There are very few things that we can state definitively when it comes to ranking in Search. This doesn’t mean we are uninformed. Google announced 200 ranking factors and continues to provide guidance on how to incorporate SEO best practices to rank in search. Of course, since everyone has access to the same information, this allows an equal opportunity for implementation.
Sorting through the 200 ranking factors to determine the ones that apply to mobile search is important for several reasons. One study reveals that close to 60% of all internet access is through smartphones. (G2) As smartphones become more accessible, consumer habits are changing. Additionally, Google, the most popular search engine, is a mobile-first index. This means that the mobile version of your website is filed first and considered when Google is ranking content for search.
Businesses should develop a diverse mobile optimization strategy to help give themselves an edge over their competitors.
Table of Contents
What is Mobile Optimization?
Mobile Optimization is the process of developing a website that is optimized for mobile devices and ensuring an excellent experience for visitors who access your site on mobile.
Mobile SEO includes:
- Website Design
- Page Speed
- Site Structure
- Local SEO
Just because everyone has the same information doesn’t mean they will all use the information the same way. In 2015, TechCrunch found that 44% of Fortune 500 websites were not using responsive web design and were not mobile-friendly even though Google announced they would have more mobile-friendly websites in search results. Fortune 500 companies aren’t the only ones ignoring Google’s instructions.
Consider this timeline of Google’s move to a mobile-first index:
2012: Google begins dominating the mobile search market. Currently, in 2019 they have 95% of the market.
2015: February 26 – Google announces they will have “More mobile-friendly websites in search results.” And “More relevant app content in search results.”
2015: April – Google starts rewarding websites with responsive design.
2016: Google announces a shift to the mobile-first index and explains how to set up a mobile-friendly website.
2017: Google announces the mobile-first index shift is complete and reminds users they encourage implementing responsive design.
2019: Under the Be Mobile-Friendly section Google’s Developer Site it features three ways to set up a mobile-friendly website. Notice there is a sentence that Google bolded:
Despite Google stating in 2015, 2016, and 2017 in official announcements that they recommend responsive design, one study found that 91 percent of small businesses still don’t have a responsive, mobile-optimized website. (BP Studios)
This means that by choosing a responsive design, your website may have a significant advantage in ranking above your competition by giving an optimal viewing experience for users.
What is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive website design is a technique and design element used in web development to make sure that a website looks and works well on all desktop devices and mobile devices, regardless of screen size. This is important because it ensures a good user experience no matter how they’re accessing your site, and it also helps to improve your search engine rank.
Responsive web design layouts are created using a fluid grid layout. This means that the size of each element on the page is proportional to the size of the screen it is being viewed on and device orientation.
To create responsive web design, web designers use a combination of flexible layouts, flexible images, and CSS styles. Media queries are a way of targeting different styles to different devices so that the same HTML code can be used on all devices but the CSS is different depending on the screen size.
Check to see if your website is mobile-friendly using one of these tools:
Experts agree that your website pages need a loading speed of three seconds or less in order to keep your customer’s attention and create a positive user experience. Google holds eCommerce websites to a higher standard stating pages should have a load time of two seconds. (HubSpot)
There are a lot of factors that go into page speed. Designer and WordPress Developer Mike Oliver points out that small businesses need to consider their WordPress theme and web host in addition to how they design their website.
Check your website page speed using one of these tools:
Your site structure is the organization of your website. Having a well-organized site will help your users find what they are looking for faster when searching your website, and it will help web crawlers better understand the context of your website’s content and purpose.
In addition to making sure you take the time to map out your website’s menu and page flow, adding structured data to your website can increase your online visibility.
According to HubSpot, adding structured data can increase your online visibility with potential customers and increase your click-through rate by up to 30%.
When webmasters adhere to structured data standards, search engines like Google and Bing reward their websites and organizations by featuring their content in a variety of SERP features, featured snippets, and knowledge panels, which are also known as knowledge graph cards.
With so many benefits, you may assume that adding structured data to a website should be something all marketing agencies offer clients as standard practice. However, in 2017, Schema.org reported that only 1% of websites were implementing structured data.
This is another key action that you can take to optimize your website to rank in mobile search and help your website stand out. At SMA Marketing, we use Schema.org, Google Tag Manager, and JSON-LD.
You can learn more about why and how we use those tools by reading these blog articles:
Ranking in local search is becoming more challenging these days as search habits shift to include voice search and requests for businesses with location limits such as “plumber near me” increase.
Voice search is convenient for hands-free driving or multi-tasking, but it reduces a searcher’s options from seeing 8-10 options on a screen to hearing 3 or fewer business names listed unless they request more options.
When someone searches using “near me” the results will vary depending on their location. This also narrows a company’s ability to connect with a potential client significantly. By reducing the search criteria to company location and industry, it becomes essential that businesses optimize their website, business listings, and social media pages to increase the chances of earning one of the top spots in search.
While voice search is something to be aware of, local companies need to have a varied SEO strategy to increase their search rankings for potential customers searching on mobile and desktop using an internet browser. Expanding an online digital reach includes adding citations, backlinks, and blog posts with optimized keywords.
Read more about all the aspects of a full Local SEO marketing strategy in our blog article NAP, Citations, and Local SEO.
At SMA Marketing, we understand that today’s marketing requires companies to connect with potential and current customers on their preferred platforms. Having a consistent message across all channels is just as important as customers having a great experience, wherever they access your website. For small businesses, increasing your rank on mobile includes optimizing your website for Local SEO. Download our checklist to see how your strategy measures up.