Much of the discussion around mobile SEO seems to be a numbers game. Dozens of articles focus on mobile usage statistics – from 25 percent of all searches being performed on mobile devices, to cross-device decision-making. These articles have the goal of assisting professionals get buy-in from their bosses, or freelancers pitch to their clients.
While it's one thing to know that consumers are using a technology, it's quite another to know how, where and for what purposes.
Going Beyond the Mobile Stats
If all we have are mobile usage statistics – essentially quantifying a particular search demographic – then we have few insights on how to actually capture their attention.
This approach only scratches the surface of the present and future of mobile.
This article will look at:
- Distinct technical requirements of mobile SEO.
- Mobile-specific keywords and how to spot them.
- Ways to stop wasting your time with "killer content."
SEO and User Experience: The Real Overlap
Vanessa Fox, RKG's chief product officer, explores the idea of a real overlap between SEO and UX throughout her presentation on buyer personas. In the past, the discussion about this intersection has been about basic shoddy SEO practices, such as keyword stuffing.
Fox goes beyond these entry-level observations and arrives at the crux of what's absent: identifying user intent and motivation.
The overlap between SEO and UX is paramount when it comes to mobile. Few businesses understand that the mobile experience of a website is a unique one – fewer comprehend Google has outright said that a poor mobile experience will demote a domain's rankings.
What sets mobile apart from desktop SEO, then, isn't different weightings of rankings factors, signals, or personalization. Google's mobile algorithm will be (is already?) tailored to prioritize websites that receive immediate, tangible, and positive feedback from users.
This change means that offerings that have been secondary or even tertiary to our conventional services – like link acquisition and keyword optimization – are becoming key, influential best practices.
For mobile, we're going to focus on:
- Page load time (you can test yours here).
- Fixing bounce rate.
- Reducing redirects (each redirect = 2-4 second additional load time)
These considerations are what will actuallymake a difference in the mobile SEO value and performance of your website. Plus, it will make your users happy – delighted even. And when all is said and done, you can check how your rankings have been improved (or equally important, defended) using a mobile-savvy platform such as BrightEdge.
When performing keyword research, there's usually a search phrase that stands out as odd. It could be a niche request, or something completely inane:
I have trouble believing the term "coffee" has the monthly search volume the size of Houston, Texas. What do they expect to accomplish? (Let me know what you think they're up to in the comments.)
Miki Clarke, SEO Manager at MEC Global (AU), draws fantastic conclusions about industry-specific resource pages in an article about differentiating between mobile and desktop SEO. Of course, resource pages are accessed through search by including hyper-relevant keywords. Our main concern is that new mobile-specific keywords are emerging, and forward-thinking SEO professionals need to be aware of them.
Figure out and annotate what's relevant for your website by:
- Crunching the mobile-share percentages of keywords in analytics.
- Marking keywords you already receive traffic from for mobile potential.
- Brainstorm or intuit potential new keywords specific to your niche.
Once you've finished up the legwork, the next steps should be elementary. Start with optimizing titles, meta, and on-page content to include these keywords – preferably with new, dedicated pages that intentionally target your mobile audience.
Remember, mobile screens are tinier than your average desktop. Keep character lengths to 60 characters and 100 characters for titles and meta-descriptions, respectfully.
Context is the New Content
Actually, content was never really that important to begin with.
In the move toward making SEO more intelligent, strategic, and sincere, realizing the importance of intention and context becomes paramount.
Why particularities – such as load time or mobile-specific keywords – are foundational to great mobile SEO is because people who are on the go are looking for actionable, immediate and meaningful websites.
Mobile users are deterred by delays, friction, and unresponsive design. They won't parse keyword-garbled text, or navigate to the depths of some ether to buy products or subscribe to services – especially when competitors treat their time with more respect.
When mobile users are met with discomfort, they bounce and take notice. You can be sure Google is taking notice too.
It's Still About Numbers
Yes – it's still a numbers game.
More important than broader marketing trends, is the data available for particular companies. Whether you're hooked into Google Analytics, Omniture, or CoreMetrics, you'll be able to validate whether mobile is worth investing in today.
In making a case to whomever you're working for, being up on trends can only get you so far. Learning and applying the intricacies of exactly why something is rising in popularity, and exhibiting the expertise of how to plan and execute a strategy is what will win you faith.
Hopefully this article has armed you with something more than statistics – information or inspiration that can help ignite a sincerely user-centric mobile plan. As always, I look forward to your feedback, thoughts, or questions in the comments below.
Jack Allen of iProspect contributed to this post.
Image Credit: Ed Yourdon/Flickr
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