6 Mobile SEO Best Practices You Should Implement

Posted on February 11, 2018 by in Tips & Tricks | 18 comments

6 Mobile SEO Best Practices You Should Implement

Over the course of the last decade we went from a very small subset of the world’s population using Palm Pilots and PDAs to 2.53 billion people having smartphones in 2018. That’s exactly 1/3 of of every single person on Earth. So if your current marketing strategy isn’t focusing specifically on mobile SEO…that should change.

Luckily, since mobile search is booming, there are lots of neat tips and tricks that we’ve been able to figure out that will absolutely make your WordPress site’s mobile SEO first-page material.

Page Speed / Loading Times

These days, one of your main concerns for mobile SEO has to be page speed. Sure, keywords and clean code are ultra-important — they always will be. But if you have people searching for your site on their phones, they want your information fifteen seconds ago, not fifteen seconds from now.

In this world, milliseconds matter. Tools like the Pingdom Website Speed Tester let you see exactly what can be better optimized on your site.

pingdom mobile seo breakdown

Now let me give you some tips that once you get down will get your page rank up.

1. Think About Google AMP

Love it or hate it, Google AMP is one of the best ways to get your site to rank in mobile searches. It’s a fairly controversial bit of technology, and you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons regarding whether it’s right for your WordPress site.

Stealing Tom’s words in his amazing blog post on the subject, AMP can be summed up like this:

The AMP Project is an open-source initiative launched by Google in October of 2015 as a way to improve the overall performance of mobile websites. The project boasts its own lightweight framework – AMP HTML – and was designed to build super light web pages, thus cutting down on loading times.

While the AMP Project is by no means the only lightweight framework developed specifically for this purpose, it’s pretty safe to say that with Google’s backing, they’re in an enviable position. For example, sites developed using the AMP framework will be cached directly by Google at no cost to their developers (although they’re free to use other caching services if they choose to do so).

The controversy can stem from Google caching your page content itself. Like I said, just weigh the pros and cons, keeping in mind that site speed is absolutely one of the main factors search engines take into account when indexing sites. It’s worth doing your research and determining if AMP is right for you.

2. Optimize Your Images

It may seem pretty obvious, but the best and most common way of increasing page speed is to turn all the big stuff on your page into little stuff.

But that’s easier said than done.

Images are big. And yours are probably bigger than you realize (mine always are). And as you can see in my example above, big ole images make up for the bulk of the issues that Pingdom found.

The easiest way to deal with image file sizes is to use a plugin like Imagify, Smush, or TinyPNG. They each have a bulk optimization feature, and with a click or two, you can reduce your image sizes by 50-80%.

That can be (and often is) whole seconds off your page load speed, which is amazing for mobile SEO.

3. Minify Your JavaScript and CSS

Minification is taking those beautifully formatted and impeccably structured JavaScript or CSS files and removing all the spaces between the characters and lines. It makes them an almost-unreadable wall of text, but all those blank spaces take up valuable bytes your users have to load. And browsers can read the code with or without them.

So take ’em out!

Divi users have this one easy. Head to Divi -> Theme Options and at he very bottom of the General tab, you’ll find two toggles that say “Minify and Combine JavaScript/CSS Files.” Turn them on, and bada-bing, your site just got a quarter second more appealing to Google.

For the non-Divi users, it’s not quite as simple, but totally easy. (As easy as becoming an Elegant Themes member! Hah!) But seriously, you just need access the JS/CSS files you want to minify. You will copy/paste the code into either a JavaScript or CSS minifier and then paste the output back into the original files, and boom! Faster site.

Consider the User Experience

People aren’t robots. They don’t care if you have your website perfectly structured for mobile SEO. If it isn’t fun to use, they will bounce, regardless of how rock-solid your keyword strategy is or how clean your code is.

Not long ago, Google started ranking for user experience in addition to tradition SEO factors like speed and keywords. The takeaway here? Make sure you optimize for your users as much as you do the crawlers.

4. Stop The Pop-ups

You know what is the worst? Being on a website that has a really funny video of the cutest kitty you’ve ever seen, and then BAM! your whole screen is taken over by a pop-up that you can’t close. You can’t even find that daggome little X. And no,  you don’t want their special report on kitty cuteness the pop-up advertises. You just want to watch the most adorable video ever. But you literally can’t.

That’s not a good experience, and Google knows it. If you do this, know that Big G is not necessarily going to penalize you for using obtrusive pop-ups, but they sure aren’t going to reward you with higher rankings, either.

Oh, and speaking of not being able to click on or even find the X…

5. Make Your Touchable Elements Touchable

When designing for mobile, your touchable elements need to be distinct and responsive and apparent.

If there is a button, it needs to look and act like a button. No hidden functions or tricks. If a pop-up needs to be closed by tapping an X in the corner, make sure that your users can find the X easily and that it does what it’s supposed to do.

Menus should be readable, forms fillable, and videos playable. All with a touch, with minimal fuss. And definitely no muss.

By that, I mean, make the iconography on your site big enough for human fingers to touch. Your visitors should not need a fine-tipped stylus to close out a pop-up or open a menu.

6. Use a Responsive Design

The days of having a separate mobile version of your site are gone. (This is your opportunity to cheer and do a happy dance.) Your website should function essentially the same way on a cell phone or iPad as it does on desktop. It should look the same and use the same elements and structure. Google looks at this and factors it into the search rankings.

Why?

Because mobile-only sites are notoriously terrible (plus they generally use tons of redirects which slows down the experience and makes users bounce). They tend to be hard to use, difficult to navigate, and typically lack functionality that users want but can only access via desktop.

Again, that is bad user experience. And Google doesn’t like that.

(Oh, and have I mentioned that Divi is natively responsive? Just sayin’.)

What’s Next for Mobile SEO?

Who knows? It could be almost anything, really. But the theme of the past few years is apparent: putting users first. So that’s what you should take away from this.

Sure, content is king, but if the user won’t have a good time interacting on your site, Google won’t grant them an audience in front of his majesty.

What mobile SEO tactics have you seen the most return from?

Article featured image by ProStockStudio / shutterstock.com

18 Comments

  1. Interesting post. I enjoyed over read your blog post. Thanks

  2. Thanks BJ for another great blog post. I would love to get more information on installing & running AMP specifically on Divi sites. I have not yet found a combination of plugins/processes that work for me.

    My apologies if ET has already published a recent article on AMP. If so, I am unable to find it.

  3. So forgive me for being so green about all this but does anyone using Divi get a good score on the Google Mobile?

    I don’t mean to be negative but I’d love to see a 100% pure vanilla divi site that gets a good score on Google Page Speed Insights that is a real and functional site. I’m sure it’s just me and so I’d love to see an example, so I can learn but the sites I create don’t score well.

    I use Tinypng, I minify, etc. I love using Divi but I just don’t score well. I’d love to hear what others are doing so I can learn more.

  4. Google has started to penalize the website that has poor mobile loading speed. This is a very good information for everyone who are looking to improve their mobile site loading speed. Most of them make a mistake by uploading non- optimized images in their website this will increase up their loading time,its necessary that all the images present in your website are optimized correctly for better user convince.

  5. Thanks for this nice and fun to read summary !

  6. Thanks a lot for the six tips. I already implemented No. 2 and No. 4 to my site.

  7. Using CDN is extremely important on pagespeed that is search engine signals especially on mobile first index.

  8. As always, thanks for the informative content B.J. but just a couple of comments:
    1. The post link you shared above goes to an outdated article (it was published in May 2016). Obviously lot has changed since then (and the many comments needed to be replied too.)

    2. I really like Divi and Extra themes but making them capable of AMP validating using Google’s test feature was really tedious until the Accelerated Mobile Pages plugin came out – an now it is a piece of cake (not sure if just a few clicks means cake). It is free, it really words, and is easy to validate which is the goal.

    You can see it in action (on your phone) at my test site at https://skipandrews.com/ Check out the “9 Drunk and Stoned Success Habits” or the “Why I Donate to Jammin AT Hippie Jack’s” posts. Both of these were “automatically” AMP optimized by the Accelerated Mobile Page plugin.

  9. The manual process to minify and combine CSS and JS is a bit messy. I was nearly pull hair out of my head countless times doing this.
    With too much time and effort put into it, I’ve tried this function on Divi and now I ccan’t live without it.

  10. Great guide B.J! Looking more into SEO moving forward and this is a timely guide..

  11. Unique and incredible post, these tips are helpful for speed optimization & essential information for improving the mobile website speed. I am familiar with some of these tips like Minify JavaScript, CSS, Optimize Images and Responsive Design but others tips are really impressive and informative.

  12. With the increase in mobile users, we all know that the mobile queries surpassed desktop queries so it really becomes important to focus on mobile optimization. For best mobile SEO practice we should keep in mind that our website is responsive and load time is less.

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