In an age of smartphones and tablets, having a mobile-friendly website is simply not an option. This is especially true in South Africa where most people use their phones to access the internet because they don’t own a laptop. As a result, it’s even more important that your site follows mobile SEO best practices.
What is Mobile SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation refers to the techniques used to make it easy for search engines to find and catalogue your website. Everything from the words you use in your content to the links that direct people to your website help search engines understand what your site is about and whether users find it useful.
If you understand that, then you’ll know that Mobile SEO refers specifically to the things you can do to make it easier for mobile users to find you online. And while a lot of that has to do with how your site is designed, there are other factors you need to take into consideration.
Mobile Website or Responsive Design?
You do have the option of creating a separate, mobile-friendly page that is set up on a completely different URL. This version of your site may sit on a subdomain such as m.website.com.
Setting up a mobile site gives you the advantage of creating a site that is perfectly user-friendly for mobile users. The downside is that running two websites (one built for mobile and another for desktop) will result in double the maintenance.
The better option (and one preferred by Google) is Responsive Design. This is a site that automatically adapts text and images to display correctly on smaller screens. It is able to detect whether the user is browsing from a mobile device or a desktop, and adapt content accordingly.
If you have an existing site, it will need a complete redesign to make it mobile responsive. This can get pricey, but it will be worth it in the long run. The need for mobile-friendly sites is not going to disappear. You’ll spend less on maintenance which also makes it a more attractive option for budget-conscious businesses.
Tips for Mobile SEO
It doesn’t stop at choosing the design of your website. If you want to create a site that is truly mobile friendly, you need to look at some other elements:
Yes, people really do search for things differently when they use their mobiles as opposed to their laptop. Google has picked up on this and that’s why you’ll need to re-examine your keywords. One thing that stands out is that users tend to phrase their search as a question when using their phone.
When gathering a list of keywords or phrases, think of the types of questions your customers would ask. How would they type it out on a touchscreen keyboard with one hand? Try it yourself and you’ll soon understand the difference between regular keywords and phrases and mobile keywords.
Optimising your content for mobile displays
While responsive design does a good job of re-sizing and re-arrange text and images, it will perform even better if you create content with mobile in mind.
That involves being more concise with your copy, making sure that users can find the information they need quickly. You’ll also want to prioritise your content so that the most important details appear first. Breaking down copy into bite-size chunks that are easy to read on a smaller screen will go a long to impressing your mobile visitors.
Your content will have to work even harder to capture and hold the attention of viewers on mobile. And you’ll need to have an intuitive but unobtrusive navigation.
Keep the user in mind
Ultimately, you want to provide visitors with a good experience. Think about how people will navigate around your website on a mobile. Is the font large enough to read comfortably? Is your menu easy to find and navigate? Are your forms straightforward and easy to complete? Have you provided them with all the information they need to make a make a purchase or provide you with their contact details?
Designing a website with a mobile-first mindset will help you overcome issues before your site is available to the general public. It takes some planning and effort, but the result will be a website that satisfies a variety of users. If you’re setting up a brand new website, tell your developer that you want a mobile-responsive design.
You want your website to be as engaging and persuasive as possible. Whether your customers find you on their laptop or smartphone, make sure their experience is pleasant and hassle-free.