Mobile SEO: Knowing the Basics

Written by: Jason Bayless | February 15, 2016

Most business owners with some SEO knowledge may consider mobile SEO to be a completely separate part of the industry. Not only that, but they may think that there are special techniques exclusive to mobile devices that can improve results for those browsing on their devices. The truth is that the differences between a mobile and a web search result are far and few between.

As such, mobile SEO is mostly about how the site functions. A website looks different on a small screen, but it doesn’t change whether or not the page is relevant to what you’re searching. If you can’t read it, though, it’s a bad result. Here are some of the basics of mobile SEO to keep in mind:

Speed is critical
A mobile website should not take longer than one second to load on a device. Google also specifically recommends that a page’s primary content be visible on the screen without having to scroll; this is an area that is now known as “above the fold,” referring to immediately displayed content.

Content and keywords remain important
After functionality, mobile SEO depends on how easily someone can search for something as well as how engaging the content of the mobile site is. To begin, choose shorter keywords for your campaigns; after all, users on mobile devices are more likely to use shorthand compared to those on a desktop.

In terms of content, search engine pages on mobile sites still rely on keyword use. You’ll want digestible, succinct content that uses your keyword a few times with a few variations. The content should also be regularly updated as well as compelling to read on a regular basis.

Separate desktop and mobile URLs
If you don’t have a content management system (CMS), you’ll have to go to work yourself optimizing the mobile site. One way this can be done is by using different URLs for the desktop and mobile versions of the page. This lets you package the content as needed for the specific user; in fact, this is the method that Google and Bing both prefer.

Use good SEO practices
Mobile SEO still benefits from the same tactics of regular SEO. It may be better to think of mobile optimization as a way to further enhance all the work you’ve already done. If you are making great content and using a link building strategy, then your mobile SEO efforts will largely involve a few changes to the website.

Take advantage of CMS
Mobile themes are already included for CMS platforms like WordPress. This is a major benefit that eliminates much of the work on your behalf. When selecting or developing a new theme for your website, be sure to maintain a mobile version for your mobile users to easily navigate.

Mobile sites compared to responsive sites
Though they might seem similar in concept, mobile sites and responsive sites aren’t one in the same. Mobile sites can be considered a parallel site as it runs on a subdomain, making the URLs look different. These websites give companies the ability to develop completely new content from the main site so that it is optimized for a mobile user.

Responsive design, on the other hand, relies on CSS to change the content based on how large the user’s screen is. This is the same content on the same URL, but everything will shift so it’s easier to read and interact with.

Depending on how technically savvy you are, these tips can seem like obvious measures or they might be completely confusing. Fortunately, any reputable SEO company can handle these tasks for a fee.