Mobile Optimization — SEO Best Practices

By Makenzie Pelletier, Organic Search and Conversion Team
TOPICSFeatured, Mobile, SEO

In an era dominated by mobile devices, optimizing your website for them is everything. With this mobile SEO guide, we’ll cover our best practices for optimizing mobile websites and a summary of this field itself. First, let’s clarify why mobile optimization is necessary and what aspects of web design go into making mobile responsive websites.

Why is Mobile Optimization Important for SEO?

When it comes to ranking in Google, mobile optimization is especially important for your website because in 2018, Google moved to mobile-first indexing. This means that when Google crawls your website, it will always crawl the mobile version before the desktop version. If your webpages are not optimized or worse, not mobile-friendly, this could have a negative effect on your overall ranking in the SERP (search engine results page). Visit our blog to learn more about the mobile-first update from Google.

Why is Mobile Optimization Important for User Experience?

According to a study on Statista, about 52% of all internet traffic is now coming from smart phones. As the amount of traffic coming from mobile users is ever-growing, it’s important that web designers are taking this into account when creating mobile websites. In order to keep a user on your website, it’s not just important but necessary to have a mobile-friendly experience.

What’s the Difference Between Responsive Web Design and Mobile-First Web Design?

Responsive web design is a method of web development that allows web pages to render to fit on a variety of screen sizes and devices. This is done using CSS to determine which sections should be rendered where.

Mobile-first web design is a web development method that follows in the footsteps of Google, meaning the website design considers the mobile functionality first. For this method, web developers start designing for the smallest screen first and then work their way up to larger screens like tablets and desktops. When it comes to website design, this is your best bet as it will make for a seamless website experience.

But what if it’s too late to create a website using mobile-first design? That’s when mobile optimization comes in! Use the helpful tips below as a checklist to improve your overall user experience and mobile friendliness.

Mobile Optimization: SEO Best Practices

Page Speed

Page speed can be the main factor in determining whether a user stays on your website. If a page takes too long to load, users are more likely to leave the page without interacting with your website at all. A study by Section determined that longer load times have a direct correlation with higher bounce rates. There are a few common fixes that Google recommends:

  • Properly size images
    • You can improve your page speed by creating various versions and sizes of each image and using CSS or HTML to specify which version to use.
  • Defer offscreen images
    • These are the images that appear below the fold. Because these images cannot initially be seen by the user, deferring their load time will help decrease the load time for your website.
  • Serve images in next-gen formats like .JPEG 2000, JPEG XR and WebP
    • These image formats maintain their quality even when compressed.
  • Eliminate render-blocking resources
    • Non-critical resources like scripts, HTML imports and stylesheets can be deferred so that they do not slow down your load time.

Navigation

When it comes to the navigation on your mobile website, it’s important to include the essentials. Search bars, cart buttons and hamburger buttons have become second nature to users and are expected to be easily accessible. We recommend placing these items on your top navigation so that users can browse your website with ease.

Search Bar/Button:

 

 

 

Cart Button:

 

 

 

Hamburger Button:

Text Optimization

Text that appears to be short on desktop can be long and bothersome when viewed on mobile. To counter this, it’s recommended to only show the most important information and headlines to mobile users so that other aspects of the website are not pushed far below the fold. If needed, you can add a Read More button and collapse text. Google will not penalize users on mobile for this and will still crawl the full text.

Image Optimization

When websites are designed responsively, images that look great on desktop can look too big or too small on mobile. This can have a negative impact on user experience if people have to pinch or zoom out on images to interact with your website. Avoid this by inspecting your website for any of these instances and correct any image sizing issues you find.

Managing Overlays and Pop-Ups

Not to repeat ourselves, but overlays and pop-ups that are small on desktop could be difficult for mobile users to navigate around. Prevent this by limiting use of overlays and pop-ups on mobile, as these can appear bigger and can even lead users away from your main website. If you need an overlay or pop-up on mobile, be sure to put a large exit button on the top right so users can easily close out of it.

Touch Elements

Make sure that touch elements are spaced properly and large enough to click on easily. Touch elements that are too small or too close together can make it difficult for users to interact with your website effectively and of course, this means they’ll leave for a more user-friendly website.

Unplayable Content

Avoid using content that can’t be played on the mobile version of your website. For example, most mobile phones don’t support Flash Player and having elements that include this can take a toll on user experience.

The moral of the story? Optimizing for mobile can have a great impact on your website from a ranking standpoint and user standpoint. Following our tips above and keeping your user experience in mind will help you to have a successful and rewarding website. If you’re incorporating this into your holistic SEO marketing strategy, request our free e-commerce analysis and learn the fastest way to grow your business online.