What To Do To Prepare for Mobile First SEO

How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile Heading Into 2017 - Google's Mobile Friendly Test Tool
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So if mobile is the be all, end all for 2017, what do we all need to do to prepare? As promised in our previous post, rest assured good reader, I have you covered.

Although there are many different things you could be doing, let’s focus on the most important areas. If you get these five things right, you’ll be well along your way to ranking in 2017.

Upgrade to a Responsive Website

I remember several years ago, when the mobile web was almost like a different internet than the rest of the web. We had to have separate websites with the html stripped down to the bare minimum, because otherwise, you’d have to wait forever on pages to load.

I remember the mobile subdomains (e.g. m.returnonnow.com would have been our variant). Or separate subdirectories designated as mobile but otherwise hidden on the website. Even crawling directives specifically aimed at having search engines index the right variant of the site on the right platform.

Then about a decade ago, everything changed with the growth of smartphone adoption worldwide. No longer did websites need to be built to a fixed width, i.e. the size and resolution of a typical desktop monitor. If you remember surfing the web in the early days of iPhones and Android devices, surely you’re familiar with the awful experience of scrolling side-to-side and zooming in on different parts of webpages to view everything.

Shortly after this growth kicked in, we started to see newly designed websites that were responsive, or in other words, would resize according to the “viewport” as it is called today. In the past 10 years, responsive websites have evolved from a cool new idea to the standard, most accepted way of serving up web content on different form factors such as tablets and smartphones.

Bottom Line: If you don’t yet have a responsive website, fix it post haste. 2017 is only a few short weeks away.

Minimize Load Times

Page Load Times are very important for SEO and for the user experience of your website as a whole. But on mobile, performance plays a an even more significant role than on desktop browsing.

Google is pushing mobile optimization big time right now, and they know a thing or two about user experience and search satisfaction. They recently announced that mobile users get antsy and give up in as little as 3 seconds of delay for page loading. 3 seconds!

You get the picture: performance is one of the most important items to get right if mobile is your priority. Do you know what your average page load time is?

If not, run a quick and dirty website performance analysis now, to see what you can tweak to speed up load time.

Pass the Mobile-Friendly Test

After you’ve gotten your website all up to snuff for mobile, how will you know if you’ve covered all the bases?

Here’s a simple one: Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test Tool

Once you click that link, it will take you to the tool itself. Simply drop in your domain in the one field available, click to check the captcha box indicating you are not a bot, and wait for the results. This can be very quick or can take a while, so go in when you have time to wait on it just in case.

Once the test finishes running, the tool will tell you if you are mobile friendly or not. It’s that easy. I’ve included an example of how a “passing grade” looks on the tool, when I just ran it for ReturnOnNow.com, as the featured image on this post (above).

If you fail, there should be links advising you on how to correct any issues that are uncovered, as shown toward the bottom of the image. Happy optimizing from that point forward!

Semantic SEO First, Not Standalone Keywords

Since voice search is poised to take off in 2017, it logically follows that semantic SEO is paramount to your success with mobile. If you recall from my prior post, semantic match and machine learning are keys to succeeding with voice search.

Yes, you can do very well with semantic targeting already based on changes in search behavior. But with mobile moving to the front of the line, semantic is the single most important evolution you need to get injected into your SEO strategy now.

How do you swap focus from keywords to semantic SEO?  The key is to stop thinking of rankings as the holy grail of SEO. They are not.

No, you will never get a full picture of your SEO performance by a myopic focus on your top 10-20 keywords. At most, those will represent 30 percent of your overall organic performance.

So what makes up the rest? It’s a combination of things. For one, around 1/3 of overall search queries each day have never been made before. If you get this right, it would be reasonable to presume that 1/3 of your traffic will come from keywords you never saw coming. Keywords you never overtly targeted, but that Google decided are fully relevant to your content.

The remaining 1/3 then will be made up primarily of long tail versions of keywords, local match (more on that in the next section), and other keywords that you mention on the site but didn’t think of as targets.

So stop obsessing over where a few keywords rank. That’s really not where the action is. Focus on Semantic SEO first, and the benefits will grow over time.

Location, Location, Location: Get Your Local SEO In Order

One of the most important things about mobile search and browsing is that search engines can know precisely where you are physically located, regardless of whether or not you choose to share that information. And of course, they’ve decided to optimize SERPs according to your physical location.

The same holds true for your customers. If you run any sort of brick and mortar business, your location is very important for your SEO success in 2017.

As Google goes all in on mobile, the local pack (and it’s associated algorithm) will serve a key role. They are already serving up results based on location, including both organic and paid ads (which can be targeted geographically, among other controls they provide).

How tidy is the state of your Local SEO? Are you on Google MyBusiness, as well as the mirror offerings from Bing/Yahoo? Have you gotten your NAP information on all of the directories that Google and other search engines use to verify your physical location? Are you sure it is consistent? Have you managed to get reviews on any of these services, Yelp, or similar platforms?

All of these matter. And all of them will require effort to get done properly.

Summary

2017 is already established as “the year of mobile” for all practical purposes. Google has moved it to the top of the priority list. Start with these areas to get yourself in the mobile game, and you’ll be well along your way to succeeding next year and into the future.

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As Founder and President of Return On Now, Tommy Landry provides the vision behind our SEO and SEM methodologies. With over 25 years of business experience and a deep understanding of modern internet marketing techniques, he spends his time providing hands-on consulting, insightful content, and engaging public speaking appearances to Online Marketers of all skill levels.

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