Did you know that 5 billion people own a smartphone? That’s 64% of the global population. Mobile devices have become so ingrained in daily life that many people use them instead of a computer – making a mobile-friendly website an absolute must.
The importance of mobile devices has been agreed upon for over a decade. But it wasn’t until this year, perhaps, that some brands came to understand the full influence of mobile – when Google made the switch to mobile-first indexing.
Now, most brands have woken up to the significance of mobile, adopting a responsive website that serves the same experience across any device. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that their sites are optimised for mobile from an SEO perspective.
In this guide, we’ll explore how to optimise your website for mobile, covering best-practice advice that can help you take advantage of Google’s mobile-first indexation.
Mobile devices account for over 50% of web traffic worldwide (51.51% according to the latest statistics). That means brands whose sites aren’t mobile-ready stand to miss out on a huge swathe of potential leads.
What’s more, on 1 July 2019, Google switched to mobile-first indexing. The search engine now ranks mobile-ready sites above those lacking such optimisation.
Here are the key reasons why you need to optimise your site for mobile users:
- Mobile-first indexing means sites will be penalised if they’re not mobile-ready.
- Over 50% of web traffic comes from mobile devices.
- Non-optimised sites may see a drop in organic search performance if they’re not optimised for mobile.
- Mobile users may go elsewhere for a better user experience.
Mobile-first is when a site is designed and optimised for mobile users rather than desktop users. Think of it as designing a site for the smallest screen first and working your way up.
As the volume of mobile web traffic has grown, more sites have switched to responsive web design that caters to users on all devices. This ensures that both desktop and mobile users share the same experience.
Several changes can be made to ensure a site is optimised for mobile-first indexation. Site design, site structure, page speed are the first considerations, while technical elements like structured data, script blocking, and dynamic serving also play a vital role in ensuring a site is ready for mobile.
If your site is optimised with important on-page ranking factors, there are a handful of additional elements to consider to ensure it delivers a good experience for mobile users and appeases mobile-first indexing.
Here are 7 things to consider when optimising your site for mobile.
1. Page Speed
Page speed matters more for mobile users than desktop users. Mobile network connectivity issues coupled with a demand for instant, at-your-fingertips information means that page speed plays a huge part in how well optimised a site is for mobile devices.
There are a number of things webmasters can do to minimise page loading times, including:
- Reduce the number of 301 redirects
- Optimise and compress images
- Remove excess code and compress
- Invest in better hosting
- Implement a content delivery network (CDN)
- Enable browser caching
- Track and test page speeds regularly
Read our guide on page speed for SEO to learn more about improving loading times.
2. Site Design
Design has a significant impact on how mobile-friendly a site is, so it directly impacts SEO and organic performance in search. Since the switch to mobile-first indexation, simplicity has underpinned what makes a great, responsive site – bolstering UX across all devices.
Below, we take a look at key site design considerations and improvements which can improve organic search performance:
3. Don’t Block Content and Elements
4. Optimise Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
As we explored in our guide on writing optimised meta descriptions, this type of on-page optimisation is still a crucial part of SEO, and has the potential to win your site more traffic. But with the arrival of mobile-first indexation, where does that leave the classic 160-character meta description and 60-character title tag?
Because screens are smaller and space is at a premium, this naturally means that a succinct approach is best when writing meta descriptions and title tags for a mobile-first tag. Be as concise as you can when writing titles and meta, whilst still ensuring that keywords you want a page to rank for are included and prioritised.
5. Site configuration
There are three types of configuration styles when setting up a mobile-first site: responsive, dynamic serving, and parallel URL. Each has its benefits and downsides, but whichever you choose, Google indexes your pages as being mobile-reading – provided the configuration has been set up correctly.
Below, we take a cursory look at the pros and cons of each of these mobile-first site setups.
6. Gain Traffic with Structured Data
Using Schema.org to edit and manage HTML is a powerful way to enhance your results in SERPs. It’s especially beneficial for mobile, allowing you to build rich snippets which take up more real estate on a small screen and are, therefore, more likely to be clicked.
For best practice advice on using Schema.org structured data, take a look at this how-to guide from Moz.
7. Optimise for Local Search
One of the principal reasons why Google made the switch to mobile-first indexing is that it recognised the power and relevance of local search. It’s natural to assume that a user on a mobile device may want to see results that are relevant to their local area – whether trying to find a restaurant, hair salon or fuel station near their location.
By ensuring that your site is optimised for local search, you stand to gain valuable traffic from users in your local area. This can, ultimately, generate more leads and conversions, and reduce the bounce rate of your site by serving users relevant content and information.
Need help setting up or maintaining a mobile-first website? The Banc team can help. Our CRO and SEO specialists can advise on the best solutions, driving traffic and leads on any device. For more information, visit the homepage or talk to us on 0345 459 0558.