By: Jesse Aaron, Mashbout
Mobile access is steadily emerging as the primary method of using the web. According to the Pew Internet Project, over half of Americans own a smart phone, with many of them opting to access the web via their phones.
As a result, mobile SEO is becoming increasingly important for web sites to attract users. The mobile phenomenon is not widespread knowledge at this point, so savvy webmasters can get a jump on others in 2014 by prepping their sites with mobile SEO strategies, like the ones below.
Perhaps the most convincing indicator of mobile’s rise from an SEO perspective occurred in 2013, when Google Webmaster Tools added smartphones as an individual factor when detecting crawl errors. Now, Google allows webmasters to optimize their web site specifically for mobile users.
By heading to Webmaster Tools, clicking on “Crawl Errors” and then organizing the errors by smartphone users, it’s easy to detect which pages are giving mobile users issues, so webmasters can hone in on the fix.
Having a mobile-friendly template may be a no-brainer for some webmasters, but some focus so much on their traditional presentation that accessibility and sharpness tends to suffer on the mobile end. Blogging platforms like WordPress offer plugins like WPtouch to transform your site into mobile-friendly form.
The best part about these apps is that they keep the original layout intact for desktop users, while showing a different and more effective layout to mobile users. Also, sites like Themeforest offer mobile-specific templates for purchase that are both sleek and SEO-friendly. There’s no excuse for a web site to not have a template catered specifically to mobile users.
Don’t omit user preferences. After lugging the legwork for basic mobile SEO, we generally forget about the most primitive user preferences, such as language! It’s imperative to research official translation services to provide, at the very least, a bilingual mobile experience.
Investigate your analytics and simply look for the 2nd highest traffic source ordered by demographic. This will easily determine which secondary language to offer. Basic integration will detect a new visitor’s IP address and show the translated site. Simple!
Sure, accessing the web on a mobile device has its flaws compared to surfing on a desktop, but there are also fantastic innovations available only on smartphones that web sites should take advantage of.
Mobile-savvy features include mobile coupons, which encourage mobile users to interact with a site by providing discounts via SMS or a virtual barcode scanner, and click-to-call which enables one to call a number with a single click. One more useful feature is a store locator, where clicking on an address on a smartphone will open an app that will give directions.
Whether or not you implement these features is based on your web site’s tone and niche, but there is often at least one unique feature of mobile devices that web sites can take advantage of.
Although mobile is a new platform that even SEO experts are still trying to decipher, there are elements of traditional SEO that are still essential for mobile SEO success.
Content being ‘King’ is one of them. Engaging introductory sentences, headlines within the URL and sub-headings to break up long paragraphs are just a few elements of traditional SEO tactics that can still persist among mobile strategies.
Here’s an example of ‘common sense’ SEO for mobile experiences, with opportunity for improvement:
This is the oleochemicals page for Acme-Hardesty (a leading provider of renewable chemistries). The images across lining the header are perfect for mobile. The products themselves are still large enough to interact with and onsite SEO is clearly in place for these products. However, we’ll notice the text is just a bit too small to read without zooming in. By resizing and positioning for a better mobile experience, visitors will have a much easier time navigation our pages.
Giving your site a more minimalist appearance by focusing on the most desirable keyword-laden pages is one strategy that can pay off well for mobile users. They will want more immediate answers since they’re likely on-the-go and have a smaller screen to work with.
“Above-the-Fold” refers to what web site visitors see immediately when they load up a web page, before scrolling down or clicking on anything. It’s especially important, when catering to mobile users, to emphasize above-the-fold content like no other.
This tip comes directly from Google’s Webmaster Central blog, which notes that Google strives to load above-the-fold content in less than one second. Since they themselves prioritize this content, you should too – both in relation to targeted keywords and engaging content.
Don’t forget about mobile user experience as a factor in the mobile SEO equation. For example APG Exhibits prioritizes image examples for their services, such as the step and repeat backdrops:
We see this image first, before digging into any text descriptions or reviews.
Linking to other pages on your site via the header, as opposed to the sidebar or footer, is also highly recommended as a result.
The popularity of micro-image and video sharing apps like Vine, Instagram and Pheed had reached a new peak in 2013. There’s nothing to suggest their popularity will fall off, either. Although external of practical SEO, developing a presence on these mobile apps can help webmasters integrate the mobile promotion of their site into these apps and direct them toward users that are already accustomed to using their smartphone as a primary content device.
Even if the participation is as simple as sharing others’ relevant Vines or Instagram photos, showing users that you are mobile-savvy is a reflection of your site, which they will be more inclined to visit if the webmaster has a following and personality on these mobile apps.
Looking at the year ahead, there is no disagreeing that mobile SEO is becoming an increasingly important factor for web sites seeking an audience. By following the six tips above, you can get a head start on these strategies for 2014, trumping the trends before they even appear.
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.