How to Kick Ass in Mobile SEO

If you’re a savvy website owner, you probably have a mobile site up and running (at least we hope you do, because you shouldn’t miss out on the steadily growing mobile market). But you can’t just throw up a mobile site and hope it will be a success.

In order for your mobile site to thrive, you need to give your site a little mobile SEO love—which isn’t as simple as it sounds, because mobile SEO comes with its own set of best practices. Read on for our top tips on how to kick ass at mobile SEO.

Keep High Quality Content on Mobile

Mobile SEOThe same rules that apply to great web content — focus on the target audience, build the right tone for your brand, create content that targets keywords your audience is searching for — apply to online mobile content too. While it might be tempting to use a mobile template for your site, this will likely result in content that is cut off, and thus, a low quality user experience.

If your content is already concise and clear, you will do better to fully optimize your site, so all content that’s accessible to desktop users is also available mobile users. (Mashable terms this a “Device Agnostic Approach“) Adopting this technique will also boost your search rankings, as you will have more content that creates a better user experience.

Use Shorter Keywords

There’s been some controversy over the connections between content, key words and SEO, but there are a few important adaptations to keep in mind when building platforms for new devices. Understanding how and why users are accessing your site will help you adapt content to fit the needs of all users from all devices.

Mobile web searches tend to be more practical in focus, looking for specific locations, timetables or contact details. Furthermore, mobile searches often use shorter key words and mobile users will choose the auto-suggestion instead of typing out exactly what they mean.

In order to better accommodate mobile users, target shorter keywords that are likely to show up in mobile searches. Since mobile users are more likely to use autosuggest, you should also target the keywords Google recommends when you start search for your relevant keyword phrases.

Use Google Analytics Mobile to Track Data and Progress

Google Analytics has fast become a must-have tool for SEOs, and it’s every bit as useful when it comes to tracking mobile traffic. There are several ways you can use Google Analytics mobile to help your SEO efforts:

  • You can see the amount of traffic from various devices, including smart phones and tablets. If there’s a significant loss of traffic from a particular device, that can tip you off to a problem in your website design or content for that device.
  • You can see which keywords mobile searchers used to find your site—which should give you a better understanding of which keywords you need to target in your mobile keyword campaign.
  • You can see viewing statistics by location—or where your current mobile traffic is coming from. You can use this information to assess the success of local campaigns, as well as address locations that need more attention.

The Importance of Intuitive Design

No matter how great your content, no mobile web user will stick around if your website fails to respond quickly or is difficult to navigate. Mobile sites have a different set of design best-practices:

  • Site speed isn’t necessarily unique to mobile sites, but it’s incredibly important for both ranking and quality user experience. Users will quickly abandon your site if it’s slow. Put your site through a simple site speed tester to see how what your site’s load time is, and how that compares to your competitors.
  • Large, clickable objects are a must for mobile design, as mobile screens are much smaller than desktops. Don’t frustrate users by forcing them to click on tiny touch screen buttons.
  •  Simplicity should be the backbone of your mobile design; strive for a clutter free, minimalistic look for the most user-friendly experience.

Responsive Design Can Boost Mobile SEO Efforts

When formulating mobile search rankings, Google prioritizes responsive design. Responsive design works on a proportion-based grid with flexible images, which allows the site to adapt to the device it’s viewed on. This allows your site to be mobile, as it will adapt to mobile and desktop devices alike.

More importantly for SEO, because responsive design works across all devices, all site versions use the same set of URLs, which eliminates the problem many site owners have with duplicate content across desktop and mobile versions of their site. Responsive design can also help with mobile search rankings, as Google has said mobile optimized sites are ranked higher in mobile searches.

While mobile SEO might take some extra time and effort, it’s certainly worth it considering how mobile internet use is skyrocketing. Keep these tips in mind while you evaluate your mobile SEO strategy, and you’ll be off to a steady start.

Image Credit: Shutterstock 3Dmask

About Adria Saracino

Adria Saracino is the Head of Outreach at Distilled. When not connecting with interesting people on the web, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.