Optimizing your website for mobile is a must in 2017.
Besides entertaining apps, users are looking for solutions, researching businesses and navigating with their smartphones. As smartphones become increasingly integrated into our lives and business, it only makes sense that search engines want to improve the mobile search experience.
Smartphones come in varying sizes, with different capabilities that can impact the way your web pages appear on a mobile screen or tablet, which offer less screen space than a desktop or laptop. Connectivity issues can arise if your site is poorly configured, your hardware needs updating, or your host provider lacks reliable networking/security.
Is Mobile SEO Important?
Mobile marketing research from comScore and KPCB has shown astounding market growth in mobile usage year over year since 2008. Data from 2015 revealed that 51 per cent of users spend approximately 2.8 hrs or more interacting with their smartphone, compared to only 12 per cent of users in 2008. Automotive, Home & Garden, and Apparel & Beauty categories dominate 48 per cent of mobile searches.
Researching mobile trends will give you a decided advantage over local competitors who overlook the benefits of mobile SEO. Although conversion rates for mobile still lag behind desktop, we’re likely to see an increase in smartphone purchases as access and online security improve globally.
Get a head start on your mobile optimization, and start with these 6 key tips for mobile SEO in 2017:
- Responsive design will give you an edge on Google: Google prefers websites that are optimized for responsive design, and since the majority of local web searches will likely come from Google, a responsive design is a must.
Most website builders and blog platforms use a responsive design that adapts fluidly to either desktop or mobile. Responsive design automatically optimizes the layout and orientation of your site to suit the appropriate screen. To communicate with web crawlers the specific media features of your web pages, CSS3 media queries are attached to the style sheet of your web pages, making it easier to alter their appearance without affecting the content.
- Avoid Pop-ups and Flash: Smartphones using Google will now reduce the ranking of websites that utilize pop-up ads. Considered undesirable by users, Google has taken steps to encourage business owners to find more creative, less intrusive ways of promoting their content. Pop-ups drive your bounce-rate up, a sign to web crawlers that people are leaving your site quickly.
- Secure your site: HTTPS sites rank higher on Google Chrome searches than sites on unsecure networks. Security is a concern for users, and if your website offers products to sell, a secure website assures users that their sensitive banking information will be safe in your hands. Mobile Google Chrome users are notified in their browser when they arrive at a site that is not secure, which will deter them from clicking your link, even if you’re ranking high in search results.
- Improve your Page speed: While largely a technical issue, the load time of your pages can raise your bounce rate and send your rankings plummeting on local SERP’s. Google PageSpeed will analyze your pages, and provide you with insights you can share with your web administrator, or implement yourself if you have the know-how.
- Use structured data mark-up to enrich your appearance in SERP’s: structured data provides users and search engines with more detail about the topic of their search. Adding details to your restaurant listing such as star ratings, reviews snippets, tag lines, brand logo, and images, will make your online listing in search results more attractive, as well as more useful than a black and white text description. They can be particularly helpful when trying to rank for an organization, event, creative work, or place. A Thai restaurant, for example, can be enriched with a description of the atmosphere, cuisine, seating capacity, images, hours of operation and other useful tidbits.
Schema.org is a structured data mark-up tool that’s universally recognized by web crawlers (Google, Bing, Yahoo). Facebook has its own structured mark-up tool called OpenGraph, which will work with Schema.org, but you can’t substitute OpenGraph for Schema because your mark-up won’t be recognized by any of the major search engines.
- A physical address is key to topping local rankings. Even if you’re a freelancer who works largely from home, a physical address adds legitimacy to your business, which is a key Google ranking factor. When a web crawler searches other citations of your business online and matches the address information, you’ll rank higher than competitors who fail to include their information, while increasing your odds of being seen with other legitimate competitors located in your neighborhood or region.