comes to your Metadescription, a desktop computer will show up to 158 characters, while a mobile device will show up to 120 characters.
You must therefore make sure that your Metadescription is within the 120-character limit so it can be seen properly on all devices.
If you are creating a website using WordPress, there are plugins that you can use to set the character limits on every device.
Yoast SEO is one free tool that you can use.
#10. Ignore social media at your own peril
People access social media on their mobile devices much more than they do on desktop devices.
You must use it to promote your site when you are undertaking mobile SEO.
Here are some of the reasons why you should include social media on your website.
- User experience – people browsing using mobile devices love social media. In 2017, more than 95% of Facebook users accessed the platform using their mobile devices.
- Long Dwell times and Low bounce rates – When you give users a reason to stay on your website, then you reduce the bounce rate and improve the dwell times. These are very important ranking factors for search engines.
- Reach – When you add content that your readers love, and you give them the means to share the content on social media, they will do so, and increase your reach.
- Social trust – people use social media to learn about a wide range of products and services. If your readers share your content on social media, you get trust from their networks and increase traffic to your site.
These are benefits that you cannot ignore. This is why you must have social media integrated into your mobile web design.
Let’s proceed and see how you can do this.
If you want to reap the benefits of integrating social media on your website, there are a few things that you must do:
- Add social sharing buttons on your website
- Add a sharing counter which shows readers how many times the content has been shared. This somehow entices more people to share the content with their own networks.
- Apart from social sharing buttons, you should also include links to your own social media accounts, where people can follow your feed and interact with you better.
- Allow people to comment on your social media posts.
#11: Do not ignore local search for your local customers
You would not believe it but there are many people who look for local businesses, cafes, restaurants, etc.
You risk losing a lot of local customers, who may be on the streets looking for products and services from local businesses if you do not optimize your website for local search.
There are several things that you should do in order to optimize your website for local search, and these are:
Make sure that your address, phone number, and working hours are prominently displayed on your mobile website. This information should not just be placed in a small section at the bottom of the page.
Provide fast answers – mobile searches are designed for quick and short answers. This is why you need to use snippets properly and give a Metadescription that fits well within the SERPs.
Make local CTAs. These are buttons such as click to call, send a message, create pre-order, get directions among many others. Users will be glad that they can click and get instant answers on their mobile devices.
If you are running an eCommerce website, then you should ensure that the checkout process can be completed in a single form. They should have product information, a way to purchase, and a way to contact customer support.
#12: Make good use of video
Today, video is one of the most appealing content formats for mobile device users.
Videos are trending everywhere from social media to blogs to eCommerce sites.
You should, however, know how to use video properly on your website for purposes of mobile dissemination.
When you want to show a video on your website, it would be best to upload it to a video-sharing platform and then embed it on your site.
You can use Vimeo, YouTube, Twitch, Dailymotion, and many more.
If you embed a video from another content creator, perhaps to emphasize a point, you should give credit to the creator.
Why should you embed video?
Well, the first and most straightforward reason is that video hosted elsewhere allows your site to load faster.
Most websites will allow the video to play on a small pop-up window, preferably when using YouTube and once the video is complete, the user can continue browsing without having to reload the page.
Also, you will be using several platforms to disseminate the video content, which will increase your reach.
Video can also be used to collaborate with influencers who would be happy to share their expertise on your website.
See how you can work with influencers using mutually beneficial arrangements, or you can compensate them financially to use video to promote your products and services even on your own website.
Now that you have seen how to optimize your website for mobile users, you should go ahead and practice what has been listed and gain the advantage of being found on mobile devices.
You should ensure that you constantly check on your website so you address any technical hitches that may come up.
Mobile browsers are changing rapidly and some issues can crop up which you must address so your site continues to respond well on new mobile browsers.
Take advantage of mobile web design tools, which most web hosts are giving for free. This way, you can be sure that your mobile website will respond in the manner that you are designing it to be.
Mobile SEO is a crucial step that you must undertake if you want to compete in a market where people are using their mobile devices to browse for products and services and ultimately make purchases.
Well, after you have optimized your website for mobile, you can share your experience with us in the comments section below.