Mobile SEO

by Lindsey Winsemius - Posted 4 years ago

How to optimize for mobile searches
How to optimize your website for mobile searches.

Now that your website is mobile-friendly (we've talked about this before, remember?), now is a good time to make sure your website is showing up in mobile search results.

An article in Website Magazine recently stated "The rise of mobile will mean a decrease in organic traffic". Basically, the top brands such as Apple and Google will add features to their mobile search that will skip the regular search experience. This will result in overall fewer users visiting your website.

Now is a good time to make sure your site is set up to make the most of mobile.

Here are some tips, some directly from Google:

1.  Make sure your website is configured for mobile users. 

This means choosing from 3 options:
  • Responsive web design: Serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the users? device (desktop, tablet, mobile, non-visual browser), but can render the display differently (i.e., "respond") based on the screen size. Responsive design is Google's recommended design pattern.
  • Dynamic serving: Uses the same URL regardless of device, but generates a different version of HTML for different device types based on what the server knows about the user's browser.
  • Separate URLs: Serves different code to each device, and on separate URLs. This configuration tries to detect the users' device, then redirects to the appropriate page using HTTP redirects] along with the Vary HTTP header.
According to Google, they don't rank any particular URL format better as long as the page(s) and all page assets are accessible to all Googlebot user-agents. Since Google recommends using Responsive design, that is probably an easy choice unless you have a compelling reason to use an alternative.

When designing your mobile site:
  • Don't use flash (the plugin might not be available on their phone). Instead, use HTML5
  • Don't use pop ups (see common mistakes below).
  • Design for the fat finger. That, means plenty of white space and buttons / links that are easy-to-click.


2.  Tell the search engines your websites configuration.

Google has specific instructions for how developers can indicate the type of mobile configuration for websites, such as specific meta tags or heads. Be sure your website is telling the search engines it is mobile-friendly! 

3.  Avoid common mistakes.

Here is a list of common mistakes Google has identified:
  • Blocked JavaScript, CSS, and images files. Be sure the robots crawling your site can see your site like an average user so your content is indexed properly.
  • Unplayable content. Check to be sure your content is licensed and formatted to play on all types of devices.
  • Faulty redirects and irrelevant cross-links. If you have separate mobile URLs, be sure your redirects are going to the appropriate page. Also, don't have useless links between your mobile version and desktop version. Make sure all your links point to the equivalent page.
  • Mobile-only 404s. Avoid using 404s when you don't have a mobile page. Instead, redirect users to equivalent content somewhere else. But don't make mistake #3 and send them to your homepage or another page. Be sure the content is equivalent.
  • App Download interstitials. If you are promoting a native app on your site, don't let the interstitials (the pop up) block your users from completing their intended action (such as visiting a page on your site.). Google recommends using an HTML banner inline with the page's content instead.
  • Check loading speed. Just like loading speed matters to desktop users, it is just as important to mobile users. Check your speed using Google PageSpeed Insights and follow their recommendations. 

4.  Don't forget about other devices

Users are accessing the internet from a myriad of device types. Don't forget about the millions of people still-using feature phones, which cannot use Responsive designs CSS media queries. Webmasters wishing to serve feature phones would need to configure their sites to either use dynamic serving or separate URLs to serve the feature phone content.

5. Optimize titles and meta descriptions

Be concise when creating Titles, URLs and Meta descriptions. Mobile searches also tend to be phrased more frequently as questions, so keep that in mind when creating titles.

6. Use Schema.org

Schema.org lets you (or your developer) include rich snippets, or search results highlighting specific information. This is especially important for small screens to better catch the eye of the searcher.

7. Optimize for local search. 

Mobile is all about local, so be sure you standardize your name, address, and phone number, and include your city and state name in your meta data. Here are more local SEO tips from moz.com.


Optimizing your website for both web and mobile browsers is essential to successful online marketing. Build a website that your audience can find, and then make sure it is easy for mobile browsers to use. Make both Google and your visitors happy! 

Do you have any mobile tips? Anything you want to know more about? Share your thoughts in the comments below.