Effective local SEO requires a focus on your mobile-first audience. Here are a few ways to do it.
- Mobile friendly SEO helps you connect with mobile customers who are searching for services on their mobile devices
- Google’s algorithm references your mobile responsive website to rank your business on their maps app
- 5 ways to be more mobile friendly:
- Check the mobile website view
- Use larger fonts
- Be concise
- Make CTA buttons stand out
- Simplify navigation
Local SEO helps you connect with people in your geographical area looking for products and services that you provide. Part of an effective local SEO strategy in today’s climate is ensuring you meet your customers where they are: on their smartphones.
How Optimizing Mobile SEO Can Attract New Local Customers
Few people would argue that cell phones are not the center of America’s social universe. It doesn’t take hiring a local SEO expert (although that really helps) for business owners to recognize that capitalizing on a device used by 97% of the population can yield fantastic results.
It should be every business owner’s top priority to improve their website’s design and performance on mobile devices. Already, the majority of your customers are expecting this, with 54.8% of all web traffic being mobile at the start of 2021.
Moreover, one recent study found that people around the globe spend an average of 4.2 hours on mobile apps each day, a 30% increase from 2019. And around 85% of Americans now own a smartphone, with 61% of Google searches happening on mobile.
It’s never been more important to cater your local SEO approach to mobile users. We’ll be talking about what mobile friendly SEO is, why it’s such a crucial part of local SEO, and a few ways to get started.
What is mobile friendly SEO, and why does it matter?
In the simplest terms, companies invest in SEO so their customers can find them online, which is especially crucial for local customers. Local SEO uses the right tactics and keywords to connect with people near your business.
In our mobile culture, it’s super important for local SEO to be mobile friendly. This means factoring in how customers behave on their mobile devices and the apps they use to find products and services around them.
Optimizing mobile SEO to zero in on your share of that percentage – namely, your local audience – can help you reach customers in the right place, at the right time, to give them the best user experience (UX). This means cooperating with the mobile first index by eliminating visibility and performance issues.
The recent rollout of the updated Core Web Vitals from Google has made mobile useability very important for rankings. This guide will spotlight those factors and explain the importance of building a site that functions on both desktop and mobile while presenting the same levels of information and ease of use on both.
More about the mobile first index
In March 2020, Google first announced its intention to make mobile searches their priority, known as the mobile first index. Traditional desktop search crawls would still happen “occasionally,” but the writing was on the wall: Mobile searches would become supreme for businesses wanting to be found both by Google and web searchers.
Mid-June 2021 is when the rollout of Core Web Vitals officially began, and it will come fully into play as the definitive search ranking system at the end of August. In short, Google will highlight pages that offer a “great” UX.
Google will still index your desktop-optimized site if you don’t have mobile optimization, but this won’t translate well across platforms, since a great desktop site doesn’t automatically translate to good mobile performance. It is also imperative to note that a poor mobile experience can now also impact how well your desktop-based site ranks.
Here are some clear advantages of optimizing your mobile site:
Another consideration is where you appear on smartphone map apps, and again Google takes the cake with Google Maps. When a user searches for a store within a map, they should see your business pop up as a nearby option. Getting in the Google Maps 3-pack, which is the three results at the top of a map search, can be lucrative. A study by Google found that 76% of people who conducted a local search on a smartphone visit one of the top three locations within 24 hours and 28% make a purchase.
Voice Search Readiness
Phones today are multifaceted devices used as much for watching movies and listening to music as talking to people. Their original purpose – speech – is making a comeback in a big way, though, at least from an SEO point of view. Voice searches are rocketing in popularity as a means of looking for local businesses and committing to products and services.
A few stats illustrating the need for better Voice Search Optimization (VSO) in your mobile SEO:
Google uses a “3-pack” method to give users the top three most relevant results for local search queries, using the location of the searcher to create an even more accurate list.
For example, if a user searches “clothing store near me,” Google will deliver the top three closest and most relevant stores based on their current location and rank. These searches are often conducted on mobile devices where customers can get quick answers and simple guidance for taking action.
How great mobile SEO looks in practice
Every business must ensure that their mobile SEO matches the depth and quality of their desktop site. Harmonizing structured data and metadata between desktop and mobile is a must, as is ensuring the high performance of the trinity of metrics that form the foundation of Core Web Vitals:
- Load times (no more than 2.5 seconds is the goal)
- Interactivity speeds (aim for 100 milliseconds)
- Visual stability and image optimization (viewers shouldn’t see a cumulative layout shift of less than 0.1)
This measures the loading speed of the largest above-the-fold element on your page. This usually represents the most important element, so it’s a good measure of user experience if it loads quickly.
First Input Delay (FID)
FID measures how long it takes for a page to respond to the first user interaction, such as a tap or click.
Cumulative Layout Shift
This metric looks at a page’s stability by testing how often the layout changes without input from the user.
Each of these factors must perform equally well on both desktop and mobile platforms. Businesses need a baseline report that lets them know how their web vitals currently stand before they can even know where to start. See how well your mobile SEO is performing by visiting Google’s Page Experience Report. There you’ll find how your mobile experience is currently ranked alongside other actionable data.
You may also want to run your site through Google’s Mobile Friendly test. The key lessons are simple, but understanding the data and applying it successfully requires a specialized skill set. Businesses should consult with a dedicated local SEO team to start forming a mobile SEO plan that gets results as quickly as possible without cutting corners. But here’s some ways to get started yourself.
5 ways to focus on mobile friendly SEO
So how do you get to the top of Google’s SERP and map results? Follow these strategies to effectively combine mobility and local SEO, creating a more user-friendly experience:
1. Check the Mobile View
Always make sure your website and landing pages are easy to view and access on mobile devices. Most platforms allow you to view your pages from the perspective of a mobile device versus a desktop.
Fix any formatting issues and ensure that images look attractive in these formats. Make it easy for users to click through to other pages and use the menu.
2. Use Larger Fonts
Users who access websites from their mobile devices are working with smaller screens. This means you need to make content larger so they can read it. They don’t want to have to squint or zoom in to read your content. For Direction.com and our clients’ sites, we often size body content to 18px.
3. Don’t Include As Much Text
Mobile readers also want to be able to get the message quickly. They don’t want to read a novel just to learn about your services. Instead, format your web pages with bite-sized, easily digestible sections of text that pull users through your page, including bullet points and snippets wherever appropriate.
4. Make CTA Buttons Stand Out
It’s important to make sure your desired CTA pops on the page. Make your buttons and links clear, so users know what to do to take the next step. And use buttons whenever practical, because they are always more effective than hyperlinked text for moving users to key touchpoints.
5. Simplify Navigation
Finally, try out your menus and navigation systems on a mobile device. Make sure that any drop-down or embedded menus are easy to find and click using a smartphone. Don’t make navigating your site complicated.
These tips will help you create a mobile friendly approach to local SEO. Don’t forget just how many of your customers are finding local services using their mobile device, whether using a maps app or conducting a mobile Google search.
Be ahead of the mobile SEO curve
With the mobile first index now a key factor in getting to the top of local searches, it becomes crucial for companies to take action. You don’t want your business to be one of the many who will be watching themselves slowly slipping down the local rankings in the second half of 2021.
Instead, you want to get the jump on Google’s latest updates and your local competitors, which means taking immediate SEO action. Now is either the time to create a great mobile experience or fully optimize the one you already have.
Start by having your web designer create a sitemap of your website’s pages, and put some thought into which ones will most likely be viewed on mobile versus desktop. That will give you a list of which ones to prioritize for mobile optimization, which will be a good starting point for your SEO upgrade.
Work with Direction for better local SEO
The team at Direction will help you take the right steps toward better mobile friendly SEO. We help you get more leads, increase your visibility on the major search engines, and increase your revenue, all with the right approach to SEO. Our local SEO experts help you improve your marketing strategy and give your website’s mobile ranking the boost it needs.
Contact Direction today and schedule a discovery call to get started on improving your local SEO.