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Blog & Insights
Mobile SEO in 2020
January 17, 2020
By Heather Schallert As we step into a new year and a new decade, we are also stepping into a new definition of normal. Smartphones have changed the landscape of the internet. Everyone is walking around with mini computers in their hands, making getting information in an instant the norm. At the end of 2019, mobile devices accounted for 58% of all site visits. We’ve crossed the threshold and we are firmly moving into an age where computers will soon be obsolete. This means that mobile SEO in 2020 also has to take a step up in the evolutionary cycle. With all this change and the influence of voice search also coming in strong, you may be wondering: is SEO still relevant in 2020? The answer to that question is, and always will be, yes. As technology and the landscape change then so must SEO, but it will always be relevant as this is what Google and other search engines are built upon. With search now being mostly mobile, this is changing the way users go online, find what they’re looking for, and stumble upon something they didn’t even know they wanted. Because users can now access the internet from anywhere, they are no longer sequestered to their home or office to interact online. This goes far beyond social media and content consumption. Users are purchasing things online while they also stand in line for lunch, sit on the bus or the metro, in the back of an uber, and even at social events. Our addiction to our devices and our demand for instant gratification as consumers is changing the way brands sell to us and the technology that supports them. An estimated 91% of adults keep their smartphones within arm’s reach. For brands, that’s a massive opportunity to capitalize on.
Mobile Search is Step 1With smartphone accessibility always there, users are performing micro-searches as the first step in researching something. With the advent of Google SERPs and the distillation of information, search time is falling and the “deep dive” that so many are familiar with online is becoming a bit more shallow. People are starting the search and shopping process from their smartphones. This involves looking at different brands, pricing, styles, variations, and options. This first step is the information gathering portion of the buying process. An IDG Global survey found that an estimated 77% of executives of executives who start the search on their smartphones, 95% will complete the purchase from a desktop or a laptop. With the search starting on mobile, that’s a huge percentage of the market that will benefit from mobile SEO in 2020.
Mobile Search and Local SEOFor local businesses with brick-and-mortar locations, 58% of mobile users search for local businesses daily, and 72% visit a local business within 5 miles. The opportunity in a mobile-friendly website for local businesses is major. Local businesses need to do more than hope someone drives by or advertise in local publications. With this many people performing local searches on their mobile devices daily, local SEO needs to be a priority. Only so much can be found online and delivered to your door. What about the shoes that need to be repaired or the haircut that’s well overdue? HubSpot found that 70% of search result information will guide the user to a physical store. Local SEO is a bit different than general SEO as there are more location specific keywords and information that need to be crawled by Google. The Google Local Pack includes a map with relevant local results. The Maps Pack appears in almost 30 percent of all first page SERPs, making it the most frequently displayed SERP feature (along with the Featured Snippet). Focusing on local SEO is a major part of mobile SEO in 2020.
What Does the Rise in Mobile Search Mean for Businesses?Responsiveness is everything. This steady incline in mobile search will only continue, and website must be mobile friendly. Web developers are extremely familiar with responsive design and that isn’t just for mobile. Tablets of all sizes are included in this shift of devices to mobile and also must be responsive. What is responsive web design? Responsive web design adapts to the user’s device with flexible layout and images depending on the size of the screen. The viewpoint of the user is adapted to with different image sizes, font sizes, and navigation menus. Sometimes a mobile version of a website is simply a more simplified version of the desktop version. This is an incredibly intuitive and user friendly approach to make it easier to browse and navigate. Responsiveness is so important that users are associating it with trustworthiness. In a study conducted by socPub, they found that 57% of users won’t recommend or complete a purchase with a company that doesn’t have a responsive mobile site. It’s easy to see that a simple mobile-friendly site is vital, and market share can even be gained.
Treat Your Website as Your StorefrontBounce rate is real and if a user is having trouble using your site, they will leave in an instant and find a more mobile-friendly site. Optimizing for intuitive navigation will help you guide a user through your site to complete a purchase. Just how the storefront and layout of a physical location is important, so too is your website for a positive user experience (UX).
Google Gives Priority to Mobile-Optimized SitesGoogle understands where the trends are going and how to support the user first and foremost. While Google is certainly a business, they are dependant upon the user and will ensure that the needs of the user are being met with ease. Mobile first indexing is what Google is moving towards to give priority to mobile-friendly sites as they are aware that the majority of users are now searching on their devices. This opens a door to optimize the mobile version of a site. Google has provided a check-list on their webmaster blog to create an optimized mobile site.
The Importance of Responsive Design for Mobile SEO in 2020Responsive design is vital. Many website templates will already have this option built in, but you can also work with a web developer. Responsive web design is at the forefront of this movement and is the best approach to optimize for mobile searches. In a responsive design, elements will be condensed and rearranged. Having both a desktop and a mobile version will help:
- The user experience (UX)
- Conversion rates
- Google’s mobile first indexing
- Serve both mobile and desktop users
How to Check if Your Mobile Site is Google-FriendlyGoogle is the premier search engine with control over 75% of the search engine market share. Checking to see if your mobile site is Google-friendly is the first place to start. While other search engines are important as well, the focus is on Google. Because of this, your mobile SEO strategy will be centered around Google. SERPs, and featured snippets are the focus as users expect more out of a search and want to cut down on the time that they look for an answer. This includes movie times, directions, recipes, tech problems, local businesses and more. Google began researching and prioritizing mobile search features years ago and were well equipped to make the shift when mobile searches surpassed desktop. Being ahead of the curve and understanding which trends will last and mature has slated them for market domination.
Here’s a checklist to ensure your mobile site is Google-friendly:
- Google Mobile-Friendly Test. You can enter your URL and get a fast and easy analyzation of your website and any issues. You’ll be taken to a page with any flags that arose, page loading issues, responsive issues, etc.
- Google Search Console: Get a full usability report from this feature and implement any changes that need to take place
- Crawl by GoogleBot: Indexing pages is at the top of the list for any SEO. IF you pages aren’t indexed, Google doesn’t have anything to crawl and can’t index anything for search results.
How to Optimize for Mobile SEO in 2020Beyond the Google specific tactics that will help you site rise to the top of search results, there are many other factors that play into this game of ranking.
Look at All Mobile DevicesIn the age of the screen, there are so many different devices that people are using now. Phones that look like tablets, tablets that act like computers, and computers that could be tablets. It’s a wild world out there with tons of different screen sizes and functionalities. Using this free responsive design checker you can see how your site looks everywhere. Once you’ve got a visual, go through your site as a user and see if you can access everything that you would be able to on a desktop. This includes navigation, headingins, buttons, check out, email sign up, confirmation pages, etc. Cover absolutely everything and make notes on anything that needs to be tweaked or fixed.
Look at Page Titles and Meta DescriptionsAre the visible portions of page titles and meta descriptions compelling? Users engage with rich snippets, page titles, and/or meta descriptions at first glance when conducting a search. When there is super relevant information, then this is going to grab the eye of the user and encourage them to click. These can be managed by SEO plugins if you use WordPress or through your webmaster if your site is custom. If organic traffic is looking good and your target keywords are performing, then it’s time to make sure users are actually seeing your mobile optimized content.
Check Page Speed and Bounce RatesA slow page speed is the number one reason for bounce rates. When a page takes more than three seconds to load, the user is more likely to go back and click on another search result. Time is of the essence in our fast-paced results-driven society and your website is no different. Google discovered that for every second it takes a page to load, conversions fall by 12%. To check your page speed, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights for a report on how quickly your site loads on a standard 4G connection. One of the biggest reasons for slow page speed is uncompressed images and unused CSS. Most major web development platforms have native tools to compress images, but if your site is older or custom, you may have to spend the time going back and compressing all the images. Bounce rates are next up and this is major on mobile. When bounce rates are high, a value is not being provided to users and there is a huge missed opportunity for the company. Bounce rates can be higher on specific pages for different reasons. You can check bounce rates on your Google Analytics platform, and is there is a big difference between desktop and mobile then it’s possible it’s a usability issue. But again, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional marketing firm to get the most comprehensive answer.
Avoid Pop-Ups at Site OpenCompanies love pop-ups, but that doesn’t mean that customers do too. Pop-ups can be effective, but they can also be intrusive and unresponsive on mobile. Have you ever gone to a site and not been able to close the pop-up or make it smaller to find the “x” and you immediately close the page? That is one of the most common problems with pop-ups that also factors into devaluing for SERPs. You don’t have to abandon pop-ups, but testing them on all devices will help your bounce rate go down and your conversion rate go up.
Optimize for Voice SearchVoice search capability is rapidly growing. This includes Siri, Google home, Amazon Alexa, etc. Users are able to search without having to type or look at a screen, making colloquial keywords even more important. How would you ask a voice assistant to find something? Here’s some tips to optimize for Voice Search:
- Use full phrases as if you were asking another person a question
- Think about the different ways to ask a question
- Think about the user’s intent and if they need a phone number, address, or simply an answer
- Optimize for featured snippets as most voice assistants pull from there