Optimize your pages for mobile devices according to the 6 pillars of SEO for mobile – WAU
SEO for mobile, or just Mobile SEO, gathers the best practices, strategies, configurations, methodologies and tools used by developers, webmasters and Marketing professionals to guarantee indexing and improve the ranking of websites in searches performed on mobile devices. Learn how to use it!
The concern of SEO professionals with the performance and navigation of websites on mobile devices has always existed. But it was in 2019, when Google started to prioritize mobile interfaces in its indexing (Google Mobile First Index), that these improvements became a rule in the market.
Day after day, desktops are more restricted to student and professional tasks, while smartphones gain more and more space in the routine of citizens.
In London, cell phones are the main form of internet access since 2017, according to CETIC.Br, and already add up to more than 230 million handsets in use (FGV-SP) – a number higher than the country’s total inhabitants!
As you can see, Mobile SEO is definitely a prerequisite to have results on the web, no matter the nature or size of your enterprise, and in this article we bring you all the information you need to know about this subject. Look at that!
Continue with us to know everything about this area of Digital Marketing and learn how to get your website ready for the new phase of search. Good reading!
What is Mobile SEO?
Contrary to what many people think, having a responsive website is not enough, although this is also one of the factors analyzed in a Mobile Marketing strategy.
The term “responsiveness” refers only to the automatic adaptation of a website’s layout in different screen formats. However, there are several other criteria that need to be taken into account in mobile navigation, such as:
- velocity: loading time for content and page elements;
- page size: data consumption in limited internet plans;
- fidelity: similarity to the desktop version in terms of features and content;
- UX (User Experience): visualization, navigation, agility and others;
- usage pattern: frequent accesses, but in short periods of time.
These and several other factors are forcing professionals and companies to rethink the processes of production and availability of content on the internet, and in this search for the optimization of codes and pages, Google acts, once again, as the great leader and diffuser of changes.
Why is mobile SEO important?
Although the number of active smartphones has grown significantly in recent years, the expectation is that this figure will gradually approach the number of individuals in the country and start to follow its demographic growth.
There is no longer a need for a person to have more than one device (one personal and another for work, for example), as the current models already allow the use of two or three lines and also provide functions that help the user to organize the their different routines.
The fact is that the smartphone has become an essential part of people’s daily lives, as well as the main window of opportunity for companies to advertise and, mainly, build a relationship with their audience.
This social panorama has led many companies to adapt their strategies to serve this new consumer who is always with the phone in his hands.
The adoption of these measures, however, only gained wide repercussion when Google, the main centralizer of online content today, adopted changes in its indexing and ranking systems.
Among the various updates announced, there are two elements whose understanding is mandatory for anyone who intends to provide improvements to their website: o Mobile Friendly it’s the Mobile First Index. Look at that!
Google Mobile Friendly
Often confused with the concept of responsiveness, Mobile Friendly goes far beyond a mere layout adjustment. The “mobile friendly” sites are those that offer an exclusive version for these devices. This kind of “secondary layout” must be detected by the browsers and reproduced automatically.
Although the elements of the page are the same in both versions, the structure of the mobile site – codes, pixels, plugins etc. – is specifically developed to improve navigation on smartphones and tablets.
Sites can also use subdomains for this type of version – usually indicated by an “m” (m.somesite.com).
Mobile Friendly started to be adopted as a ranking criterion by Google in 2015, and since then, its absence implies a loss of priority in SERP in searches carried out from mobile devices. Among the factors analyzed by the search engine, the most relevant are:
- ease of navigation: from accessing directories and pages to displaying pop-up windows and scaling ads, for example;
- loading speed: very heavy sites are slow and consume excess data, which makes them less attractive;
- touch control: access to all buttons and functions through touchscreen technology;
- responsiveness: uniform and automatic adaptation to different types of screens, considering that mobile devices can present significant variations in this sense.
Mobile First Index
In 2019, Google took a step further in improving SEO for mobile, officially incorporating the Mobile First Index to the indexing of its search engine sites.
Basically, this means that the process of adding new addresses to the search engine will give priority to mobile versions, whether in the results for mobile devices or in desktop searches.
According to the guidelines clarified by the company, however, the rule – for now – will apply only to new indexed sites from July 1, 2019 onwards.
For addresses that were already present in searches before that date, monitoring will continue to be done based on the old parameters.
What it seems is that the great king of searches is giving developers a little time to adapt their sites, so it is highly recommended to make these changes as soon as possible.
In practical terms, the Mobile First Index requires that the two versions of the sites, desktop and mobile, feature:
- identical contents: to reduce the size of the mobile version, many sites remove data and functions from the pages, but now this practice should be avoided;
- structured data: each version must present a data structure specific to its function (essential to avoid flaws in the indexing of mobile pages);
- equivalent metadata: titles and meta descriptions must be equivalent in both versions to ensure that both are from the same address.
For sites that use different URLs for their versions, technical adjustments may be necessary, such as updates on Hreflang (tag indicating that a site has more than one version) and the expanding server capacity (which will need to deal with increasing the crawl rate).
Most settings, however, are manageable through Search Console.
How to optimize your website or blog for Mobile SEO?
Below are the main recommendations for achieving good results in searches on mobile devices according to the new Google criteria!
1. Start with the basics: do a basic technical inspection
Before you start making adjustments to pages and codes, it is important to perform a basic check on the files, software and services used on your website. These are the pillars of your SEO strategy and, therefore, cannot be neglected.
Below you can see a checklist with the main factors capable of directly influencing the speed, performance, stability and even the ranking of your site in searches:
- hosting service: make sure that the supplier has a good reputation in the market and the contracted plan meets all the needs of your website;
- content manager: give preference to platforms or robust software that are already consolidated in the market, such as WordPress;
- SSL certificate: Google understands that HTTPS addresses are used on secure mobile sites and, therefore, gives them priority in the search ranking;
- image optimization: remove non-essential files, compress images, configure descriptions and give preference to lighter file formats;
- mobile tags: ensure the insertion of special HTML tags such as “viewport” (asks the browser to adjust the screen for the mobile version) and “Hreflang” (informs that the website has different versions).
2. Performance: Optimize your website to ensure the highest possible speed
Speed is the critical factor in mobile navigation, after all, we need to ensure a good browsing experience on naturally unstable connections and with limited services. The solution, however, remains the same: bet on the essentials!
All the measures listed in the previous topic have a direct impact on the speed with which your website loads your information, but there are other procedures that can help improve your results in this regard.
First of all, however, it’s important to check your website’s performance using test platforms like Google PageSpeed Insights.
The two main factors analyzed by the tool are the FCP and the FID:
- FCP (First Content Display): time needed for the first page element to be displayed on the screen;
- FID (Input Latency): the delay between the user’s first interaction with any element of the page and the browser response.
In the first case, we need to understand that the appearance of a single element on the screen is enough for the user to have confirmation that the page is being loaded. So it’s interesting use themes (or build layouts) that “deliver” the content of the page in separate blocks.
When a website only displays a white screen or a loading icon so that all parts of its interface are loaded together afterwards, a mere delay in exchanging data can lead people to understand the situation as a site error or failure, encouraging her to leave the place.
In the second situation, we are faced with a similar consequence when the response time of the pages is very long. The speed with which your site reacts is essential for it to demonstrate agility and responsiveness to the user.
The good news is that in addition to evaluating your site, PageSpeed also displays specific tips to make your pages faster. Look!
3. UX (User Experience): focus on the user experience
This is the most important criterion among all SEO practices for mobile, as it is in this stage that we deal directly with interaction between users and the site.
When we think about navigation on smartphones and tablets, the presentation of a pleasant, agile and intuitive experience is just as important as on desktops, but there are some peculiarities that need to be considered when using these devices.
Unlike cabinets and laptops, which are often used for many hours straight in study or work activities, mobile devices are accessed several times throughout the day, but in short or medium time intervals, often to meet specific needs such as answering a question, answering a message or accessing social networks.
This behavior stimulates the anxiety of users who want to find a quick solution for what they need in each of these moments, be it a post with detailed information, or a short video tutorial (mobile videos).
In addition to the speed, which we discussed in the previous topic, some other suggestions in User Experience should be taken into account when building your website.
Dry the options and data displayed to the user on the pages as much as possible, leaving only what is necessary.
Choose to use smart menus to hide information and settings that are only needed in specific situations and try to display only what your user needs on each page or section, always maintaining the appropriate space between the clickable elements.
The digital interfaces have abandoned scheumorfismo, whose emphasis was on the use of 3D resources to create realistic surfaces and objects.
The trend is the flat design, a style that adopts simple shapes and solid colors to ensure the greatest possible clarity and harmony in the interfaces.
Check the number of steps necessary for your user to reach the contents and functions of your website and try to shorten this journey to the maximum.
People want to find what they’re looking for quickly, so avoid intermediate pages between the contents and reduce the need for typing.
This item is part of the concept of responsiveness: your website should automatically adapt the font size for the device on which it is being displayed.
However, it is possible to go further using outstanding features, such as larger sections, bold or special backgrounds, to make the user experience even more enjoyable and intuitive.
4. Local SEO: Insert your site in local searches
Another factor that must be considered in the behavior of mobile users is the search for local services. Google is the catalog of today and it is there that people look for companies and professionals of all kinds.
According to the official Think With Google portal, most surveys conducted on smartphones are aimed at professionals and establishments in the region.
In addition, a study promoted by CNDL (National Confederation of Shopkeepers) and SPC Brasil (Credit Protection Service) revealed that 97% of Brazilians look for information on the internet before shopping in physical stores.
The biggest advantage of this type of disclosure is that local results take priority in the search ranking and to be listed, simply register for free on the Google My Business platform. In your profile you can insert photos, contact details, your website URL and much more!
5. Voice searches: prepare your content for all types of searches
Voice searches have been a reality for many years, but only recently, with the improvement and popularization of the famous virtual assistants (Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant), that we are witnessing a real change in behavior in search experiences.
Another important point of this new SEO trend is that the voice features are not restricted to smartphones. They already equip smartTVs, home appliances and the artificial intelligence devices themselves made available by major technology companies.
It is worth mentioning that if your content gets a featured snippet (zero position on Google), it can be read aloud by virtual robots!
The point is that voice searches have some peculiarities:
- are generally interrogative: questions such as “what is”, “what does it mean”, “how to do” etc;
- usually use keywords long tail: for suggesting a dialogue, people tend to use more specific terms;
- used for immediate solutions: the user who does a voice search expects a quick and practical solution to their doubts;
- refer to everyday issues: the service is often used to solve routine (less complex) problems.
Therefore, when researching new keywords for the production of your content, pay special attention to terms that are inserted in interrogative phrases and relate to doubts in your daily life persona.
There are some specific tools for this work, such as AnswerThePublic.com, a portal that allows you to discover the most searched questions on Google about a certain area.
However, traditional Digital Marketing planning platforms, such as Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush, remain your best options.
6. Use AMP technology
AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, or accelerated pages for mobile devices.
It is an open source project (open source) promoted by major content publishers and technology companies (including Google itself) that aims to improve the performance of internet sites – which, in general, still leaves much to be desired.
AMP pages have three important settings:
- HTML AMP: that it is nothing more than optimized HTML code with restrictions and extensions that improve its overall performance;
- AMP JS: which keeps the rendering of the page elements asynchronous so that the loading of any item does not hinder or block the display of another;
- Google AMP Cache: an optional function that requests the storage of AMP HTML pages in Google’s own cache, speeding up the display of content from access and search results.
In practice, when a user clicks on a search result with a link to a page with the AMP configured, they are directed to the simplified (faster) version of the page – depending on their browser, an option with a link to the display original content is displayed at the top of the site.
The easiest way to provide this configuration is to use the AMP for WP plugin – Accelerated Mobile Pages (exclusive to WordPress).
With it, it is possible to adjust various elements of the simplified version of your pages that, when active, can also be accessed by inserting “/ Amp” at the end of your URLs (https://algumsite.com/algum-post/amp).
You can do this at the address on this page to check the result of this feature on our blog (if you got here through Google and are using your smartphone, it is likely that it is already active)!
All of the mobile SEO techniques, tools and settings we’ve discussed here are important to the outcome of your Content Marketing strategy, but don’t forget that Google’s main purpose is to bring quality information to its users, therefore, it is essential that the content of your site is incredible!
Take advantage of the fact that you have come this far and check out our Local SEO Guide now, an in-depth material about this SEO trend!