In the last six months of 2021, Google received 89.35 billion site visits. With 64% of all searches being conducted on mobile devices 57.28 billion search engine results pages (SERPs) are for mobile visits. With Google indexing mobile first, it’s more important than ever before to rank on the first page of Google for mobile searches. Are you ready to learn how to take your SEO strategy to the next level?

What Is the Difference Between a Desktop SEO Strategy and Mobile Strategy?

First, you need to understand the difference between a desktop SEO strategy and mobile SEO strategy. Lucky for you, a great mobile strategy doesn’t differ from many of the best practices of a desktop strategy. You may find yourself removing some features, making buttons larger, and focusing on the user experience. The rest should have quite a bit of overlap.

Additionally, John Mueller (Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google) has come out to say m-dot sites are no longer necessary for a mobile SEO strategy. Google discourages them since a subdomain makes it more difficult to rank your site.

At some point, all of these sites with separate mobile URLs should just move to a responsive design anyway, which makes all of this moot. Separate mobile URLs make everything much harder than it needs to be.”

Why Is It Important to Have a Separate Strategy for Mobile?

You might be thinking, “if mobile SEO overlaps a lot with desktop SEO, why should I have a separate strategy for mobile devices?” You may not need to redo your SEO strategy, but there are a few key features to consider. These include:

With this understanding of why you need to consider a separate strategy for mobile, let’s start optimizing.

The 5-step Checklist for Your Mobile SEO Strategy

A mobile SEO strategy doesn’t have to be that difficult, and it can be broken down into five steps.

Desktop vs Mobile Website
Source: CSSChopper

1. Develop a Responsive Site

Two key benefits of using a responsive site are using the same content for desktop and mobile, while also maintaining any authority built for your domain. Utilizing an m-dot site can impact your site’s authority since the content lives on a subdomain. When building a responsive site, you want to focus on the device size and how this impacts your content’s layout:

  • Device size: This impacts how your pages are shown depending on the pixel length and width of the device. You need to make adjustments based on the device’s viewport, which reformats content. It’s essential to ensure your content and images adjust correctly. When this isn’t written right, it causes your site to be unusable on some devices.
  • Content layout: This is an essential piece that varies per device size. You want to make sure you have a layout for smaller smartphones, such as the old iPhone 6, and larger smartphones like the iPhone 13 ProMax. The layout on these devices may be slightly different, which requires different CSS to ensure the proper image sizing, font sizing, and more. Be sure to utilize the Google Inspect tool to view your site on different devices.
  • DIgital.com's page speed score

2. Decrease Your Page Load Speed

One in four mobile visitors will abandon your site if it takes more than 4 seconds to load. More users continue to bounce if your load speed is longer than 4 seconds.

To combat bounce rate, you want to use Google PageSpeed Insights tool or Lighthouse to determine how your page speed stacks up against others. Google provides you with a variety of recommendations to decrease your page speed, such as reducing unused JavaScript and CSS, updating images to next gen-image formatting, and utilizing lazy loading.

To open Lighthouse, right-click and click inspect, and a new window opens. Click on “Lighthouse,” and generate the pages report.

Once you address these issues, your page speed score increases, which leads to better rankings if your content is written well.

Pro tip: In most circumstances updating images to JPEG 2000 and implementing lazy loading are the low-hanging fruit of page speed optimization. Be sure you aren’t using large PNGs and only loading resources when the user scrolls to them. Lastly, if you have a large hero image or video banner, consider hiding this on mobile. It helps boost your page speed quickly.

3. Update Title Tags & Meta Description

Meta titles and meta descriptions may need to be updated for mobile searchers. Google has made some major changes to the SERP recently. One change that’s a benefit to mobile search is the ability to view longer title tags. Title tags can now show up to 78 characters, which is longer than the desktop version of Google.

However, meta descriptions are still shorter than desktop sites with approximately 120 characters of visibility. To properly display your meta title and meta description on both desktop and mobile, you should try to stay within 70 characters or less for your titles and 120 characters or less for descriptions.

hamburger drop-down menu

Digital.com has a great example of a hamburger drop-down menu for mobile devices.

4. Tailor Navigation for Mobile Users

Many desktop sites provide a navigation bar with many items from which to choose. When the screen real estate and precision of a mouse are available, more options can be helpful. However, thumbs and smartphone screens can pose visibility and clickability problems. You may want to develop a simple navigation bar or hamburger menu for when the viewport meets certain criteria.

Start by redesigning your navbars layout on paper. Cut out all of the nonessential items and see how many pages are left. If there are five or fewer, you can use a traditional navbar. If you have five or more categories, then consider a hamburger menu with drop-downs.

If you aren’t familiar with working in HTML and CSS, it may be useful to have a developer assist with some mockups. You may not know how much of a difference this makes until you visualize it.

5. Prioritize Local SEO for Mobile Users

The last element to remember when building your mobile SEO strategy is local SEO. Local SEO plays a big part in mobile search since the person searching may be on the move. If your name, address, and phone information are correct on Google My Business.

If your name, address, and phone number (NAP) data is correct you have a much higher chance of appearing high on the rankings when the searcher gets closer to your location. There are plenty of other items to optimize on GMB and lucky for you, there is a guide for that!

Additionally, since location matters, your content should be developed around the area you serve. That way, when people are in your area, you’re appearing as a top result. This is when to use a tool like Semrush to determine what local keywords have traffic. Optimize for these instead of generic terms that aren’t location-based, your site shows up more often.

A Recap of Mobile SEO Best Practices

Now you should understand why you need to have mobile SEO as a key part of your overall SEO strategy. Desktop SEO and mobile SEO aren’t mutually exclusive. You want to have well-written content, fast loading speeds, and a great local strategy, so use top-of-the-line SEO tools and a provide good user experience.

While you need to adapt to mobile devices with responsive design, you are better off for it. This is especially true since Google crawls your site often with a mobile Googlebot.