TL;DR & Summary
Sure, your website is optimized for smaller screens. The real question is, can your users find your pages on their mobile devices? Most online business owners aren’t taking this seriously. If you’re not optimizing for mobile searches, you’re missing out on a big pie from the cake.
What you get by optimizing for mobile search is evergreen traffic from mobile users. You can fill your top of the funnel with a cold audience who can start a purchase journey once they land on your website. Check if you have traffic from mobile, chances are you would. Then decide if you want to serve a dedicated page to mobile users & not the responsive one.
Once you’re ready with a mobile version of your site, here are some ways you can leverage traffic from mobile devices without breaking the bank:
- Make sure, Googlebot can access all the pages on the mobile version of your site
- Optimize the visual content & URLs for the best user experience
- Learn to troubleshoot the common errors
Mobile search has become the default. So much so, that Google sends the Googlebot smartphone by default to new domains that are registered. The idea behind this is simple, almost all sites that are registered are responsive on mobile.
When sites are responsive on mobile by default, is there a need for mobile SEO? Yes of course! The site is responsive for small screens, but is it discoverable? That’s exactly what we will discuss in this issue.
When you optimize your site for discoverability for mobile searches, you attract a large stack of traffic to your site.
So huge that you might not be ready for it. Nearly 60% of traffic to websites comes from mobile devices alone. Considering that 5.4 billion people are on the internet, googling over 7 billion times each day, 60% is mind-blowing.
Unless you have a site created several years ago, you don’t need to worry about responsiveness on mobile devices. What I’ll talk about in this issue is how to take control over the discoverability of your site on mobile searches. I’ll talk about getting your pages crawled, indexed & ranked for mobile searches.
Check out this case study from SEMrush that talks about how optimizing for mobile, Edelweiss Bakery got a lot of exposure on mobile.
Myths & best practices
To avoid confusion, I’ve found a couple of myths & best practices to make the most out of optimizing for mobile.
- Google looks at the content on the desktop version to check if the content is relevant for the users. The mobile version to rank, understand the structured data & show snippets.
- Google doesn’t have a separate index for indexing the results. They serve mobile users, so don’t assume anything otherwise. This takes us to a best practice.
- Never create separate content for mobile & desktop users. That’s cloaking. You can redirect users to a sub-domain for mobile (m.yoursite.com)
- If you have different site structures for mobile & desktop versions, make sure you define those using structured data. Use the structured data testing tool to check if you put in place the data for both versions. Furthermore, use the robots.txt testing tool to check if googlebot can access the mobile version.
- The content isn’t content duplicate, so you don’t have to do anything with the canonical links. Check out the official statement from Google on duplicate content issues for mobile sites.
- If you don’t have a dedicated version for mobile users, you don’t have to verify your site on the search console as mobile. It will index & rank. Google will crawl your site as a smartphone agent & when your site is ready, Google will notify you about the same.
With that said, let me share all the good stuff you should know to leverage traffic from mobile searches. These tips are for sites that have separate versions for mobile & desktop. But, these are also good to know for anyone with a site that floats on the web.
Step 1: Make sure you don’t (even) block Googlebot smartphone
Google control which crawler visits your page. If you have a dedicated version for mobile users, make sure you don’t have robots meta tags that block google from crawling. The best practice is to use the same tags for desktop & mobile versions. For your reference, here’s a full list of Google crawlers (user agents) that visit your site.
Another way to ensure consistency is to have the same alt text for images on mobile & desktop versions (if at all you have separate versions).
When Google switches to mobile-first indexing, you might see a dip in traffic, which is normal, it’s the data that’s refreshing.
Make sure you check messages & data for more details.
Step 2: Optimize the visual content & URLs
To some extent, users can read the text by zooming in. But if the visual content isn’t optimized for mobile screens, it will give a bad user experience for users.
If images compress due to the screen size, zooming in wouldn’t help.
If your site has a lot of images, make sure you define all the images, search engines should see a .jpg as a jpg.
If you have optimized your site structure for mobile devices, ensure that any page doesn’t serve an error page on the mobile version that loads fine on a desktop version.
Search engines will remove such pages from the index. If you’re looking for answers related to indexing your pages for mobile searches, see if this is happening with your pages.
Lastly, if you have fragmented URLs (URLs containing # in the end) fix it or remove it. I’ve seen several sites from established individuals with such URLs, it’s common to leave such placeholders unattended. These URLs are not indexed, so make sure you don’t have any.
Step 3: Learn to troubleshoot
When you have two versions of your site & have implemented structured data it’s common to see a “missing structured data” error. This means that your mobile version doesn’t have all the structured data as the desktop version. You can fix (& adding) this by identifying the missing structured data and using the URL inspection tool to see if Google sees what you want users to see.
Another common error is the noindex tag on pages, this happens because a mobile page is blocked from indexing. To fix this, make sure you don’t have noindex tags on the pages that you want to show up on SERPs.
If you’re looking forward to winning online, here’s how I can help:
- Sit with you 1-on-1 & create a content marketing strategy for your startup. Hire me for paid consulting.
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