By: Jesse Aaron
As mobile continues to flourish in consumer-focused marketplaces, technical practices like SEO become more important.
Google recently announced a move that would make your websites rankings much lower if your mobile experience is less than ideal. With more people accessing content from video to news to social media sites via a tablet or smartphone, it’s important to optimize your website for the mobile experience.
Consider a typical movie poster plastered on a subway advertising slot. Now imagine if this movie poster was cut in half and blurred—is it providing any value? No.
According to a report from KPCB, about 15% of Web traffic comes from mobile devices. This means that there are 1.5 billion mobile users worldwide, indicative of a 30% leap in those preferring to use the Internet on the go. You’ll need to spend just as much time on your mobile platform development as you do with your desktop management.
Humana mobile manager Nicole Fabry said in an interview with Search Engine Land that, “If you haven’t started evaluating how your users are accessing your websites, start now. With the increasing proliferation of mobile devices (tablet and smartphone), users of all ages expect to be able to search for information, access their information and buy products wherever they are and whenever they want.” It’s also easier, she notes, to start with a mobile strategy, as opposed to applying it after the fact. No mobile strategy, or one that loosely resembles a desktop proxy, will require more work in the end.
Here are three tips to keep your Google rankings high and your potential visitors happy.
Help Your Visitors Stay On Course
It’s annoying, right? You’re searching for a particular item, click the link and you’re directed to a dead site. It’s the case of the dreaded Smartphone-Only 404s. This means that someone visiting your website might not return because your site directed them either to a homepage, or some other landing destination which isn’t optimized for mobile.
For example, imagine we’re trying to fix or upgrade our roof, in anticipation of a rainy fall and snowy winter. We’re out and about considering our options and we’re using smartphones and/or tablets to look up information. We find this metal roof system, but it’s too difficult to navigate on mobile (it looks fine our desktop browsers of course, but if you start condensing the window you’ll see what I’m referring to). All that this roofing site needs to do is make their design responsive so the images and text render appropriately for mobile.
Most users are going to hit the back button and search elsewhere for what they want. You want to focus your attentions on devising a good mobile alternative.
Try to Avoid App Download Interstitials
It might seem like a good idea, initially. An app download interstitial, in theory, should drive more people to download your associative app—but beware, it might have the opposite effect. If your potential visitor wanted to download your app, they would already have it.
Occasionally, a visitor might be grateful being presented with an interstitial, and provided they actually have the time, might download it. Your average visitor won’t stick around that long. They want specific information and want it right then. If a barrier presents itself, they’ll look elsewhere for the content.
Google actually recommends using a simple banner to promote your app inline with the page’s content. This banner can be implemented using:
Also, be very careful with how intrusive your ads and/or interstitials are. Many companies have exploited what used to be unregulated mobile advertising, and have now suffered legal wrath. If you’re going to set out on grand mobile advertising and promotional campaign, make sure you hire at least one marketing attorney that has experience in the mobile realm.
This one’s a deal breaker. Seems simple enough, but a lot of websites make this mistake. If your mobile user attempts to click a video and it isn’t there for some reason, you’ve just given them a reason to find another website.
You don’t want them to go scouring the Web for alternatives. If you want to be a high-ranking source, be sure that your multimedia is functioning at optimal levels. The trick is to make your video playable on as many devices as possible. Google suggests using HTML5 standard tags and avoid Flash, if possible, because it’s not universally supported. Even a transcript of the video is better than a faulty video.
You could say that mobile SEO is still a work in progress. There’s still a lot to learn. SEO from a mobile perspective has many layers and considerations you’ll have to test before finally getting it right. Bottom line—let your mobile platform be as important as your desktop component. Failure to stay on the cutting edge of mainstream consumer use might be detrimental to your company’s goals. Think of your mobile audience first, because 1.5 billion people can’t be wrong.
Jesse Aaron is a professional blogger with a passion for homebrewing. He writes on a variety of topics on his blog. Follow Jesse on Google Plus.