Optimizing for local searches on mobile devices is like putting up street signs to help customers find your storefront when they’re on the move.
What is Mobile Local SEO?
Mobile local SEO refers to optimizing a business’s website and online presence specifically for local searches done on mobile devices like smartphones. The goal is to improve local search visibility and drive more in-store traffic and sales. Key elements of effective mobile local SEO include:
- Optimizing website speed and responsiveness for the mobile user experience
- Ensuring Google My Business and other local listings are complete and consistent
- Building location-optimized landing pages and content for targeting local searches
- Optimizing on-site signals like business name, address and phone number
- Encouraging customer reviews, local link building and local social media engagement
- Adapting link building and content promotion strategies for local intent
- Analyzing location-based search metrics and user behavior on mobile
- Leveraging Google services like Maps and Local Services Ads
- Using structured markup like schema.org for local business info
- Staying up-to-date on mobile search algorithm updates impacting local results
The goal of effective mobile local SEO is ultimately driving more calls, store visits, and sales from local mobile searchers looking for businesses like yours. Optimizing for local mobile search requires an understanding of key elements like proximity, intent and smartphone behavior patterns.
How Optimizing for Mobile Local SEO Can Attract New 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.
In fact, it should be noted that 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 local SEO is, why it’s such a crucial part of a strong digital marketing strategy.
Why Is Mobile Local SEO So Important?
In our mobile culture, it’s super important for website to be mobile friendly. This means cooperating with Google’s mobile first index.
Here’s some stats demonstrating the importance of mobile optimization:
- Mobile searches surpassed desktop searches globally in 2016 and the gap continues to widen.
- Over 70% of all searches are now conducted on smartphones.
- Local mobile searches have high commercial intent — 46% of all mobile searches are looking for local information like businesses, stores and restaurants nearby.
- Local pack domination is critical for visibility — the top 3 listings in Google’s local pack get over 75% of all clicks for local searches.
- Location signals like GPS impact mobile rankings — factors like physical proximity to the searcher and local relevance are weighted heavily in mobile local rankings.
- Poor mobile UX has consequences — 61% of mobile users will leave a page that takes over 3 seconds to load.
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 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:
- 25% of American internet users use voice search
- 71% of people prefer voice searches to typed ones
- 43% of shoppers use voice-enabled devices to make their purchases
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 Local 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.
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.
Check If You Have A Mobile Friendly Website Before Optimizing
Before you start making big changes to improve your mobile SEO, you should check if your website is already mobile-friendly.
You don’t need to load every page on your phone to find out. One easy way to test your website’s mobile-friendliness is to use Google’s mobile page testing tool. You can simply search for the tool on Google, or go directly to the website.
All you have to do is enter the page’s URL and click “Test URL.”
If you use Google Search Console, you can test your entire site using the Mobile Usability report. This report will check your website’s mobile-friendliness and organize problem areas by category.
After you have completed your mobile-friendly analysis, you will have a better idea of the work you need to do for your mobile SEO strategy.
It’s important to make sure your website is mobile-friendly, so you can better reach customers who use their smartphones and tablets to browse the internet. By testing your website and adjusting your strategy accordingly, you’ll be able to give your users a better experience, and ultimately drive more traffic to your website.
5 Easy Ways to Optimize Mobile Local 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 Mobile Local SEO
We can help you take the right steps toward better mobile SEO.
With our proven tactics, ,you can benefit from more leads, increase your visibility on the major search engines, and increase your revenue.
Our local SEO experts are ready to help you improve your marketing strategy and give your website’s mobile ranking the boost it needs.
Contact us today for a free discovery call to get started on improving your local SEO.