Mobile Search : How to Do it and Why it is Important
Mobile devices are the most popular communicators in the world. They lead users to sites and social networks for emotions, help to search for information, buy goods, and order services.
The recent estimates are stunning, about 5 billion people on the planet own mobile devices, of this 50% of them are smartphone owners. The US is in the top 5 countries where smartphones are used, as 80% of American mobile devices are smartphones. The figures are only slightly higher in wholly digitized places, like South Korea or Israel, as both are highly saturated with new technologies.
Smartphones are used by 95% of economically active Americans, as well as 67% of the older generation in the 50+ category.
Why Does a Website Need A “Mobile” Variant?
Search engines rate smartphones as a starting point in a user’s search activity. New conditions are being created for smart versions of sites or sites optimized for mobile devices.
For example, Google threatens a revolution in SEO, beginning in September 2020, the search engine will switch to indexing sites exclusively from mobile devices/Google SEO mobile. Such statements led many companies to think about fast and efficient mobile website optimization so as not to lose their traffic and profits.
That is why website optimization for mobile devices is an urgent task. Let’s try to figure out how to optimize your website and which decisions would be the wrong ones. To begin with, let’s see how Google responds to mobile devices being used to view sites’ content.
Google Ratings: First Mobile, Then Desktop
Google is the engine of progress in the promotion of websites’ mobile versions. This popular search engine does not exclude the use of a site with a dynamic display on various devices and a purely mobile site, originally built for smartphones. Google points out three features that are true for websites that are well integrated for use on a mobile device:
- A higher ranking in search queries
- 50% of requests to Google.com are requested from mobile devices
- A 5-fold increase in the chances of being read after switching from a mobile search query.
A leading Google analyst, John Muller, spoke about a new mechanism for promoting sites and their effective integration with the search engine in early May 2020. To do this, it is advisable to choose one version of the site. Muller said that the choice will have to be between a dynamic or a mobile version.
The mobile version is vital for ranking because Google takes mobile traffic into account in the first place and then it checks the other indicators. If the site is opened from a mobile device, then the desktop version is not taken into account in the rating. However, John Muller does not recommend deleting the desktop version and abandoning it completely, since it can continue to communicate with many users. Also, the Google analyst recommends investing time and resources specifically into the development of a mobile site.
Video commentary by John Muller:
How to Optimize Website for Mobile Devices
Here are a few words on how websites are optimized for mobile devices and how the transition to the multifunctional version occurs. Initially, websites are created to be either dynamic or mobile.
A dynamic site is a website that has a different design for a desktop, smartphone, or tablet. Each device has its page layout and when a user visits the site, they see different design options depending on the device being used.
The mobile site was created only to use with smartphones running Android or iOS. A mobile website is a radical decision, it is a transition into smart content, the most popular browsers offer the option to view mobile sites using plugins or by switching settings. But will the average user do this? The most common reaction, in this case, is to search for an alternative web product that displays the same information, but without any additional tweaks.
The decision to switch exclusively to a mobile site can be seen as both a positive and a negative step. If the website has a mobile version, then only the users of desktop computers will be excluded, but the mobile site will quickly gain weight in the search due to the loyalty of Google and other search engines.
Recipes From Google: The Official Release on Site Adaptation for Mobile Devices
In its official release on the adaptation of sites for mobile devices, Google described in detail the prerequisites for effective optimization, like:
- You must notify Google that the website has a mobile-readable version
- errors in creating content that Google calls typical should be avoided. The use of videos that are unreadable on mobile formats, the presence of non-redirected pages, the use of non-formatted ads, and pop-up messages, and slow page loading due to their oversaturation with content.
What is Useful for Desktop SEO is Good for Mobile: Useful Content, Comfortable Navigation, and Download Speed
SEO for versions of sites that are readable on mobile devices partially coincides with the requirements for desktop versions of web products. Mobile versions are separate websites that are initially built to present information on smartphones. They are technologically tied to the capabilities of these devices, so they load quickly and they have a comfortable interface for mobile devices. Another thing is sites that combine several page layouts, here you have to evaluate two or three versions of the site at once and for this, you will need special services and innovative solutions. But first, you must audit the site and see what needs to be done.
Website Optimization Testing
Google offers a standard resource for checking the speed and level of website optimization for mobile devices. For analysis, just go to the Mobile-Friendly Test Tool resource, there you can test using both the site address and the page code.
A test of the page of the US Congress resource shows that the site is optimized for mobile devices, but the service is also problematic.
The main advantage of this tool is that it checks any site without registration, though it only provides basic indicators for analysis. The Google Search Console works more accurately and in more detail; however, it does require proof of domain ownership. There are many other paid and free services available, for example, the Mobile-First Index Checker service.
This resource compiles its optimization checklist which has 8 popular options. It is convenient to use for an adaptive or responsive site since the service compares the optimization level of the desktop and mobile versions. An unexpected solution is Blisk add-in. It simultaneously opens the page of the site in two versions, desktop and mobile, and allows for choosing to display the site on the smartphone of one of the popular brands.
To check the speed of page-loading, it is also recommended to go through the Google mobile speed test. There are a lot of services like these and each of them is focused on a specific type of optimization assessment, which is why it is necessary to select them individually and according to the critical parameters for your website.
Testing resources in most cases are free versions of SEO websites or versions with a free trial access. This information is more than enough for the initial assessment of site compatibility. But if large-scale optimization is required, access to professional versions of SEO services will also be needed.
Trends in Navigation: Features of Mobile Versions
Versions of sites for mobile devices offer users a comfortable interface. They differ from desktop or tablet because of their special design and navigation. Here are some simple tips to attract the user and increase the readability of the site for mobile devices:
- use of large-sized buttons in the interface, which on a limited screen space of a smartphone simplifies the transition to search, different section or purchase
- the use of visual objects and understandable symbols in the design- coin (purchase), triangle (move on), square (stop), etc.
- short headers in the interface, that are understandable from the start and easy to remember
- concise colors and designs that read the same on all versions of the site.
How to Determine the Benefits of Your Content
Following search engines, users have become more demanding for site content, for example, texts with 1.5-2 thousand words are becoming popular and attract more visitors to sites. In addition to filling with symbols, the text must also be filled with relevant information. To rise higher in the search ranking and attract users, you should adhere to these three rules:
- make a high-quality, useful text that is relevant to the specific topic
- write the text in a way that would encourage the user to share the link or the text itself
- use keywords in the text to their optimal extent, it is advisable not to overdo them, otherwise, the search engine will identify the content as spam.
The use of keywords and their selection should be checked with analytical systems. For sites that are used on mobile devices, keywords may differ from desktop versions. Good analytical systems access search queries taking into account their specialization, be it mobile devices or a desktop. For example, when evaluating keywords by popularity, SEMrush can provide separate information for the mobile and desktop versions.
One of the features of mobile websites that use dynamic visualization is that they must be filled with the same content. In pursuit of brevity, the mobile version of the site is not being cut. Google focuses on mobile traffic, so if you cut the content in the mobile version, the desktop site will be read as a separate one or will not be included in the report at all, which will result in a serious drop in ranking.
Texts and the other content of a mobile site should be well-structured with sectioning and brief and understandable descriptions.
Mobile Websites: Speed, Interface, and Simplicity
Mobile sites have advantages that dynamic sites do not:
- the site is built specifically for mobile devices and thus takes into account the user’s comfort when taking in information
- the site is configured for queries in the mobile segment of the Internet – such queries are shorter and differ in content from popular queries for desktops and tablets
- the development of mobile sites is faster due to the high demand for this service in IT.
When creating or upgrading a mobile site, it is advisable to avoid the traps that await those who go to mobile sites. Unlike sites designed for desktops or tablets, for mobile sites, page loading speed, it is much more important to display the content at the user’s request without a long wait. If the page download speed of the mobile application exceeds 10 seconds, the likelihood that the user will leave is 123%.
Reasons why the content and the site design have to be optimized:
- Minimize the size of downloadable visual content to reduce page loading time and speed up response to a request. Pictures, photos, and graphics should be done with the minimum permissible resolution because redundant illustration files and graphics take a long time to load. This causes the user to leave the page.
- The code of the pages of the site should be simplified as much as possible, all unnecessary spaces, commas, all kinds of inactive characters, formatting, comments, etc. should be deleted. This will speed up page loading.
- A good solution is to configure caching for the site. This will significantly reduce the site’s loading time. To speed up the loading of the site, you can use CDN-technologies, which make the delivery of information to a mobile device faster.
- Ways to scroll content on a site require special attention. Studies show that mobile users are ready to scroll through the content window and look for the necessary information, but to do so, it is necessary that easy page down-up movement, without additional windows and pop-up objects that will transfer the user to other content is provided. For the mobile versions of sites, management should be especially comfortable and consist of easily manageable buttons that are free of long drop-down menus and numerous small details.
Must-Haves: Clever XML sitemaps, Secure HTTPS, and Adaptation to Voice Search
What else is important for high-quality website optimization for mobile devices? There are useful options that do not directly affect the popularity of the site, but in the end, they gradually increase readability and conversion.
An important component of your site for ensuring read well by search engines is the correct XML Sitemaps. You can compose it yourself, as well as use a free resource (for example, www.xml-sitemaps.com) or other paid services.
This kind of modernization will help search engines understand a site better and collect the necessary information for indexing a site for queries. For example, Google considers the availability of competent XML Sitemaps to be one of the key parameters for finding sites.
Another point to the website’s karma is the use of a secure HTTPS protocol. This option is especially useful for sites that sell products and use the personal data of users. The use of other data transmission-reception protocols will be indicated and may affect the user’s confidence in the site.
Another plus for a site created for mobile devices is the ability to use voice search. Setting up this option does not take a lot of resources, but increases the chances of interaction. One out ten requests is a voice search and 20% of searches on Android smartphones are voice searches.
Mobile Device Website Adaptation: a Trend That is Gaining Momentum
The results of website optimization are increased traffic and sales. The best way to analyze the quality of optimization is to view the analytical data from Google or services such as Semrush.com and compare it with previous data. A convincing argument in favor of switching the site to a version readable from a smartphone is the expert opinion from one of the leading research and advisory companies in Britain. It is that 30% of all content viewed on the Internet is on mobile sites or sites adapted for mobile devices.
Mobile optimization is an SEO trend of 2020, but even qualified specialists cannot provide a recipe or show a universal approach to SEO for mobile devices. Each time optimization is done for a mobile device, it is a new evaluation for existing results, the traffic received, and the profitability of such endeavors.