The mobile web has seen huge growth over the last few of years and now accounts for over half of all web traffic. So if you aren’t focusing on your mobile SEO yet, you will already be losing ground to your competition and losing out on potential sales. If you have got a mobile website, that’s great, you’re one step ahead. But is it driving sales to your business, and how is it performing in the mobile search index? Read on to some of the key ranking factors for mobile SEO for 2017.
Google have confirmed that site speed is now an important ranking factor, and to help you with this they even provide a PageSpeed Insights tool to test your speed. This tool provides you with a score and suggestions on how to make improvements. However, it’s not as simple as it looks. Making all of the required changes to get your site scoring “Good” can be an arduous task, but with patience, determination and the right development team, it can be done.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
To emphasise the importance of speed, Google is now recommending that you use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for your mobile web design. There is a debate raging within the web design industry about AMP and whether it is a good thing or a bad thing for web design in general, but like it or lump it, it is likely to be key ranking factor in the future and currently has its own AMP specific search results. With high profile companies like eBay and The Guardian adopting AMP it does appear that it’s here to stay.
So what is AMP?
In a nutshell AMP is a simplified, bare bone version of your site, specifically for the mobile web. It is designed to be lightweight and fast loading (almost immediate) which encourages click-throughs and engagement from the user. It’s still early days and whether you should take the plunge depends on your industry. For example, AMP has seen a large uptake by news outlets, but not so much by design agencies who are more reluctant to take on the “Less is more” approach.
Images are and always will be an integral part of web design, so keep on using them, even for your mobile web design! Images are aesthetically pleasing, help strengthen your branding, assist with call to actions and are more memorable than text alone.
The thing to bear in mind with your mobile SEO is to keep an eye on your image file sizes, and don’t use too many, as they will add to your overall page download time. As mentioned earlier using Google page Insights tool can be very useful particularly with image sizes. A good rule of thumb is to save JPGs at no more than 80% quality, and keep testing until Google gives you the thumbs up. Trial and error is a must.
Content (word length, keyword saturation, lists)
Mobile websites tend to have less text than their desktop counterparts, which makes sense as people are less likely to read larger amounts of text on their mobile. Website visits on mobile tend to be shorter affairs so your content should adhere to this. Mobile users are also less patient, so quick and to the point content is a must, leading them to key areas of your site without having to trawl through reams of text first. As mobile sites are less text-heavy than desktops, this means that your keyword density should also follow suit. There should be less keywords and key phrases per page, but as always with SEO stick as closely as you can to the recommended percentage density. Most importantly keep your language natural and do not over-stuff your content with keywords.
Other points worth considering for your content is that content with unordered lists tend to do well. This makes sense as listing key content sections is easier to read and understand than large paragraphs. Also, make sure your font-sizes, buttons and hotspots are large enough to read and click on easily, or you can be penalized for bad user experience.
Social Media Integration
Over 80% of social media activity is now spent on mobile devices, so it makes sense to incorporate this into your website. Encouraging mobile users to sign up to your social media pages via your website is a must and will help with brand interaction and promotion. To do this effectively you need to streamline your website and social media channels, so that they complement each other, but provide different experiences relevant to the medium. For example, many large brands use social media for their customer support channels very successfully. But there are many options available for social media use including competitions, product reviews and “how to” videos to name a few. The key is to provide something for your users that your website does not provide. By connecting with users on social media there are many business benefits, not least the ability to target them directly and reach out to their followers too.
Optimise for Local Search
If your organisation relies on local business, which many do, then optimizing your site for local search is a must. Statistics show that more and more people are using mobiles to search locally, and many of these are carried out with an intention to make a purchase. Pay heed to the following stats (courtesy of Hubspot.com):
- 50% of local mobile searches result in a store visit the same day
- 18% of local mobile searches result in a purchase the same day
- 78% of local mobile searches result in offline purchases
- 46% of all Google searches are local
- 86% of people use Google Maps to find the location of a business
So, optimising for local search is a necessity for any business providing services locally. Doing this correctly will boost your offline sales as well as online, and help your potential customers to easily find you and give you their hard-earned cash!