Mobile SEO is an increasingly important factor in positioning your website in search results. Because in 2022, 58% of all page views worldwide were already made via mobile devices. So it’s only obvious to take care of the mobile version of your website in the best possible way as well.

Google did not switch to mobile-first indexing without reason, because they recognized early on the importance that mobile content will play.

Therefore, we explain how to use mobile search engine optimization to improve your website’s ranking in search engines and increase usability for mobile users.

The mobile SEO checklist

Here is a checklist that will help you with your website’s mobile search engine optimization:

  • How many visitors use mobile devices to access your website? Measure the bounce rate and the conversion or event rate of mobile visits to find out how satisfied users are with your offer.

  • Focus your mobile website on ease of use, simple layout and low loading times
  • Make sure that the design of your mobile site doesn’t deviate too much from the desktop version so that returning users don’t experience a break in the design.
  • Regularly check the user-friendliness of your mobile website in Google Search Console

  • Test the mobile version of your website with different end devices, i.e. with different smartphones, tablets as well as operating systems

What is Mobile SEO?

In short, mobile SEO is there to ensure the usability of your website on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

To improve the appearance of your mobile website, there are different approaches. However, this primarily includes responsive web design, optimizing images and media, and improving loading speed.

Why is mobile search engine optimization important?

As mentioned at the beginning, more than half of all page views are now made via mobile devices. So, if you want to be attractive for as many potential customers as possible, it is inevitable not to deal with mobile search engine optimization of your website.

In addition, Google primarily checks the mobile version of your website, for example, and evaluates it for indexing and positioning in the search results. This means without a well mobile optimized website, it will be hard for you to achieve good rankings in search results.

The configuration of your mobile website

The first step to a mobile friendly website is to choose the right configuration.

There are four options to choose from: The responsive web design, dynamic serving or a separate URL. The fourth option is more suitable for large e-commerce companies. This is because they could also rely on their own app to reach mobile users.

Responsive web design Dynamic Serving Separate URL
Advantages
  • Better user experience
  • Better SEO
  • Available at the same URL
  • Cost-effective
  • Different content possible for each end device
  • Desktop version remains
  • All configurations under one URL
  • Flexibility
  • Desktop variant remains
  • Free design of both versions
Disadvantages
  • Can become confusing
  • Possibly slower loading times
  • Greater difficulty to design the layout
  • Not all functions are available
  • More expensive maintenance
  • More time-consuming adjustment of layouts
  • Possible problems with the indexing of the website
  • Higher costs
  • High effort
  • Duplicate content
  • Management of two domains
  • Many potential sources of error

Responsive web design

With responsive web design, your website is designed to automatically adapt to the user’s screen size. As a result, on any device the website is displayed optimally and without problems.

This is solved by the use of CSS media queries, whereby the correct display sizes are stored for each screen size. A concrete example here are embedded images on your website.

These can be deposited thereby in different sizes. The browser then selects the appropriate size for the current screen when loading the page.

Advantages

  1. Improved usability: A responsive website is easy to use on any device because it automatically adapts to the screen width.
  2. Improved search engine optimization: Search engines prefer websites that are optimized for mobile devices. A responsive website meets these requirements, which can help it rank better in search results.
  3. No need for separate mobile websites: With responsive web design, you don’t need to create and maintain a separate mobile website. Instead, you can have a single website that works well on all devices.
  4. Cost savings: Since you don’t have to create and maintain a separate mobile website, you can save costs that would otherwise be incurred to maintain and operate multiple websites.

Disadvantages

  1. The page may become cluttered on smaller screens: When a web page is displayed on a very small screen, the layout can become cluttered, especially if the web page contains a lot of content.
  2. The page may load more slowly: Because responsive web design is designed to adapt to different screen widths, the browser may need to load more CSS styles to adjust the layout. This may cause the page to load slower.
  3. It can be more difficult to design the layout: The design of a responsive website needs to adapt to different screen widths, which means that sometimes it can be more difficult to design the layout so that it looks good on all devices.
  4. It can be more difficult to deliver specific features: If you want to deliver specific features or content only to mobile devices, this can be more difficult with responsive web design because all devices display the same content.

Dynamic Serving

Dynamic Serving, means that the HTML code is adapted to the device used. By detecting the user agent (terminal device), it is possible for the server to deliver different content.

This allows you to offer individual user experiences to users from different devices without the need for a complete redesign. The difference with responsive web design is that the content is not the same for all devices and adapts more than the layout.

Advantages

  1. The ability to display different content for different devices: Dynamic Serving lets you display different versions of content for different devices. This can be helpful, for example, if you want to provide specific features or content for mobile devices that are not available on desktop computers.
  2. The desktop version does not need to be changed: Thanks to the dynamic provision of the appropriate content for all end devices, no changes need to be made to your desktop version. This means that you don’t have to sacrifice the desktop version because of the mobile version.
  3. All configurations on one URL: The dynamic content is accessible via only one URL, since the end device is used to decide which content is delivered.
  4. Flexibility: Dynamic serving offers more flexibility than responsive web design because you can deliver specific content to different devices.

Disadvantages

  1. More complex maintenance: Dynamic serving requires you to create and maintain separate versions of content for different devices. This can be more costly than maintaining a single responsive website.
  2. Difficulty in adjusting the layout: with dynamic serving, you have to manually adjust the layout of the website for different devices, whereas with responsive web design, this happens automatically. This can be more difficult and take more time.
  3. Possible problems with indexing: If the versions for the end devices differ greatly and or the automatic detection does not always work, this can complicate the indexing of your website. Because crawlers may then not capture your website correctly.
  4. Cost: Dynamic serving can be more expensive because you may need to spend more time and resources maintaining different versions of the content.

Separate URL

Another option is to display the mobile version of your website on a subdomain, for example m.beispieldomain.de. In the best case, rebuild the entire URL structure again on the subdomain and design it solely for mobile devices.

This way you can freely design the mobile variant of your website independently from the desktop version. It is important to ensure that this does not result in duplicate content and that a canonical tag is set for a variant.

Advantages

  1. Desktop page does not need to be customized: If you use a subdomain for the mobile version, no changes need to be made to your desktop version. So you don’t have to make any compromises with the desktop version.
  2. Free design of both versions: With the use of a subdomain, you have the possibility to freely design both versions and adapt them to the users’ needs.

Disadvantages

  1. High effort: Both versions must be created separately and the maintenance of both versions is much more time-consuming, since adjustments must always be made to both domains.
  2. Duplicate content: Generally, if you opt for a separate mobile version, you will create duplicate content. To avoid this, you need to pay attention to the correct technical implementation.
  3. Two domains need to be managed: If you choose this option, you will always have to take care of and manage two domains, which will result in higher operating costs for your website.
  4. Many potential sources of error: When creating two separate URLs, there is a lot to consider and some technical hurdles that need to be overcome to avoid any disadvantages for you in search.

Which approach is best for you depends on your specific needs and goals. However, in general, responsive web design is the recommended choice as it improves usability and simplifies maintenance. Also from Google side the responsive web design is recommended.

Is your website smartphone friendly?

You can test whether your website is optimized for mobile devices in different ways. Currently, you still have the possibility to check your domain using the Google Test Tool. However, this will be discontinued at the end of 2023.

mobile freindly

But don’t worry, Google now offers you many other ways to determine if mobile SEO is necessary for your website.

For example, in Google Search Console, under the user experience section, you can get indications in various dashboards if your mobile website has any major shortcomings.

In addition, you also have the ability to use Lighthouse to determine if the mobile version of your website needs to be optimized and if so, what the explicit issues are.

Mobile First or User First?

In search engine optimization, user first always applies. However, this does not mean that mobile SEO should be ignored. Because when you prioritize your website users, mobile search engine optimization automatically goes along with it.

But at the same time, that means you can’t forget about desktop users. Specifically, this means, for example, that you should always have a navigation bar on the desktop version and not a hamburger menu like on the mobile version.

After all, the user experience on mobile devices is just as important as that on desktop computers. After all, you want all users to be able to navigate your website well at all times and have a good experience throughout.

Mobile websites should meet the following:

  • Be provided via HTTPS

  • Good core web vitals have

  • Use a readable font size
  • Display buttons large enough

  • Use optimized images

  • Include links with enough space between them (A proven space between two links is 28 pixels).

  • Include a search function

  • Avoid pop-ups and unnecessary ads and banners

Conclusion: Mobile SEO is SEO

Mobile SEO is an important factor in improving the visibility and usability of a website on mobile devices. It involves optimizing factors such as the loading speed and user-friendliness of your website.

Due to the increasing use of mobile devices, it is therefore important that you as a company also optimize your website for this in order to increase visibility and traffic.

However, you must not forget that mobile search engine optimization is only a part of the overall SEO and that does not mean to fully focus only on this version of your website.

Therefore, it is also worth investing in mobile search engine optimization, as long as it happens as part of an overall SEO strategy.

Über den Autor

Senior SEO Manager at UnitedAds | + posts

Felicitas Bürger ist Senior SEO Managerin bei UnitedAds. Sie entwickelt ganzheitliche SEO Strategien für Kunden und betreut diese bei der Optimierung ihrer Websites.

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