On the 21st of April last year, search engine giant Google announced it would it would increase the relevance of mobile sites in their search algorithms, a move that cemented the smartphone’s place in small business advertising.  

As of July 2014, mobiles have overtaken desktops in raw traffic numbers. This, coupled with Google’s announcement, has widespread implications for small business mobile SEO (search engine optimisation): the short story being that, with a few small alterations to mobile strategy, businesses can rank higher on search page results and improve their user experience in the process. Optimising for SEO is critical, so read our tips from Google’s Head of Small Business Marketing first. Once you’ve mastered the first step, think mobile.

Mobile UX

Now that Google is factoring in mobile usability in search rankings, specific mobile elements will now play a greater role in where you stand against competitors: Site usability, popularity, Google involvement, page speed and keyword relevance will all play a part, and those who Google a keyword on mobile may well receive a different set of results than someone on a desktop.

What does it mean for your site to be ‘optimised’ for mobile?
It’s all about making things more accessible, and taking the pros and cons into account

A mobile site differs from a desktop site. The smaller real estate to play with means prioritising timely information and an easy to navigate format are key. Users access the web for specific info, so heavy loading times and page speed — a key SEO indicator — will be hindered by rich content, like photos and video. How you frame your content and key information, and the format, in which you present this in the mobile environment, become key considerations.

Optimising SEO for your business success

Usability will play a huge part in future SEO rankings, and re-purposing your site to be small-screen friendly will pay off. Easy-to-read text, keyword content, clean URLs, accurate meta-tags, larger and more interactive buttons (think pushes, swipes and taps) plus vertical scrolling will all make your site more enjoyable for your users, and are the types of functionality projected to increase your search rank.

Some website generators (such as Squarespace) are including ‘intuitive’ design in their framework, meaning the platform will automatically optimise websites for mobile. Similarly, custom website builders should follow their cross-device platform where possible. Whilst providing a unique experience, adaptive websites (where a separate site is built for mobile) has proven to be ignored by Google, perhaps because they frustrate users that want to share content across devices — if you’ve ever accessed an “m-dot” (m.www.etc website) on a desktop, you’ll know how annoying this can be).

Find your locals

88% of smartphone users complete local business searches with their phone.

Of these, 56% carry purchase intent, and 18% converted this search to a purchase within 24 hours. This latter statistic is short but powerful: optimising your site to include local details can have a powerful effect on sales (as long as your name comes up first, or close to it).
Ensure your business is fully registered on Google and Apple Maps, including local address details, hours, a contact number and logo. The influence of design can be important here, so it’s worth taking the time and consideration, where possible, to nail this – people respond well to good design, and that could be the difference between you and your competitor.

Social Media leads

Website popularity is a key indicator that affects search engine rankings — the more popular you are, the more likely Google will assume someone else is looking for you. Businesses that use social media (statistically, this is most of you!) will benefit from the increased traffic that social can provide, whilst also providing a helpful source of keywords that may be picked up by the search engine algorithms. Ensure your social media accounts are up to date with industry tags (are you a Hairdresser, a Plumber, or a Café), correct contact details, and website links, to be fully accessible to potential customers.

Just as you did with Map Apps, register your details on as many resource sites as possible – TripadvisorFourSquareYellowpagesZomatoTrueLocal, and others… the list goes on. You want to be accessed from as many sites as possible, so your popularity (and your beautiful mobile web design of course) will result in a higher ranking. Crucially, don’t neglect Google+ – an active brand page on Google+ is well received on search pages.

Integrating a clean mobile design and easily accessible information will pay off in dividends for your business, as mobile establishes itself as the conduit for traffic across industries over the coming years.

Tips for successful mobile SEO strategy:

  • Successful mobile strategy involves repurposing your site, not simply making it smaller. Allow your user to find their desired information as quick as possible (and think about what that information is!), without having to sift through unnecessary information.
  • It is generally accepted that mobile users type shorter key phrases into Google. Keep your meta-tags short and relevant to match the request.
  • Understand the intent of your users – mobiles are ideal for information searches, though apps may be more beneficial for repeat-use products.
  • Most mobile users are directed to, or on their way to, social sites. Keep your social links prominent on your mobile front page for potential engagement with new users.
  • Avoid a reliance on outdated content modes like Adobe Flash and pop-up ads – the data reliance and sheer frustration these can bring will drive away customers quickly.
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Stuart McDonald

Performance Media Manager

Stuart McDonald,
Performance Media Manager

Stuart is Red Wire’s resident devices expert. Android enthusiast, Virtual Reality road tester, and SnapChatter, Stuart is widely acknowledged to be the ‘DJ Khaled of Data.’