Mobile search is big business. In fact, it's set to overtake desktop search by the end of this year.
Whether it's finding your nearest pub or finding out what's on TV, mobile search is increasingly becoming a ubiquitous feature in our lives. It's essential then for SEOs to work with mobile in mind, which requires added considerations.
Regardless of whether you opt for a mobile or responsive site, two of those considerations that do have an impact on your SEO efforts are the loading speed of the site and how easy it is to navigate, both of which we emphasise on our 1-day Mobile SEO Training.
These factors are essential as a means to providing the sort of quality experience your users expect. According to a Google Study, 81% of mobile searches are driven by speed and convenience. In that sense, if your site isn't quick and easy for the user, then you're not providing what they want and they'll move on.
On the other hand, if the site is fast to load and simple to use, you'll be keeping your users happy. And if your users are happy, you're (generally) going to be keeping Google happy.
So what can you do to help speed up your site and improve the way users access it?
Make It Accessible
This first tip is less about the technical minutiae of your site than it is about good customer service.
Most devices these days have a touchscreen interface, so having a text-heavy site with tiny buttons that are suited to a mouse-click rather than a tap is probably not the best idea. This goes for responsive and mobile-only sites.
Instead, have big, pressable buttons and slim-down the content (whether that's text, image or video based) to be appropriate for mobile. Think about what you would digest on a mobile: it's unlikely to be a 10,000 word thesis is it? Think about easily shareable stuff.
Navigation controls are also a key aspect of this emphasis on UX. Aim for simple, clear bars with only a few buttons, or even hidden or nested ones.
Inc.com is a great example of this:
Notice how the top bar buttons disappear (or at least are hidden in a menu button) and the sidebar completely goes to be replaced with a simple scrolling layout that allows you to access articles in chronological order.
Accessibility on mobile sites is all about being clean and clear. Make sure you take that approach.
In terms of loading speeds, it's all quite obvious stuff. Lengthy videos, big images and overly 'rich' content will slow everything down.
If people on mobile want short, quick bursts of information or entertainment, then that's what you should give them, so compress your images and only serve up short clips of video rather than hour-long cinematic masterpieces.
If you do need to serve up 'rich' content think about using shortcut techniques. Google give an example of a picture gallery: loading up the previous and next images is a good idea but trying to load up the whole gallery will dramatically increase latency.
Minifying your code is also a good idea, which while perhaps not making an enormous difference to the overall site, could potentially improve the loading time of a document/page by up to 20%. Read Google's advice to find out how to minify your code.
Test With Emulators and Actual Devices
There's no real way to find out whether a mobile site will load quickly and interact well without actually testing it out, at least with an emulator but preferably on various actual devices.
While this will fall more into the developer side of site management and creation, it is essential for SEOs to know how well their site is performing. As such, it's not such a bad idea to test it out yourself.
The reason this is included as a tip for improving your site is because it takes testing to be able to identify which elements are causing issues.
Once you yourself have seen the problems in action, it's much easier to do something about it instead of being remotely told something's wrong and having to scramble round trying to pinpoint the issue.
In that sense, remember to test, test and test again.
These are just some of the things you need to consider when improving your site for mobile devices. For a full understanding of how mobile works, it's worth trying our Mobile Web Design Week.