It’s a brand new year, which means a chance to start fresh with your digital marketing campaign. We’ve seen a lot of changes in 2013, and if you’re looking to shift your focus, it’s time to zero in on mobile SEO.
Mobile SEO has been growing so quickly that the conflicting data and varying best practices make getting your feet wet, seem a bit daunting. Before you take the plunge into the deep end, here are a few tips that will help your mobile SEO campaign get off the ground in the right way.
1. Know Your Mobile Audience
Before you build or optimize your mobile site, you want to know how your audience is using it. You should understand both how users are finding your site through search and how they are navigating your site once they’ve found it.
A quick look into Google Analytics can answer these questions. Creating an advanced segment for mobile organic traffic can show you:
Volume of mobile traffic
Keywords from mobile search
- Highest organic mobile traffic pages
Apply this segment and you can gather traffic data to get an idea of how many people are accessing your site on mobile devices. By going to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages, you can see which pages are highest in mobile organic traffic.
Another useful data point in understanding your mobile audience and optimizing your site for those users, is knowing any and all mobile and tablet devices that are used on your site. This is especially important when it comes to designing your mobile site.
Google announced it will start penalizing sites that serve desktop pages to mobile searches in their effort to promote user experience. If you want to take your mobile design a step further, explore the ever-rising option of responsive design.
3. Be Responsive
If you have a separate mobile site, it isn’t an issue for SEO—as long as you are following the most recent smartphone ranking changes. But as you’ve probably heard, the SEO and development community is moving quickly toward responsive design with the introduction of more devices and operating systems.
What is responsive design exactly? Responsive sites automatically adapt to the device being used based on screen (or pixel) size. This benefits the Google goal of usability, especially across mobile devices. This also helps the weary SEO manager, because of the opportunities to increase optimization and decrease maintenance.
While a separate mobile site is not hurting anyone at the moment, jumping on the responsive bandwagon is a smart move if you’re just diving into mobile:
“Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration.” –Google itself
4. Get Local
If you choose to go responsive, the content on your site will appear the same on a mobile device and be crawled the same by search engines. This is especially true with regard to local search. If you need proof that local is important for mobile SEO, check out a few recent statistics:
- 1 in 3 mobile queries are local
- After looking up local business on a smartphone, 61 percent of users called a business and 59 percent actually visited a business
- 79 percent of smartphone users use their smartphones to help with shopping
- 71 percent of smartphone users that see a TV, press or online ad, do a mobile search for more information
- 76 percent of mobile consumers use their devices to search for a business’s location or operating hours
A good start for capturing that mobile traffic is by incorporating a local strategy into your content marketing plan. This is especially important for retail stores—targeting queries like “discounts + city” or specific products in your store’s geographic area.
5. Images Trump Text
As you’re tinkering with your content strategy to optimize for mobile and local traffic, keep in mind the importance of user experience. Almost 80% of smartphone owners use their phone to shop—what are the odds they want their search results to be full of long-form content pages?
With mobile, images and videos are dynamic and eye-catching—additionally, a full screen of text on a smaller screen is uninteresting to the user on the go, searching for the perfect pair of boots or the nearest auto dealer with a new model in stock.
6. Incorporate Mobile into Your Email Campaign
Once your design and content are fully optimized for your mobile site, start expanding your reach with other campaigns. The percentage of email opened on mobile devices reached 48% in October of 2013, continuing to climb toward 50% in 2014. If you already have an established email marketing campaign, build in your mobile (or responsive!) site with promotions, special offers, or just unique content pieces to make driving traffic, simple.
If both your emails and your websites are user-friendly, you'll be able to effectively connect with your users across multiple channels and capture the growing mobile audience.
6.5. Listen to Google
It’s a good rule of thumb when optimizing for either desktop or mobile to follow Google’s most recent statements of fact. In regard to mobile, the information is trickling in slowly, but you can follow these steps to start your mobile SEO right in 2014.
Interested in learning more about how mobile can improve your customers' experiences with your business? Check out this free webinar replay, and learn all about what a responsive website is, the differences between an adaptive website and a responsive website, and most importantly, how your current mobile website could be costing you money!
All the best,
Kelly Ayres is an SEO Team Manager at Stream Companies, a full-service Philadelphia area advertising agency.