Need to know: mobile search has surpassed desktop, and search engines are prioritising mobile user experience, it’s critically important for businesses to have a 'mobile first' SEO strategy.

Simon Schnieders, founder and CEO of Blue Array, highlights the critical importance of optimising your website for mobile users and the forthcoming mobile first announced by Google in late 2016 and due for release in early 2018.

The web is becoming more and more mobile and Google, in particular, is adapting fast. Now that mobile search has surpassed desktop, and search engines are prioritising the mobile user experience, it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to ensure that they have a presence and a ‘mobile first’ SEO strategy in order to not get left behind on search engine results pages (SERPs) and miss potential sales leads and ultimately customers.

ENSURE YOUR WEBSITE IS MOBILE FRIENDLY

Google gives additional priority to mobile-friendly websites within mobile search results and expects businesses to optimise their web pages to suit mobile first and foremost. Therefore the first step is to first ensure that you have a truly mobile version of your website.

Many businesses work tirelessly to optimise their desktop websites and think that they can just transfer this straight onto their mobile site. However, this isn’t often the case, there are different SEO strategies to optimise. What might help a business rank higher within desktop SERPS, could in actual fact hurt the user experience in the mobile SERPS and be misaligned to users searches. Crucially, Google will shortly be using a mobile first index to rank pages, that means sites with differing links and content on desktop vs. mobile could see a decrease in rankings.

Once a business has developed a responsive website, they need to ensure they’re serving mobile friendly content to users. This will entail creating content that suits and corresponds with both the desktop version and mobile version of their website. Ultimately this should improve their user experience as it ensures they can access the same depth of content across all versions of a website. Thankfully, Google have said that website content behind carousels and accordions which currently don’t receive as much weighting as visible content on desktop will receive equal weighting come the mobile first index.

CONSIDER HOW MOBILE SEARCH IS USED

Mobile search is different to desktop, yet people assume it’s the same. Mobile search results are more localised, with users searching for businesses around specific locations, more interactive and have typically less visible content to the user. How well a business considers these differences in their SEO strategies will affect their performance in the SERPs. The next step is to ensure that you’re using savvy language within your website. In order to do this, businesses need to keep track of the way potential customers use mobile search and incorporate that within the content and keywords of their website. Consumer search habits differ between mobile and desktop – increasingly due to the use of voice search. Because of this, searches on mobile are more question and action based. Publishers need to include words and phrases that suit the needs of their target consumers into their web pages and structure pages with ‘featured snippet’ content to meet user needs.

LOCALISED LANDING PAGES

The third step businesses can take to improve their mobile presence is to localise their landing pages.

Most queries on mobile search are of local intent; meaning that users are searching for a business close to them that provides what they’re searching for. Google will explicitly understand all queries on mobile to be of local intent. For example if a user is looking for a Locksmith on a device they would most likely search ‘Locksmith’s in Shoreditch’, rather than just ‘Locksmith’s in London’. If the user is located in Shoreditch then Google would likely surface localised ‘Locksmith’s in Shoreditch’ results for generic ‘Locksmiths’ queries.

A business can improve their localised search rankings through optimising all their landing pages with relevant geographical keywords though the challenge with this is presenting unique useful and substantive content. Businesses need to maintain consistent NAP (name, address, phone) details across their presence on various third party sites they’re listed on. Including these details and even optimising content with localised titles, labelling of pictures and local information will make a business’s webpage stand out on relevant searches and help boost their positions in the SERPs including the map with typically three results underneath, also known as the ‘local pack’.

We’re seeing more and more businesses who are struggling to make it onto page one in Google or even into the SERPS at all, due to the fact that they have failed to optimise their SEO strategies to meet changing requirements.

To gain more authority within the mobile SERPS, whether that be in Google or Bing, businesses need to be building a better mobile presence that suits the constant stream of mobile friendly updates search engines use to rank web pages.

ABOUT BLUE ARRAY

Blue Array was founded in 2015 as a specialist rather than generalist agency focused completely on the discipline of SEO. So different is the model, they had to make up a whole new word to describe themselves. Part agency, part consultancy, a ‘Consulgency. In just a couple of short years the team has grown from two to fifteen with an enviable list of clients from big brands such as Time Inc and Mumsnet to smaller startups such as Lexoo and RiseArt. The team is led by founder Simon Schnieders and Head of SEO Sean Butcher.

August 2017