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SEO 20 min read

Mobile SEO: Rank Higher With These Tips and Best Practices

Sarah Edwards photo

Written by Sarah Edwards

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

Rachel Meyer photo

Expert reviewed by Rachel Meyer

Associate VP of Client Success @ Galactic Fed

Published 10 Apr 2024

If you run a website, be it your own or that of your business, then you’ve definitely heard of search engine optimization (SEO). You might even think your site is sufficiently optimized. Be that as it may, consumer behavior is constantly changing, and more people than ever before are browsing the internet using their smartphones. If you want to stay connected to this ever-expanding user base, it is crucial that you master SEO for mobile browsing.

A solid mobile SEO strategy involves fine-tuning your content to make it appear and perform better when viewed using a tablet or smartphone. Below, we’ll explore some mobile SEO best practices you can use to reliably connect with consumers while they are on the go. 

What Is SEO for Mobile?

Man in blue polo shirt holding silver iPhone 6 over his white working desk.

At its core, mobile search engine optimization is the process of fine-tuning your website and its content so that it increases organic visibility among mobile device users. In other words, it is a way of ensuring your site appears high on page one of search engine results pages (SERPs) on mobile devices. 

As with general search engine optimization,  SEO for mobile searches involves a multi-step approach that leverages some strategies you are probably already familiar with, like keyword targeting. However, mastering the concept requires you to use a few new-school tips. 

Each tactic moves the needle in your favor. And when you combine multiple strategies, you’ll climb the rankings and make your content more accessible to smartphone users. 

Why You Need A Mobile SEO Strategy 

As of 2024, over 60% of all website traffic originates from mobile devices. If you solely consider organic traffic, smartphones make up an even greater percentage of site visits (64%). The bottom line is that the majority of today’s users browse the internet from their tablets and smartphones.

SEO for mobile, therefore, provides a means of connecting with these individuals and presenting them with engaging content. Moreover, prioritizing SEO for mobile devices ensures that users enjoy the browsing experience, as your site will load faster, fit their screens well, and function as designed.

Even if you run a retail location and are happy with its current foot traffic, you still cannot afford to ignore SEO for mobile devices. After all, online shopping is becoming increasingly prevalent, and many of these transactions take place on smartphones. In fact, a staggering 79% of smartphone users made at least one e-commerce purchase on their device over the previous six months. 

Regardless of the industry you operate within or who your target audience consists of, there’s a good chance that the majority of your consumer base uses smartphones to connect with your brand. As such, investing in SEO for mobile will help you provide these users with a better experience while also expanding your reach among prospective customers. 

How to Do Mobile SEO: The Basics

Knowing how to do mobile SEO can be boiled down to understanding a few key processes. Adopting each of these strategies now will set the stage for more advanced mobile optimization later:

Building a Responsive Site

First and foremost, you need a site that is responsive and modern. If your desktop site is clunky or otherwise outdated, it’s going to be difficult to optimize for the mobile market. 

One of the biggest factors when it comes to responsiveness is overall page speed. A slow-loading page indicates a problem with your underlying design or hosting strategy, meaning a ground-up overhaul of your site may be necessary. In the case of very old or antiquated pages, a complete rebuild may even be more efficient and cost-effective than retooling what’s already there. 

Simplifying the Navigation

Next, focus on keeping your menus short and straightforward. Mobile screens offer limited space, so plan your site architecture accordingly. Also, ensure clickable elements are easy to tap on a small screen. Make sure to use legible font sizes and spacing as well. 

Optimizing for Local SEO

Incorporate local search terms into your titles, meta descriptions, and content to appear in local search results. If you haven’t already, claim your Google Business Profile listing to enhance visibility in local searches and on Google Maps.

Is Your Site Mobile-Optimized? Here’s How to Find Out

Once your mobile site is up and running, it’s time to see where it stands in the SEO hierarchy. You need a good foundation before you can leverage more robust strategies. But if your site is very unfriendly to smartphone users, you’ll need to go back and make sure you’ve correctly implemented the previous practices. 

With that in mind, here are a few ways to determine whether your site is mobile-friendly:

Use Google

The Google Search Console (GSC) has a simple mobile usability tool. Simply log into your GSC account and select the usability function. The console will provide some basic insights into what may be wrong and what you’ll need to do better. For instance, it may tell you that your content is too wide for the screen or that your text is too small. 

Resolving these errors may take a little trial and error, so we suggest making a few adjustments at a time. Recheck your site and repeat the process until you’ve taken care of all of the alerts.  

Ask People to Check Out Your Site

One often overlooked option for gauging mobile-friendliness involves asking people to access your site using their smartphones or tablets. Reach out to friends and family members and ask them to look over your page, then gather their feedback. 

You can also ask employees to review your site. But if you do, it’s best to set up an anonymous process to collect such feedback. Otherwise, some team members may be hesitant to provide their honest opinions. 

The downside to this approach as a whole is that it can be subjective. As such, you shouldn’t use it as your sole assessment tool. 

Explore Third-Party Tools 

There are certain third-party analytics solutions, such as Semrush and Moz, that are popular options for gathering detailed feedback on your website. They offer scoring tools and suggestions for making your content more accommodating for smartphone users. Before you settle on an option, though, it’s best to explore multiple platforms and consider things like pricing, features, and support. 

Mastering SEO for Mobile: 7 Tips and Best Practices

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Are you ready to get noticed by mobile users? If so, make sure you’ve addressed the basics and then proceed with the following steps:

  1. Revamp Your Content

If you’ve already created a mountain of content, you don’t need to feel as though you’ve got to throw it out and start from scratch to succeed. Still, you may need to revamp some of it to make it more accessible to smartphone users. 

Remember, short paragraphs are your friend, regardless of platform. If a paragraph appears too long on a desktop, it will look like a novel on a smartphone. Instead, try to keep your paragraphs between 50-100 words. And break up paragraphs with lists to make content skimmable. 

In a similar sense, while there aren’t any hard rules regarding content length, you don’t want to rely solely on the generic three-to-four-sentence limit either. A few compound sentences will take up more space than four or five one-liners. 

Lastly, be willing to leave a little space around headers and between paragraphs. Let your content breathe so things don’t appear cluttered on a smartphone screen. 

  1. Update Meta Descriptions

Next, revisit your title tags and meta descriptions to ensure that they still align with the subject of your content, especially if you’ve done some heavy editing. Additionally, consider updating your keywords to make them more relevant based on current search trends.

Again, though, you don’t have to feel like you must change every tag and description across your entire site. Generally, you should focus on your top-performing blogs and your landing pages. These are the sites you will be driving the most traffic toward, meaning they must be optimized for mobile.  

  1. Use Schema Markup

Also known as structured data, schema markup helps search engines like Google understand the content on your websites. It is a collection of underlying code that can transform your SERP snippets into rich results and differentiate your website from the competition. 

However, the downside here is that integrating structured data into your pages can be both time-consuming and complicated. If you aren’t comfortable with the thought of updating the code of your web pages, consider outsourcing these responsibilities. 

  1. Mix Up Your Keyword Strategy

For the most part, SEO for mobile and desktop will involve similar keywords. User search habits carry over between these two types of devices, after all, meaning they are probably querying the same phrases. 

The exception, however, is voice search. When it comes to mobile SEO, you have to ensure you are integrating keywords that are voice-search-friendly, as over 125 million people now use such features on their devices. 

When typing a query, people are more likely to use shorthand or grammatically incorrect phrases, like “buy a used car.” Conversely, people using voice search will likely speak naturally in full sentences or questions. For example, someone looking for car lots near them may ask, “Where can I buy a used car?” 

As such, you’ll need to target longer key phrases, especially questions, in order to support voice searches while also helping boost your overall rankings. 

  1. Check Your Speed

By now, though, you’re likely wondering whether speed really is all that important. And the answer remains a wholehearted “absolutely.” Nearly half of consumers (47%) expect your site to load in under two seconds. But even more concerning is that 40% of users will abandon your site if it doesn’t load in three seconds. 

As such, when you begin to implement changes to your website, always circle back to its speed and responsiveness. Use speed measurement tools to see how quickly your site loads when accessed via a mobile device. 

Higher-end tools will also provide tips for making your site faster, but some general ones include enabling text compression and removing unused JavaScript. Doing both should offer an immediate speed boost. 

  1. Monitor Your Progress

As is now clear, SERP rankings are rarely static. As soon as you move into the top spot on the first SERP, someone else makes some minor adjustments and usurps your place. If you want to earn and keep a page-one ranking, you must constantly monitor your site’s progress.

Some tools allow you to set up position-tracking campaigns. You can also track your ranking for individual keywords and monitor your overall status across both mobile and desktop search rankings.

However, you must make sure not to get caught up in rankings alone. Be mindful of technical SEO aspects, like site responsiveness and page load speeds. Anytime you publish new content or make changes to your website, verify that it is still optimized for viewing on smartphones. 

Additionally, you don’t want to solely look at your own performance. Consider how your competitors are faring and look for keyword opportunities that you might have initially overlooked. For instance, if one of your top competitors recently started ranking for a long-tail keyphrase that you never even targeted, explore ways to weave that terminology into your content. 

  1. Analyze, Adapt, and Improve 

Routinely running analytics reports will help you identify what’s working with your site. But more importantly, they’ll help you figure out where you are falling short and why. Once you know where you need to improve, implement strategic enhancements to climb back up the rankings.

Benefits of Mobile Search Optimization

Investing in SEO for mobile can provide some tremendous benefits for your brand and its customers, such as:

Improved User Experience (UX)

Why would users stay on a site if they can’t easily enjoy all of the content it contains? The answer is that they won’t. As soon as the user experience (UX) gets bumpy, most visitors will bounce. And that means all of the hard work you put in to earn a good ranking just went down the drain. 

On the flip side, mobile optimization ensures that visitors accessing your website from smartphones have a positive experience that is technically and aesthetically sound. Specifically, they will enjoy:

  • Fast loading times
  • Ease of use and navigation
  • Content that displays correctly without excessive scrolling

Providing a solid UX increases the odds that users will stick around, soak in all of your great content, and engage with your brand. With that in mind, ensure that your font is the correct size for mobile viewing, images and other visuals have been adjusted, and back-end technical aspects of your site promote speed. 

Increased Traffic

Remember, more than half of all website traffic originates from mobile devices, and more than 60% of organic site visits can be linked to smartphones and tablets. That means appearing on page one of traditional SERPs is no longer good enough. If you are showing up on standard/desktop SERPs but not those on smartphones, you are missing out on over half of all traffic opportunities.

Once you embrace SEO for mobile, you’ll be visible among the majority of users and increase your odds of generating quality traffic. Keeping total traffic volume high will give you more opportunities to generate leads and drive conversions. 

Enhanced Local Presence

Mobile optimization is particularly crucial with regard to local SEO. Smartphone users often have local intent, as they are looking for nearby businesses, services, or products. By optimizing for mobile and local searches, you make it easier for these potential customers to find you, which is especially important for brick-and-mortar businesses. 

As part of your optimization efforts, remember to claim your brand’s Google Business Profile to guarantee that individuals searching for your business using Google Maps or other GPS apps have an easier time finding you.

Additionally, when revamping your content for smartphone users, integrate local keywords into your meta descriptions, titles, and body copy. Improving overall visibility can be beneficial for your business, but maximizing reach among local audiences will deliver the most value. 

Improved Page Load Speeds

As mentioned earlier, most users are going to bounce if your site doesn’t load fast. Generally, you should aim for a load time of two seconds or less, with three seconds being your absolute limit. Anything that takes longer than that will have you losing huge volumes of traffic in one fell swoop.

While SEO for mobile is all about improving visibility, faster page loading speeds are a byproduct of your efforts. During your quest for improved performance on smartphones, you’ll have to address underlying technical aspects of your page that may hinder responsiveness and speed. The end result is a nimble site that users enjoy browsing. 

Making your page faster also gives you the opportunity to capture bounce traffic. For example, let’s say that you are ranked second for a particular keyword, and one of your top competitors has earned the number one organic spot. Unfortunately for them, though, their page is still dreadfully slow. When users inevitably leave your competitor’s site, your lightning-fast page will be waiting there to deliver valuable content. 

Competitive Advantage

SEO in any form provides a brand with a substantial competitive advantage. And if you can consistently rank on page one of mobile SERPs, that benefit only grows. According to most estimates, 75% of internet users never make it past page one of Google’s SERPs. Some sources even place the figure much higher, stating that 99% of searchers will only view results on page one. 

Either way, getting onto that first page gives you a shot at earning much more site traffic. And that means more opportunities to connect with consumers, generate leads, and make sales. 

Higher Conversion Rates

Generally speaking, U.S. adults enjoy and prefer making purchases on their smartphones. Around one-third of U.S. consumers conduct at least one e-commerce transaction per week on their smartphones, so if you sell goods online, mobile SEO will help you appeal to that sizable (and still growing) audience. Turning more opportunities into transactions will bolster your bottom line and give you a chance to pursue growth opportunities. 

Enhanced Social Sharing

Getting your content in front of more users is one of the best ways to support long-term growth. And social sharing offers a free means of expanding your reach. When someone shares one of your posts or links, their actions also act as an endorsement of your products or services. 

By optimizing your site for viewing on mobile devices, you make it easier for users to share your content, increase its reach, and potentially attract more traffic to your site as a result. Social signals are also considered by search engines as part of their ranking algorithms, so increasing shares can indirectly benefit your SEO efforts.  

Additional Advantages

Mobile SEO offers other advantages as well. For example, if you run an ad campaign targeting smartphone users and rank at the top of the mobile SERP, you can dominate both the organic and paid sections of results pages. 

Furthermore, ranking high on mobile SERPs can be great for your other marketing efforts as well. Paid ads, organic marketing, and social media-based brand-building are interconnected. If all aspects of your strategy are optimized, you’ll thrive. However, if just one major component lags behind, your overall presence and visibility will suffer. 

Expand Your Reach With SEO for Mobile

There aren’t any shortcuts on the road to peak SEO for smartphones and tablets, as making your content more accessible and engaging for users on the go requires a strategic approach and diligence. However, the tips above can accelerate your efforts and help you climb the rankings while simultaneously expanding your reach. 

Investing in SEO for mobile will help you better connect with smartphone web users, which now account for the majority of digital search traffic. As you embark on your mobile SEO journey, make sure to prioritize the user experience and continuously optimize your site so you can stay one step ahead of the competition!

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Sarah Edwards photo

Sarah Edwards

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed