It goes without saying that Google stands alone at the top of the search engine mountain, and today most people are searching Google using mobile devices. As a result, the search engine giant recently recognized that its ranking system still gives priority to the desktop version of a page’s content to gauge SEO, and decided to make a change to deal with the new trend.
Google has started testing a mobile index that will look first at the mobile version of a website for its ranking signals and resort to the desktop version if a mobile site isn’t available. This is a very exciting time for digital marketing agencies, like PBJ, that specialize in mobile site optimization, and we want to offer some advice on how to optimize a site for Google’s new mobile-first index.
- Speed. Google states that a two-second load time is the threshold of acceptability for a mobile website, and it’s possible to improve page speed to lighting-fast speeds.
Optimize images – Large images slow download times. Optimizing site images is a quick way to improve speed.
Minify code – Remove all unnecessary characters from source code while maintaining functionality.
Leverage browser caching – Browser caching keeps web page resource files on a user’s computer, resulting in faster load times.
Reduce redirects – Numerous redirects cause a site to reload multiple times, slowing down the user experience.
- Mobile Design. Designing a mobile site used to be a technical skill, but now it’s more of an art form. In addition to employing a responsive design, mobile site design should consider the following.
Avoid Flash – Apple eliminated Flash from mobile devices some time ago. With an estimated 63 million iPhone users across the country, consider using HTML 5 or Java instead.
Eliminate pop-ups – Want a high bounce rate, decreased rankings, and reduced lead generation? Keep using pop-ups.
Consider “the finger” – Mobile users rely on their fingers to navigate sites. Ensure they can scroll and tap with ease and avoid annoying accidental taps.
- On-page Optimization. Mobile search engine results pages have a lot less room to work with. Mobile sites need to take them into account and should be optimized accordingly. Keep titles and descriptions concise and to the point, and they will lead to improved rankings.
- Local Optimization. Mobile search is crucial for local businesses to drive foot traffic. Google research into local search behavior found that 50% of users who navigate to a business’ site visited that same business within 24 hours. Luckily, there are a few steps to increase mobile visibility, such as including the city and state in the: title tag, H1 heading, URL, content, alt tags, and Meta descriptions.