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5 Basics of Mobile SEO

Last week we highlighted the growing importance of mobile SEO, a topic that’s going to divide the search traffic winners and losers in 2015. In case you missed it, here’s what you need to know:


Okay, so there’s no question that mobile SEO is going to have a real impact on traffic. But how do you do it? What are the basics of mobile SEO?

Step By Step

stepbystepMobile SEO is primarily about functionality. Viewing a page with a small screen doesn’t make that page any more or less relevant to your search query, but if the page is harder to view then it’s a bad search result. Accordingly, much of mobile SEO is about making sure your site looks good and loads properly. Here are the basics:


  1. Mobile SEO starts with good regular SEO. Think of your mobile optimization as building on all your previous work. If you’ve created good content and cultivated strong backlinks, then mobile SEO mostly involves some site tweaks. But if you have a Google penalty or spotty SEO practices, no amount of mobile optimization will get you on page one.
  2. Leverage your CMS. If you’re on a content management system like WordPress you already have a built-in mobile theme that takes over for mobile visitors. This is a huge plus. However, it’s possible to disrupt how well the mobile theme works, usually through plugins designed without mobile users in mind. Run your site through Google’s mobile site analyzer and see if you get any red flags. You may need to disable or remove plugins to get back in the game.
  3. Separate URLs for mobile and desktop. If you run your site without a CMS, you’ll need to optimize it for mobile yourself. One way to do this is to have separate URLs for the two versions of each page. This allows you to package the same content in the proper way for each user, and is by far Google and Bing’s preferred method. The separate URLs are achieved through annotation either in the HTML or site map, with handy instructions available from Google.
  4. Follow the principles of responsive design. An alternative to separate URLs, responsive design is a sleek approach to coding websites so that a page’s HTML works equally for all types of users. The basic idea is that the HTML is fixed and CSS is used to style the page for the device that’s viewing it. Most web designers today are well versed in responsive design but you should make sure your designer is using it especially when modifying an existing website for mobile users. You don’t want a clunky workaround costing you page rank.
  5. No blocked or unplayable content. Google has an entire list of common mistakes to avoid, but the most common involve content or code that simply doesn’t work. Make sure that you’re not blocking search engines from crawling your JavaScript or CSS, which are essential to making responsive design work. Similarly, all images and video must be capable of displaying on a mobile device. Flash animation is generally going to be a problem for mobile devices, and you should either remove it or at least not use it for essential elements (such as a how-to video). To this we’d add simply not using oversized image files; they slow down load time on any device, but are especially a problem for mobile users facing slower 3G speeds or paying for data.

Depending on your technical knowledge, these tips may seem like simple best practices or they may make your head spin. Luckily, most websites can be optimized for mobile quickly and easily in the hands of a professional. If you need your mobile optimization (and mobile SEO) tweaked, contact EverSpark Interactive for a free consultation.