If you haven’t been focusing on improving the mobile friendliness of your site over the past couple of years, you’ve been asleep on the job.
Mobile has been a major focus for Google, releasing two major updates in the past two years to make its priorities clear. Now after the announcement of the full implementation of mobile-first index that will use the mobile version of a site to create mobile search results, instead of using the desktop version to compile those results.
If you’ve been doing the work you should have over the last couple of years, you probably won’t have to change much to get ready for the new reality of mobile-first index. However, you should take stock of where you are to ensure that you are ready.
Here are some mobile-first index tips that will set you up for success :
Audit Your Site
Start by determining how mobile friendly your site truly is. You think you’ve done the work, but Google will tell you for sure what looks good and what still needs work.
You can conduct an audit on your site very easily by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. All you have to do is enter your site’s URL and you’ll get a message saying that it is mobile friendly or not.
If you’ve got some work to do, the test will give you some suggestions for improvement, such as increasing the load times or adjusting the sizes of the images.
If you want more comprehensive information about your site, there are numerous other tools that will run an analysis for you. Some of these tools are paid, and some will include other information, such as how you’re ranking for certain keywords.
Optimize for Local Search
A lot of people use their smart phones to satisfy an immediate need, such as finding a restaurant to eat dinner or looking up a movie time. Many of these immediate needs are for local resources.
To get your site to rank better for mobile, you need to optimize it for local search.
You can do this by using local terms on your site, such as your city, county or state, as well as nicknames and colloquial terms for these places, like “The Big Apple” or “The Windy City.”
You can also register your site with Google business, which will send additional signals for search. Include photos of your business (tagged with local terms), and include a detailed schema markup on your site.
Also encourage your users to leave you reviews. Those reviews will help you get new business and boost your local search.
Optimize for Voice
Many mobile users have voice assistants on their phone or tablets, such as Siri. They are more likely to speak their search commands than to type them.
If you want your site to be seen, you need to make sure that it is optimized for voice search, as well. The best way to do this is to think about how people will speak their search. They are unlikely to say “orthodontist Kansas City;” instead, they are likely to say something like, “What orthodontists are in Kansas City?” or “show me orthodontists near me.”
You need to use phrases like that in your content, and you need to make sure other page indicators are there to match search, such as a local address or map of your location.
Sign Up for AMP
Google also offers AMP, or accelerated mobile pages.
AMP displays articles for mobile users nearly instantly. They don’t have to click to see the article, and they don’t have to wait for a slow page to load. Google says these articles appear four times faster than the average mobile page.
You can easily format your pages for AMP by following the stripped-down HTML instructions that Google provides.
You will have the original version on your mobile site, as well as the AMP version. You’ll get an SEO boost and more traffic.
WordPress plugins make it easier to convert your pages to AMP if you don’t feel comfortable with the coding.
Formatting for AMP isn’t necessary for making your site mobile friendly, but it will give you a boost in mobile rankings. At any rate, it will only help you to get more mobile users.
At some point in the future, it’s likely that the only way people will be accessing the Internet is through mobile devices. Even now, the majority of people are using mobile devices to search. The only way to stay relevant is to make your site as accessible to mobile users as possible.
The above mobile-first index tips will set you up for success. Taking these steps will help you to rank higher in this mobile-first index reality. You’ll stay visible with your target audience, and you may even outrank your competitors (even if you didn’t on desktop).