With more than 60% of searches being done from mobile devices, mobile SEO has become more important than ever. However, optimizing your website for mobile is quite different from the usual search engine optimization tactics, and if not done properly, can push down your website in mobile search results.
Here are 7 mobile SEO mistakes you need to watch out for, if you want your mobile site to rank well in SERPs and drive more traffic to your business.
1. Slow Site Speed
Although Page load speed is one of the ranking factors for Google, it’s equally important to the people who actually visit your site. In fact, did you know that 53% of visitors leave a site, if it takes more than 3 seconds to load?
The key is to load your pages within 1-2 seconds. Here are some ways you can speed up your mobile site:
- Minimize redirects and requests – Redirects increase page load time and should be avoided at all costs. Also remove unnecessary HTML elements from your page, and minify your CSS & JS files using tools like Minifier.org
- Compress images – Images have a large file size and take longer to load. Use tools like compressor.io to compress your images.
- Evaluate multiple hosting solutions – Don’t settle for cheap hosting solutions. They won’t be able to give you the site speed required to handle tons of traffic, especially if you have large website such as an ecommerce site or a blog.
- Analyze your site – Google has provided an amazing free tool called Google PageSpeed Insights that analyzes your website performance for desktop as well as mobile devices and provides recommendations to improve your site speed. In fact, it even provides a zip file containing compressed images and minimized css & js files on your website
If your website has mainly read-only content (such as blogs & news sites), then you can also consider creating AMP pages for your website. AMP pages are basically HTML pages with minimal to none JS coding, and load 4 times faster than normal pages.
2. Faulty redirects
Many websites redirect users to the desktop or mobile site, depending on their device. However, bad redirects are one of the most common reasons why websites aren’t optimized for mobile, especially when they have separate URLs for desktop & mobile. Here are some ways to fix it:
- If a mobile user lands on a desktop version of your page, redirect them to the mobile version of the same page, instead of sending them to the home page of your mobile site.
- If you don’t have mobile versions of all your desktop pages, then you should leave them on your desktop pages, instead of sending them to your mobile site’s home page.
- If users arrive at your site via dynamic URLs (common for ecommerce sites), then they should be redirected to their equivalent dynamic URLs of your mobile site
- No matter which device they use, all mobile users must be served the same content.
- The internal links on your mobile site pages should only point to other pages on your mobile site, and not desktop pages.
Verify your mobile site with Google, so you can be automatically notified of faulty redirects.
3. Interstitial ads
Google has recently announced that those pages where users can’t access content easily won’t rank high. In other words, if your mobile site provides a poor user experience, it’s ranking will suffer.
So ensure that you’re not displaying too many popup ads and forms on your website. Here are some common culprits that you should avoid:
- Popups that cover the main content of your page, when users arrive on your site or scroll through your page.
- Interstitials that are hard to avoid and take users to a new page when they’re clicked.
- Deceptive layouts, that show a huge interstitial above the fold, and the user needs to scroll down or click a button to view the actual content.
However, there are some perfectly acceptable interstitials such as :
- Legally required interstitials about cookie usage & age verification
- Login forms for private content such as exclusive articles for registered users.
4. Your multimedia content doesn’t play
When you add multimedia content such as video or animations to your website, ensure that they are playable on all devices.
Add a transcript to your videos so that they can be indexed and ranked for a wide range of relevant keywords. It also helps users who prefer subtitles, or watch videos without audio when they’re in office, home or on-the-move.
If you want to add animations to your site, then Google recommends using HTML5. They’ve also provided Google Web Designer that allows you to easily create cross-platform animations.
5. Mobile-only 404s
One of the most important aspects of Mobile SEO is to make sure that users see the same content whether they access it using desktop or a mobile device.
Ensure that users don’t get a 404 (page not found) error on your mobile site, when they try to access a page that they’re able to view properly on a desktop.
Use tools like BrokenLinkCheck to quickly discover all the broken links on your site, for both desktop & mobile website, and fix them ASAP.
6. Poor design
Design your website for mobiles & tablets, instead of desktops. It means avoiding small font sizes, and illegible font styles.
Also, avoid cluttering your pages with too many visual elements. This will ensure that users don’t click the wrong button or link accidentally. Ensure that the buttons on your mobile site are big enough to be tapped using a thumb.
7. Not specifying mobile viewport
Mobile devices come in a variety of size & shapes, so you need to ensure that your content fits every screen correctly. To do this, you need to specify the correct viewport using the viewport meta tag on your page. Here are couple of mistakes you should avoid while specifying the viewport:
- Using a fixed-width viewport for your pages. They work for only certain screen sizes and don’t scale well for the rest.
- Not using a small enough minimum viewport setting. As a result, viewers with small screens can’t view your content properly.
Here’s how you can fix these issues:
- Enable user scaling in your viewport meta tag using the user-scalable attribute (yes/no) attribute
- Use viewport tag to set the basic dimensions of your users’ screen.
- Use width=device-width to ensure that your page’s screen-width is device-independent
- Use initial-scale=1 to ensure that your pixel specifications in CSS files are device-independent
Here’s the Google documentation about viewport settings. You can also use media queries to style your page elements differently, depending on screen size.
Avoid the above mistakes and you’ll be able to drive more visitors to your mobile site. The key is to provide a great user experience that is consistent across devices (mobile & desktop). It means a fast loading mobile site that has a clean UI and adapts to user’s device to deliver an optimized mobile experience.