More and more people use their smartphones to perform online searches today. But many companies neglect to make optimized mobile sites, causing users to get faulty redirects and smartphone-only errors, among other things. Not only can this cause you to lose potential customers who get frustrated with your site errors (and slow load times, text that’s difficult or impossible to read, etc.), but if you don’t have an optimized mobile site you’re about to face a reality check as Google takes a firm stance on mobile SEO.
In 2012 we discussed how important it is to optimize mobile sites—and it’s only become more important with Google’s recent plans to roll out several updates aimed at improving user experience. During this year’s SMX Advanced event in Seattle, Matt Cutts indicated that a prime area of focus with the new Google updates would be whether a website offers a great experience (site-wide) to visitors on mobile devices.
Websites that fail to cover the basics—such as redirecting visitors from a specific page they visit on their phone to the mobile-specific home page—may see a drop in their organic rankings in the near future. If your site is not mobile-friendly, NOW is the time to learn more and come up with a strategy to improve your site!
How to Optimize Your Mobile Website
The first thing you should do to optimize your mobile website is address any site configuration problems you may have. Here are some common misconfigurations and factors that Google is looking into so you can make changes before Google rolls out its ranking changes.
A faulty redirect can occur when smartphone users perform searches, and a desktop page redirects them to another unrelated page. This also happens when a website directs all URLs to a single mobile URL. In order to remedy this problem, you should redirect smartphone users to a mobile optimized page that’s equivalent to the desktop page. If you haven’t created a mobile version of the page yet, direct users to the desktop version rather than to an unrelated page. Otherwise, you might lose smartphone users who can’t find what they searched for on Google or another search engine.
The way you address smartphone-only errors depends on the reasons you’re getting them. Here are some ways to deal with these errors:
Avoid 404 error pages. When users type a desktop URL directly into the browser but it’s different than the URL for the mobile site, many websites will lead them to a 404 error page. Instead, you should redirect them to the correct mobile URL for the page they’re looking for.
Make sure you’re using Googlebot-Mobile correctly. If Googlebot-Mobile is redirected back and forth between a mobile phone version of your site and a desktop version, it results in an infinite redirect loop.
Check if videos are compatible with mobile devices. If you’ve embedded a video into your desktop site and it works well, it doesn’t necessary mean it can be played on a smartphone—as is the case when a video requires Flash.
Mobile Site Speed
Mobile site speed will also play an important role in Google’s ranking changes. As of now, you won’t necessary get a penalty for having a slow mobile site—but you will see a decline in rankings which could cause non-branded organic traffic to decrease. This ranking factor isn’t live yet, but it is better to start optimizing your site speed sooner rather than later to avoid a demotion in rankings—especially since no concrete date has been set for the roll out.
Launching a Mobile SEO Campaign
With Google ranking changes on the way, it’s more important than ever to create a mobile site for your business, regardless of how well your desktop site performs. Whether you’re an HVAC contractor or a remodeling company, you should consider launching a mobile SEO campaign in order to resolve any misconfiguration issues you may have and make your site mobile-friendly—and the sooner you begin the better.
Depending on what type of site you have, the size of your website, and which content management system (CMS) you use, it can take some time to remove videos that don’t play, increase site speed, or eliminate faulty redirects. And if you need to build a mobile site from scratch, it’s even more crucial to begin your SEO campaign so you can maximize your online real estate and get leads from smartphone users.
About The Author: Lexie serves as Blue Corona's Content Marketing Manager. She's also the author of our soon-to-be famous, and someday to be written white paper, "Horse Hat SEO: Giddy-Up Your Google Rankings."
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