With Google’s mobile-first index update quickly approaching and with over half of organic searches now performed on mobile devices, the need for a mobile-first SEO audit is here. Ok, so you have a mobile friendly website or e-commerce site. That’s great! Typically, this is where most companies stop. They assume that if the content can be read or viewed on a mobile device, that’s good enough. For a company that recently invested in a new responsive web design, there isn’t going to be much rejoicing when they hear they need to spend more money on re-optimizing or re-designing parts of their website.
Mobile-First Is Here To Stay
Google has been telling companies for over a year now they need to prepare for a new mobile-first index. This means companies need to take a closer look at how they’re handling mobile content and the mobile search experience. We’re going to assume that you have a responsive website for the sake of this post. Now that you have a new responsive website, let’s take a deeper dive into what you can do to make that site even better.
1. Desktop vs. Mobile Content
Before mobile-first, desktop content determined what pages ranked well in Google. While this may seem like a no-brainer, removing or having completely different content for mobile visitors probably isn’t a great idea. Formatting that content differently is. In the case of landing pages, perhaps displaying the content to fit the smaller screen using stylesheets is the way to go. Replacing a phone number link with a phone icon would be one example of a better mobile experience. Consider less text and use of icons as a call to action.
Before making wholesale changes to your website, I would recommend doing a full content audit and review each major template. For example, your product category page is likely to have a different layout but a majority of the content on the page should remain the same. A blog may display headlines differently on mobile and perhaps use Google AMP to deliver content to mobile devices. Google recently released a new version of their Search Console with tools to help optimize your AMP pages. Text isn’t always the best way to tell a story on mobile devices, which is why companies have adopted the use of video. These are just a couple examples but there are several small ways to make improvements to your overall content delivery.
2. Mobile Competitive Analysis
A competitive analysis is always a great way to uncover mobile content layout ideas you might have missed. We recently uncovered several tricks one client’s competitor was using to improve conversions on their mobile PPC campaigns. Doing a review of your top 3-4 competitors and their mobile landing pages can reveal optimization gold! Check SEM Rush ad reports and hand check a few competitor URLs, then compare screen shots. You may be surprised what you can find. If one of your competitors has a much greater advertising budget, it’s likely they have spent time optimizing PPC pages and A/B testing. Use what they have learned to your advantage.
3. Speed Up Your Web Pages
One of the easiest ways to improve mobile performance is by decreasing page load time. A common solution is to test your mobile site on various 4G or Wifi connected devices. While this may be an easy way to hand check your page performance, it doesn’t validate that all users on all devices can access your website with the same performance. If someone is trying to access your e-commerce site on a 3G connection with a 6-8 second load time, they just might go somewhere else.
Testing your page performance on Google’s free page speed tools is a great first step. Using the results of this test, you can begin chipping away at Google’s recommendations to speed up your site. There may be some limitations to what you can do with your site based on your CMS and template design. If there are far too many changes required which are a limitation of your current CMS or WordPress theme, it may be time to explore a new theme or a custom web design.
If you have some flexibility, check out flat file CMS technology. A flat file CMS can drastically speed up your website and doesn’t require a SQL database. Websites that use a database tend to be slower than sites that require less resources from a server.
4. Start Mobile Click Tracking
One of the best ways to start a mobile SEO audit is to begin tracking clicks exclusively on the mobile version of your website. Using a tool like Crazy Egg, you can begin tracking mobile-only clicks and view insightful reports on how mobile customers use your website. You may be surprised how different people use your website based on the click results.
5. Review Mobile Bounce Rates
While there is some debate as to the effect of “pogo-sticking” on Google search results and actual website rankings, it’s pretty clear that high bounce rates are bad for business. In addition to click tracking, take a deeper dive into your Google Analytics reports. Overall mobile bounce rates may not give you all the details you need to improve performance. Look for which devices have higher bounce rates to see if there are problems with specific devices. Look for anything >60%. We tend to see AMP pages with a much lower bounce rate than normal web pages. Keep an eye on your Google AMP page performance to see if this is growing.
Let us know if these tips for better mobile SEO performance improve your results. If you enjoyed this post, please share on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. Happy optimizing!
photo credit: startupphotos (license)