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Portable Optimization – 5 Outstanding Practices for Mobile SEO

Marcel Casella May 20, 2019

For all intents and purposes, we live in quite a science fiction-ey world.

You don’t need to think that far back to remember when the mere idea of having a touch computer in your pocket sounded preposterous. Let alone that you’d be able to go online from a subway, broadcast a video of yourself for millions to see, and buy a pair of shoes before you got off.

Tech keeps changing at an almost frightening pace, and it falls on businesses to keep up with it or risk lagging behind the competition. Chief among those changes is the fairly recent shift to a mobile-first way of doing things online.

That mobile is the new kid on the block should come as no surprise. It’s been years since we learned that more Google searches take place in mobile devices than through desktops. But some businesses remain unaware of just how deep the rabbit hole truly goes.

For perspective, consider that mobile accounts for almost two-thirds of all digital revenue. Or that 51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product searching on their devices.

With 52% of the global internet traffic coming from mobile devices, adopting a serious mobile SEO strategy isn’t so much “an alternative” as it is a necessity.

Today, we are going to go over some of the most effective mobile SEO practices around and make sure everyone is up to speed on the matter.

 

Responsive Designs

In a nutshell, “responsive design” refers to a web development philosophy based around creating content that reacts to users’ behavior and environment. Reacting to things like screen size, platform, operating system, etc.

In a bit more technical sense, responsive design consists of a mixture of adaptable grids, layouts, and images, combined with intelligent use of CSS media queries.

What does this all mean? Simple: It doesn’t matter if the user visits your content from a desktop, a tablet, or a cellphone – It should automatically switch format to optimize elements like resolution, image sizes, and scripting abilities.

Why is a responsive design such an essential mobile SEO practice?

Well, let alone that responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern. Responsive design brings a host of optimization benefits to your SEO strategy.

  • Consolidating URLs across devices, improving UX.
  • Better Googlebot crawling efficiency.
  • Lower load times.
  • Overall better browsing experience for your users, regardless of device.

 

Optimized Readability

Mobile SEO is all about improving your user experience, regardless of platform and format. Readability sits at the top of the list in that regard. After all, your audience can’t possibly enjoy content they can’t figure out.

When we talk about SEO, ideas like “content is king” have been around forever, and for a good reason.

It is true that you need to provide value in many levels to have people finding your platform and then keep coming back. Yet, it can be easy to miss the forest for the trees. A difficult to read format will wreak havoc upon the best written and most compelling of blog posts.

Why is readability such a significant mobile SEO concern?

Having inappropriately sized fonts can be a huge problem, especially in smaller mobile screens. So, requiring your audience to zoom in to read is simply unacceptable. To improve your mobile site readability, you can:

  • Keep paragraphs under three lines long.
  • Keep lines between eight and ten words, or between 70 and 80 characters.
  • Use 16px font sizes.
  • Format lines to keep space between them.
  • Break walls of text into smaller, more digestible pieces.

 

Site Speed Improvement

Out of the many, many elements you can tweak, change, remove, or enhance to get your content ranking better, few are as simple and effective as your sites’ loading speed.

Users expect information to load fast, and they won’t stay long enough to be convinced otherwise. Back in 2016, we learned that more than half of mobile users leave sites that take more than three seconds to load. And since then, we’ve seen no indication of a shift in this behavior.

However, site load speed’s relevance for mobile SEO goes way beyond mere UX.

Google understands the weight users place in this particular aspect of their navigating patterns, so it has given it an appropriate relevance to match.

Why is lower site load speed such a significant mobile SEO concern?

Because they directly affect your site’s bounce rates, which has a direct impact on how Google decides to rank it. You can improve your site’s speed by:

  • Optimizing your images.
  • Minimizing redirect occurrences.
  • Avoiding bad requests.
  • Using a CDN (Content Delivery Network).

 

Avoid Troublesome Content

There was a time not long ago that, if you wanted your site to look modern and visually pleasing, you turned to flash animation or videos. By the same token, there are instances where interstitial content was regarded as an ideal tool to achieve several marketing goals with your sites.

When it comes to responsive mobile optimization, you should avoid using these elements like the plague. Google is continuously trying to improve their user’s search experiences, and frown upon practices and content that mire that goal.

Why is avoiding troublesome content such an important mobile SEO concern?

License-constrained media, that is, any content that could be unplayable to users results in a poor UX. Likewise, intrusive interstitials (pop-ups) that might seem like a great tool on a desktop environment, can wreak havoc on your user’s experience.

To make sure your design does not get in the way of your content, you should:

  • Use video embedding that’s playable on all devices.
  • Avoid standalone interstitials that get in the way of users accessing content.
  • Implement HTML5 standards for animations.
  • Avoid pop-ups that appear immediately after a user enters your site.

 

Accessibility

Keep in mind that not everybody it is as skilled as you are at operating your mobile device. Design elements like small (or improperly placed) buttons on your mobile sites can severely hinder their performance.

Navigation in portable devices is mired by several elements that inadvertently sabotage the experience you provide.

Why is accessibility such a significant mobile SEO concern?

Again, bounce rates are a huge metric for search engines. Having uncomfortably placed touch elements – like buttons and links too close to each other – will quickly frustrate your users, making them leave. As you design with mobile compatibility in mind, you need to ensure your mobile users can easily tap and navigate your content, so try to:

  • Properly size and place your site’s touch elements (like buttons) for a mobile experience.
  • Make sure your links stand out in from regular text.
  • Use coloring and contrast in your web design to differentiate and convey information effectively.

Why It All Matters

Mobile-readiness has come to be such a big deal precisely because of the way we interact with digital content nowadays. Today, businesses have to worry a lot more about how a user might experience their content on the move, or in less-than-ideal conditions.

Since portability is not going away anytime soon, mobile SEO and meaningful portable design is crucial.

The practices covered in this piece are by no means all there is to the topic. However, they should give you a solid starting ground to get your mobile optimization going.

Start enhancing your content in ways that make mobile experience more meaningful and enjoyable for your users. It is the way of the future.

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