Ensuring that your website is optimized for mobile search is essential if you don’t want to miss out on key traffic and potential customers.
One of the most often question asked by our clients is What’s the difference between mobile-friendly, mobile-optimized, and mobile responsive?
It can be really confusing what all of these terms mean. We’ll try to explain them here.
Mobile search is a constantly growing segment of the market, but mobile search has different rules from the traditional desktop search. This is why if you don’t want to miss mobile searchers, you need to adapt your website.
Not so long time ago Google rolled out a new version of their search algorithm that was specifically built for mobile searches called mobile first indexing.
To ensure your website is optimized fully for the mobile search, including mobile-first indexing by Google, you need to cover five areas.
What does Mobile Friendly Mean?
Mobile friendly refers to a site that displays accurately between your desktop/laptop computer and a mobile device such as a phone or tablets.
With other words, it will resize itself and adapt according to the device used to view it.
Ensuring your website is mobile friendly is critical. As of 2019, the percentage of mobile users is quickly rising and surpassed the desktop usage.
What does Mobile Optimization Mean?
All mobile-optimized websites are mobile-friendly, but not all mobile-friendly websites are mobile-optimized.
A mobile-optimized website will reformat itself for mobile users.
What does Mobile Responsive Design Mean?
Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design that makes web pages render well on a variety of devices and window or screen sizes. Mobile-optimization only does this for mobile devices.
Here are some very important rules to consider when optimizing for mobile search:
Mobile Searchers Use Shorter Keyphrases/Keywords
Mobile users search for shorter keyphrases, or even just for keywords. Very often the search query is limited to only 2 or even 1 words. If you don’t rank well for shorter keyphrases, then you will be missing a lot of mobile traffic.
Mobile Search Is Mainly Local Search
Mobile users search mostly for local things. In addition to shorter search keyphrases, mobile searchers are also locally targeted. It is easy to understand – when a user is waiting for the taxi and is looking for a place to dinner, it is most likely looking for things in the neighborhood.
Follow Mobile Standards
If you are not familliar you can check the guidelines of W3C to see what the current mobile standards are. Even if your site doesn’t comply with mobile standards, it will still be listed in search results but it will be transcoded by the search engine and the result won’t be pleasant to see.
Don't Forget Meta.txt
Meta.txt is a special file, where you briefly describe the contents of your site and point the user agent to the most appropriate version for it. Search engine spiders directly index the meta.txt file.
Even if the rest of your site is not accessible, you will still be included in search results. Meta.txt is similar to robots.txt in desktop search but it also has some similarity with metatags because you can put content in it.
Predictive Search Is Popular With Mobile Searchers
Google tends to place other factors above site speed, but while it’s not the number one factor, if your site loads slowly it’s definitely something you will want to address.
Use phrases, which are common in predictive search. Predictive search is also popular with mobile searchers because it saves typing effort. This is why, if your keywords are among the common predictive search results, this seriously increases your chances to be found.
Preview Your Site on Mobile Devices
Always check how your site looks on a mobile device. It is not possible to check your site on absolutely every single device you can think of, but if you can check it at least on the most important ones, this will be helful.
Transcoding is one reason why a site gets distorted, so it is really a good idea to make your site mobile-friendly instead of to rely on search engines to transcode it and make it a design nightmare in the process.
Testing your site on mobile devices can be time-consuming and expensive due to the vast number of different mobile devices. You can always use online tool to save you time and help you preview your website on different mobile devices and platforms.