Let’s say that because you’re on top of SEO, you’ve already created a responsive site for your business. There are other ways of signalling to search engines that your site takes mobile devices into account, but going responsive is the most sure-fire tactic, and you can read more about that right here. But you might now be saying, “I’ve already done that and my site still isn’t ranking for mobile! What’s wrong?” Well, you’ll need to do a bit of sleuthing and problem solving. To get the best SEO results, you need to be mobile friendly, yes, but you also need to be mobile optimised.
Google yourself for mobile testing
To see what Google thinks of your mobile abilities, use its handy mobile testing tool. If you don’t pass, don’t panic: the results page gives you a list of the problems and links out to possible solutions depending on how your site was created. Often the fixes are simple, such as removing or adding small lines of code (OK, not so simple if you aren’t a developer), or they can be more involved – especially if your site’s code has not been updated in more than 18 months.
Find the robots
Some low-cost and free website builders and content management systems have default robots.txt files hanging out in your code. Your source code or the Google mobile tester will tell you where these files are. The problem with robots is that they block search engines from seeing certain things on your site, like images or entire pages. The crawlers do not like being blocked, though, and if they run into walls on your site, your rankings could get downgraded. This isn’t just a power-trip; they are trying to determine whether your site is relevant to an individual’s search, and if they can’t easily do that, then they’ll disregard you.
Remove the robots from any files you want to display or, if you created your site using a tool like WordPress or Joomla, make sure you are using the most current version of the software. You don’t have to remove them all (most sites have pages they don’t want visible); just be judicious and show search engines anything that proves you are relevant to the topic at hand.
In general, always using the latest version of your chosen platform is now really important. We know how it goes: WordPress keeps telling you that an update is available and you keep meaning to do it, but, “What a pain – I have content to write.” Well, it may be a pain, but the data tells us it’s important if you wish to keep your readers or customers around.
Be fast and get AMPed
A lot of responsive sites still struggle with load times on mobile, often due to photos that aren’t correctly sized, video that doesn’t work (hello, Flash!), or pop-ups that intrude on your initial page load to get you to download a company’s app. Google gets real cross when a site’s “features” intrude on the mobile experience.
An easy way to discover what’s slowing down your site is to actually visit it on your phone and, if you have staff, have everyone visit it, too. You need to see what happens on an iPhone 4, a new Galaxy or Huawei. This is a simple step that a lot of companies don’t do on a regular basis because they are too busy sitting with their laptops and desktops actually running their business.
The latest consideration in mobile is the Accelerated Mobile Pages project. We won’t go into the whys and technical hows of AMP except to say that this HTML modification allows mobile pages to load almost instantly. And Google appreciates it. WordPress and Joomla both now have plug-ins, but you’ll need to bring in the tech cavalry if your site was independently developed.
The good news about AMP is that your pages will load crazy-fast. The bad news is that they might lose of lot of their bling. The news for e-commerce sites is mostly good, though. Here’s how the team at AMP describe their current work: “…we have built AMP to be great at handling news and blogs, but it’s also now suitable to build many aspects of an e-commerce site. AMP is a natural fit for e-commerce because AMP makes web pages fast, and fast pages help with purchase conversions.”
Well, we all know that last statement is true. Frustrated shoppers do not turn into buyers, and happy shoppers do.
Start looking today for ways you can improve the mobile experience for all your visitors.