How to carry out a mobile SEO audit on your site

You don’t need us to tell you about the importance of mobile. You already know about the mobile-first index and that mobile constitutes more than 50% of all website traffic.

So instead, we’re going to tell you what to do about it. Mobile optimization should be an integral part of your SEO strategy, and it goes beyond just checking whether your site passes Google’s Mobile Friendly test.

In order to cover off all the factors involved in achieving the ultimate mobile-optimized website, it is necessary to carry out a mobile SEO audit on your site.

In this post, we explain the key components of a comprehensive mobile SEO audit. From keywords and UX through to handy tools and content, you’ll be dominating the mobile SERPs in no time at all.

Mobile keyword strategy

Due to the nature of mobile searches, users typically use different search queries on mobile than on desktop. When typing in a query, search terms tend to be shorter and less wordy, as speed and accessibility are key on mobile.

Aside from query length, there is also a greater emphasis on local searches. People using mobile for searching are often on the move, hence the need to focus more heavily on a local search strategy.

Another aspect to factor in is voice search. With the recent proliferation of devices offering voice activated services, it is becoming an increasingly popular method of searching. Optimizing for voice search should therefore be an integral part of any SEO strategy.

Rather frustratingly, in contrast to our advice about utilizing shorter terms for mobile searches, voice searches tend to be longer and more conversational. It is therefore necessary to achieve a balance between these different strands of the mobile search realm.

Remember that you can find out which keywords searchers are using on different devices via Google Search Console. Within your Search Analytics, select ‘mobile’ under the Devices dropdown. Google Search Console data is never fully comprehensive, but it is nevertheless useful as a guide and for a touch of inspiration in the research phase.

Google Search Console

On the topic of Google Search Console, be sure to make use of the various tools available through this platform:

  • Check any mobile crawl errors by selecting the ‘Smartphone’ tab under ‘Crawl Errors’.
  • Fetch and Render on both desktop and mobile within the ‘Fetch as Google’ section.
  • Identify any major errors by viewing the resulting renders to learn how the crawlers see your site.
  • Check the ‘Mobile Usability’ report to learn which pages have usability issues on mobile and the nature of the problems.

There is a bit of debate as to whether you should submit a separate mobile XML sitemap to Google Search Console. In short, as long as your site utilizes responsive design then there should be no need to do so.

If, however, you have two separate versions of your site – one for desktop and one for mobile – then it may be worth submitting a separate mobile XML sitemap. Do also remember to check any redirects are working correctly if this is the case. However, we would always recommend responsive design as the most effective in terms of a mobile-friendly and SEO-appropriate user experience.

Site speed on mobile

It goes without saying that site speed is absolutely crucial. This is especially true on mobiles, due to the combination of less power and a reliance on data over wifi.

Your first port of call should be Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which helpfully provides a list of recommendations to improve your site speed on mobile. Follow these as closely as possible, without sacrificing the overall look of your site.

If mobile site speed is causing you headaches then you may want to consider an AMP plugin. Accelerated Mobile Pages is a result of a collaboration between Google and Twitter, with the aim of quickly optimizing mobile pages. We’d need a whole series of blog posts to cover off this topic, so we’re going to stick to the subject in hand for now.

However, when you get a minute (hour), spend it reading up on AMP, as it is definitely worth your time and consideration.

Design & user experience

Deploying responsive web design is by far the most effective way of ensuring a top-notch user experience across multiple device types. You may even want to consider mobile-first design; given that over half of all website traffic is via mobile, it makes sense to prioritize it over desktop.

There are a whole myriad of factors which contribute to a mobile-friendly user experience, but here’s a top-line checklist to get you started:

  • Make navigation as smooth and intuitive as possible. Consider those of us with a larger than average thumb and finger surface area to contend with…
  • Check above-the-fold content on mobile – ensure that the most important elements are there and not cut off midway.
  • Avoid the use of pop-ups on mobile as they can be difficult to exit and a source of frustration for the user. Plus, they slow load speed.
  • Remove any use of Flash on the site, as they can cause loading issues on mobile.
  • Make any videos responsive so that the screen adapts to the phone size. Use HTML5 video player, as it makes rendering on mobile easier.
  • Check that the mobile and desktop designs match up for consistency.

Finally, don’t forget to test, test, test. And not just on your iPhone. Test with both iOS and Android, as well as various different tablets. Cover as many types, sizes and browsers as you can to ensure a seamless user experience for everybody.

Written content

Determining how much written content to feature on your site can be tricky. We all know that long form content can be incredibly valuable to an SEO campaign, but mobile users generally don’t have the capacity to consume larger volumes of content. What’s the best way to resolve this dilemma?

We recommend avoiding overly wordy content on the key pages of the site, saving the longer form content for blog posts. Do not use this as an excuse to skimp on copy across the site though, as informative and valuable copy is still important for ranking purposes. Feature the key information in the first paragraph or two so that mobile users can access what they need quickly and efficiently.

It’s all about balance and a handy way of judging how much content is necessary is to keep an eye on the bounce rates of key pages. If users are prepared to spend a solid amount of time on any given page then there’s no need to go chopping that content. If users are bouncing pretty quick, then it’s worth reviewing the content.

Reporting & tracking

As with any digital marketing campaign, tracking and reporting is integral to the process. Remember to consult your Google Analytics data to measure and track your mobile traffic. Use this data to guide your audit, helping you to make informed decisions with regards to the implementation.

Consider the proportion of traffic via mobile, as well as the behavior of mobile users. Monitor whether there are any changes to this data following the implementation of your mobile audit.

With any luck, you’ll see the proportion of mobile users increase, the bounce rate decrease, a better user flow and higher conversions as a result.

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