Ever since the roll out of Google’s mobile friendly algorithm on April 21st, we have been working closely with clients and prospects to make sure their sites are optimised for mobile. The new algorithm, dubbed by some as ‘Mobilegeddon’ basically now includes an element that considers mobile friendliness within the ranking algorithm – if your site is not considered mobile friendly, then you are not going to rank as well for keywords as those sites that are.
Optimising for mobile however is more than just creating a responsive or mobile specific site; optimising for mobile is to consider the user experience on a mobile device and optimise the way your site functions to make that experience the best possible experience whilst delivering high quality content. The content will not change much from desktop to mobile, a key part of any SEO strategy, however the way it is delivered on a mobile device should be specifically tailored for that device.
As we have been working through various sites, we have started to pull together a list of all the factors you need to consider when optimising for mobile and now we have pulled them into a handy checklist that you can print off and run through to make sure your site is optimised for mobile.
First of all though there are a few things to think about before we hit you with the checklist.
How will you present your site on a mobile device?
If your site does not comply with Google Mobile Friendly guidelines, you have 3 options when creating a site that does:
- Mobile responsive – the same content is presented in a way that is easy to access on a mobile device
- Dynamically served – you present two versions of the same page depending on the device people access your page on
- Mobile specific – you create a specific site for mobile with different content optimised for mobile
There are pros and cons to using each of these methods but there has been a definite shift towards the use of mobile responsive sites, something that we recommend for nearly all clients we come across as they are the easiest to set up, manage and maintain and Google seems to prefer sites that handle mobile content responsively. Advanced Web Rankings have produced a nice guide to selecting which type of site will work best for you.
Mobile optimisation check list
☐ If you haven’t already, decide whether you are going to create a mobile responsive site or mobile specific site
☐ Check your site using Google’s Mobile Friendly checker in Web Developer Tools
☐ Configure the meta viewport tag which controls how your page is viewed on a mobile device. You can get advice here.
☐ Optimise your images by compressing large files
☐ Make sure page resources like CSS are available to Google Bot to crawl
☐ Avoid using Flash – instead use HTML5 which is recommended by Google
☐ Check your page load speed and follow Google’s advice for improving your load time
☐ Carry out mobile-specific keyword research – the way people search on mobile is often different to desktop to make sure you are covering all your keyword bases
☐ Check your title and meta description lengths – as search has moved more towards mobile, the number of characters/pixels allowed before truncation has fallen – it is best to test these for mobile first and make sure you are making the most of your page titles and meta descriptions
☐ Add structured data markup to give more relevance to your content. Using something like schema.org can help you to tell Google more about the type of content you are presenting as well as rich snippet data such as reviews. Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper is a useful tool
☐ Optimise for local search – a high percentage of searches carried out on a mobile device are location based as user’s are out on the move – there are some key steps to take when optimising for local search:
- Register with Google My Business (GMB)
- Target location based keywords
- Make sure your name, address and phone number information is consistent across your site
- Use the ‘Click to Call’ option for phone numbers on your site making it easier for a user to call directly from your website
Moz have a really helpful section on their website dedicated to local SEO so this is a great place to start.
☐ Think about the user experience on a mobile device – making it easier for people to click on links, the size of the font that you use and the size of the navigation buttons can all make a huge impact on that experience
☐ Optimise long forms for mobile – if you have a form that requires a user to fill out a lot of information, look at creating a shorter version for mobile users that captures the key data and follow up with an email
☐ Add social sharing buttons to your content – mobile is where most sharing of social content takes place so make sure you make it as easy as possible for a user to share on their preferred platform. Think about the type of content you are presenting and use relevant social buttons, not a one size fits all approach
Although we have only just skimmed the surface here with this checklist, if you carry out all the items listed above, then you will be well on the way to creating a site that is optimised for the mobile experience as well as meeting Google’s criteria for mobile friendliness. You can of course delve much deeper into each of the items covered in the checklist and we recommend that you do so to truly understand how each one of the items impacts on your website’s mobile experience.