We all know just how important smartphones have become in the last decade. While traditional SEO has been around for a while, you can no longer ignore the importance of mobile SEO. Even though businesses understand the importance of mobile SEO they still seem to be making mistakes. Not even little mistakes that slightly impact a user, businesses are making huge mistakes that are costing them significant chunks of traffic and potential sales. And they probably don’t even realise they are making such big mistakes!
Even recognised brands are making mistakes and not optimising for mobile. Morover, some of SEO companies ignore this issue (which shouldn't be ignored).
I recently was on a well-known travel tour website on my mobile phone and it was so clear to see that they weren’t optimised for mobile. It became very frustrating to navigate and scroll through to find what I was looking for. This meant I had to wait until I was home so I could use my computer (it was a lot easier!). This is the type of situation you want to avoid. You want to give your users the best experience possible. It is tough for businesses these days, I mean everything could go perfect for the user and you get no praise, but if one little thing goes wrong, the user will complain. I know I did – not only just to you, the reader but I also sent negative feedback after a popup on the website prompted me to leave feedback!
It is surprising to see so many businesses making such bad mobile SEO mistakes. I mean it is 2017; the mobile phone is not a new and unknown phenomenon.
Businesses should start caring more about mobile and the way their website looks not only just on a computer.
This is why I have put together a list of some of the biggest mobile SEO mistakes. Some of them you might not have even realised you were making. It is hoped that you will go through the list below and ensure you are not making any of these mistakes. If you are making these mistakes then you should aim to rectify the situation as soon as possible.
Mobile pages take too long to download
We are all getting a lot more impatient. This is especially the case for mobile users. Not only is a slow loading website annoying to users but this also impacts your ranking. Google doesn’t like slow loading website, this is why it is important to find out whether your website is taking too long to download. Once you have established the download speed you can then determine whether this is something you must fix, usually mobile websites that take longer than a second to load are deemed as too slow and certainly frustrates your users and could result in a drop in your ranking.
If you are wondering how you were actually going to test the speed of your website, well you are in luck because Google has a tool for you to check and test the speed! This tool helps you to analyse your website performance and it can also assist in finding new ways to ensure your website is faster and becomes more mobile friendly. As you can see in the screenshot below, Google analysed its own URL and found that the speed was 99/100 and user experience as 100/100. The analysis also allowed for possible areas to consider fixing.
This tool also gives you the option to run another test to see how mobile friendly your website is. The tool quickly shows you whether your website is mobile friendly. This is a good place to start when evaluating your website. It is important to note that even if this analysis shows that your website is mobile friendly, there are possibly still more things that you can change to make your website better. As seen in the screenshot below, SEO Shark’s website is mobile friendly:
Even though this tool is beneficial (and free), it doesn’t report on the speed of your page in seconds. If you want to find out what the speed of your website is in terms of actual time it takes to load, then Pingdom Speed Tool is probably the best tool to use.
It is crucial that you test your mobile website. Without testing, it is almost certain that your users will experience some sort of difficulty. Testing your website is like editing your essay before you hand it in for grading. Like a first draft of an essay, your website will not be perfect from the get-go. There are always going to be things that you missed or changes that need to be made to make it better. If you don’t go through and test your website these things will be missed.
Even though it seems like testing a website will take a lot of time and unnecessary effort, it is still important because testing can determine the success or failure when it comes to the launch of a mobile website.
There are a few important things to think of when testing your site:
- Is it easy to navigate to another page without forcing users to hit back?
- Is it easy for the user to convert?
- Are the forms operational i.e. is the phone number properly linked so when the user clicks on it the call is made?
As you have probably been heavily involved in the design process of your website, it is important to look and test the website not as someone who knows all the ins and outs, but as someone who has just clicked onto your website and is seeing it for the first time. By not assuming anything and following the website naturally you will be able to pick up any problems easier.
When browsing your own website you should look for some of these common issues:
- Did you get stuck anywhere?
- Did you find any place where the website didn’t work as expected?
- Is there anything you could do to make the website more mobile friendly?
Once you have done a run through of your website from an outsiders perspective and asked yourself all the above questions you will have greater assurance that your website is easy for users to navigate and the likelihood that a problem on your will arise website is reduced.
Mobile searchers are not the same as desktop searchers
This is one of the mistakes I see the most, and it’s not just with the types of searchers, but with everything. Businesses tend to group mobile and desktop users into to same category including everything from analysis to the type of searchers they are. Well, mobile and desktop are not the same so why would you categorise them in same way? This is especially the case for mobile search queries and desktop search queries.
There are certainly a lot of differences when it comes to these two groups. Therefore you cannot use the same tactics for desktop searchers as you would for mobile searchers! You will find that these different types of searchers actually have quite varying needs.
So what can you do to ensure you are meeting the needs of your mobile searchers? It is two-fold. First you will need to separate your keyword research because there is actually a significant amount of difference in the types of phases mobile users are typing into search engines, compared to desktop users. Secondly, you will need to consider the mobile in the on page optimisation of your website.
1. Keyword research – This is a very important part of your research. Here you will need to look at the types of searches from mobile devices separately from that of desktop searchers. This will give you a greater understanding of how the search habits are different. Once you properly understand the difference, this allows for better and easier optimisation of your content.
2. On page optimisation – From the point above you were able to determine the patterns of keywords for your mobile website. Then these patterns need to be put in place for the proper optimisation of your website. For example, if you found that a particular page holds a higher level of importance to mobile users (i.e. the address and contact information of your business) then you would need to ensure this page has a title and meta description that fits and makes sense to a mobile user, remembering that there is less space in search engine results listing on mobiles then that of desktops.
Visual changes on content
It is clear that a desktop is not the same size as a mobile device. This means that if you do not make the necessary changes from desktop to mobile, it can become very difficult for users to read what is on your website or difficult to navigate. This severely impacts user experience which Google takes a note of and can dramatically affect your ranking.
Your content must be displayed in a different way to cater for the change in the size of the screen users are reading on. There are four main changes that you should make to your content in order to keep positive user experience; large font, headline font not outrageously big, white spaces and images/ headings.
1. Large font – it is important for you to use a large font as the mobile screen is smaller therefore making it harder for users to read a smaller font. If your users have to zoom in to read your content then there is a problem. As well has having a bigger font, you should also ensure that the font style is easy to read. Go for a font that offers clear block letters instead of a font that is cursive and difficult to read.
2. Headline size – even though I said in the above point to ensure the font is big, it is important to not go too overboard, especially with your headline. The headline is one of the most important things on the page and if the font is so big that the user can’t easily read all of it, then that are likely to become frustrated and end up leaving. Your headline shouldn’t be so big that users have to scroll to get to read the actual content.
3. White spaces – it is important not to overload your users with too much content or other things happening on the page. You will need to break up the content with white spaces. Too much busyness is likely to have an adverse effect on reader’s eyes, the white space acts as a place where user’s eyes aren’t strained. One of the easiest ways to get more white spaces is to only write short paragraphs.
4. Images and headings – along with white spaces you can also use more images and headings to break up the content and give users eyes a rest. Mobile users also tend to skim and skip content a lot more than desktop users so it is important to put in more headings or sub-headings so that users are able to quickly find the information they are looking for. Images also assist is expressing what you are writing about and it gives the reader something nicer to look at then just a block of text.
If you are looking to get the process started with mobile SEO then the best option is to use the Google mobile friendly tools. These tools will help you quickly determine if and where there are issues with your website. As well as this, the tool will provide some guidance on how to resolve the issues. These tools are free and provide most of the analysis you would need. However, it is important to remember that there are always more you can do to improve your mobile SEO.
You should remember to test your website, especially as soon as it is launched. Testing can also be beneficial a bit after the launch to check if things are still running as smoothly as possible. You also need to be treating desktop and mobile users differently, especially when it comes to keyword research, you will find that their needs and patterns are quite different. As well as this, your content needs to be optimised for mobile. This means making sure the font is easy to read and you are including headings, white spaces and images.
If you find you are making any of the above mistakes for your mobile SEO it is important that you change the situation as soon as possible because it could be effecting user experience which will have significant negative impact on your ranking. If you are unable to optimise your website by yourself, you should get in touch with one of SEO consultants who should be able to fix it.
Sarah is the head of guest posts outreach and an SEO expert. Her interests are search engine optimisation, social media and brand management.