How to Optimise Your Website for Mobile Search

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We all know that mobile browsing has been a big deal for some time, afterall how much of your searching do you personally do from a smartphone or tablet?

Chances are, it’s a fair bit, and so you’re likely to have come across sites which aren’t optimised for mobile use, and be aware of how that can be frustrating from user point of view.

If your site isn’t optimised for mobile use, you’re likely to be missing out on conversions, as potential customers are far more likely to buy from a competitor, which has a mobile-friendly website.

But aside from practical concerns for users, there’s a new reason to make sure your site’s optimised for mobile; Google is now moving the goal posts regarding mobile search to give favour to mobile-friendly sites, so if you’ve been meaning to update your site for sometime, now is the time to do it.

What’s changing?

In Google’s recent announcement, they stated:

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

…which can leave little doubt about the impact these changes will have on mobile search results in the coming weeks.

However, this isn’t the first time Google has tried to promote mobile-optimisation. Google has been encouraging webmasters to increase the this over the last few years by the introduction of several analysis tools, and recently released a guide to creating mobile-friendly websites.

How can I make sure my website’s mobile-friendly?

1. Check your mobile optimisation

Start by using Google’s mobile-friendly test tool to check your URL. This will give you a quick ‘yes or no’ answer on site’s optimisation, and, if it’s a ‘no’, the tool will help to identify what’s wrong, and give some suggestions on how to fix it.


Even if you already have a mobile-friendly site, chances are there are still some improvements you could make. You should also view the Google Webmaster tools Mobile Usability feature, which will highlight various issues, such as:

You can also use Google’s smartphone crawler within the Webmaster Tools crawl errors report, to see how your mobile pages are accessed by Googlebot, and if there are any errors.

smart phone crawler3

Another feature within Webmaster Tool’s Crawl section is Fetch as Google; select the ‘Mobile: Smartphone’ tab to see how Google’s smartphone crawler sees your most important pages.

You can also perform a site analysis via tools such as Screaming Frog, which allows you to select ‘GoogleBot for smartphones’ as the user agent.

Finally, check the speed of your site is suitable for mobile browsing via the Google PageSpeed Insights tool.

2. Check your mobile traffic

Use Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to assess which pages your mobile audience are visiting, and what they are searching for when they arrive on your site.

In Webmaster Tools you can filter search queries to show only mobile traffic:

search queries

In Google Analytics you can compare mobile page visits to all organic sessions, via Acquisition -> Campaigns -> Organic Keywords:

analytics mob visits3

Use these tools to find out whether the behaviour of your mobile visitors mirrors that of those visiting from all platforms. Are there are any surprising results or high bounce rates for certain pages from your mobile traffic? You can also see what type of device users are using via Audience -> Mobile -> Devices, which breaks down sessions into iPhone, iPad etc.

You can use the Browser Emulation feature in Chrome Developer Tools to emulate each device in your desktop Chrome browser to see how users will see a certain URL on that device, which is really useful for understanding the user experience, and will help to identify any problems on pages with a high mobile bounce rate. It’s also a good idea to see how your top search queries display on different devices too, so you can see how you and your competitors appear in the search results to the device user.

Developer Tools Device

3. Check and monitor your mobile search ranking

Once you’ve identified how your top query search results appear in different mobile devices, you can then assess how you perform against your competitors. If you’re not ranking as highly as you’d like, do some investigation work and find out which keywords your mobile search competitors are ranking for, in order to find out which ones you could be targeting. Use tools such as SEMrush and Searchmetrics, which break down organic keywords for your competitors, so you know what you’re up against.

Use this information with what you discovered from your mobile search queries report in Google Webmaster tools to create a master list of keywords, which you can then feed into Google Adwords Keyword Planner. You can view ‘mobile trends’ and also ‘breakdown by device’, to give you an idea of different search volumes for smartphones, desktops and tablets, so you can prioritise keywords with the highest potential.

google keywords planner

google keywords planner2

Once you have your priority list, you’ll need to monitor your progress over time to make sure it’s going in the right direction. Use a tracking tool that supports mobile ranking tracking, such as SEMrush’s position tracking feature.

position ranking feature3

If it looks like your website is going to need some work, make sure you follow Google’s guide to creating mobile-friendly sites to keep you on track. If you’d like some expert advice regarding any aspect of organic SEO, please get in touch with us today.


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