If you own a local business and are looking to increase your search engine rankings and online visibility, first and foremost on your list should be ensuring that your website is optimized for mobile search. Mobile search traffic continues to grow and 78% of local mobile searches result in offline purchases! If your site isn’t set up for mobile searching, you are missing out on VERY valuable traffic. So how can you ensure that your site is mobile-friendly? We’ve outlined the key aspects of your site that you need to consider to make it mobile-friendly and improve your local SEO.
If you have website built on the WordPress platform, almost all of the themes out there are responsive out of the box. That being said, it’s always a good idea to see what the theme looks like on mobile devices by checking out the demo version or viewing your own site on a smartphone (you might be surprised!). If you use a website builder like Wix or Squarespace for your site, they are also built to be responsive. Depending on your industry, you may have significantly more mobile traffic than desktop traffic. In this case, you might want to consider your mobile website design first and then look at your desktop version. For example, if you have a restaurant, chances are, the majority of your search traffic likely comes from mobile devices, so your priority should be on how the site looks and performs on smartphones and tablets.
Keep it simple when it comes to the design of your site on mobile devices! Use fonts that are easy to read– especially on smaller screens. Avoid overly scripted and decorative fonts if possible, and opt for a combination of easy-to-read serif and sans serif fonts. In order for text to be easily read on smaller screens, use at least 16-18px for your font size. It’s also a good idea to use a color palette with 4-5 colors and no more. Too many colors is distracting for the website visitor and can affect the accessibility of your site. Use contrasting colors for text and background for easy reading and accessibility. There is a reason most sites use a white background and black text!
White space is your friend, so make sure that content is not too cluttered as it can make it hard to read on a small screen. Use a mix of headings, images and text and utilize bullets to call out important content. Most mobile searchers will skim your site, so make the content easily digestible and optimized for scrolling!
Loading time is a huge factor in mobile search user experience, and Google is prioritizing it in its rankings moving forward. There’s nothing more frustrating than clicking over to a site from search results and having the site take FOREVER to load! Many search users will not be patient and will bounce from your site, and this will have an adverse effect on you search engine ranking.
One of the most common reasons that sites are slow in loading (you can test your site speed using Google PageSpeed Insights) is due to large image files. If you have a WordPress website, the good news is that there are many plugins that will allow you to lazy load images and compress and optimize images to keep your site loading quickly. If you use a website builder like Squarespace, these options will not be available to you. That being said, you can still make sure that you are uploading any images in the exact size specified for your site and NO larger.
If you upload larger sized images, the site then has to load the large image and resize it for your site which will make your site SLOW! You may also want to consider serving images in WebP format (superior lossless and lossy compression) which is allow you to create smaller, richer images that are, on average, 26% smaller than PNG files.
Having a fast, reliable host is one of the BEST things you can do for your website when it comes to mobile search. The old adage that “you get what you pay for” applies to web hosting too. If your hosting plan is really inexpensive, you are most likely sharing a server with A LOT of other sites and this can result in slow load times. SiteGround (affiliate link) is a great option that we recommend to clients for reliable, quick hosting and fabulous customer support.
The level of hosting you need is also something to consider when it comes to speed. Take a look at your Google Analytics to see how many sessions your site gets in an average month (look at the past 6 months). If your site has been slow, it may be that your level of hosting is not capable of keeping up with the number of sessions you get monthly, and you will need to move up to the next level. If you need help determining which plan is best for your website, SiteGround can help you figure that out as well! If you have an existing site that is hosted with another provider, they are also very helpful with migrating your site to their servers.
As we mentioned above, having a site that is clunky and cluttered makes for an overwhelming experience for your mobile search user. Smartphone screens are pretty small, so make sure the content is streamlined, easy-to-read, and not full of information that is irrelevant or could be located elsewhere (not on your home page). It should be really clear how a search user can find the information they need, so have your navigation menu placed at the top right, left or center at the top of your site (preferably using a hamburger menu– the 3 stacked lines that symbolize the navigation menu on mobile devices).
Most mobile users will scroll, so be strategic about where you put the most important information and try to limit the extensive use of text as most will swipe right by it! Ideally, each page of your site should have a call to action (what you want the user to do next), and this is even more important with the limited real estate provided by smartphone screens. Make it clear what the next step is for the mobile search user. Do you want them to schedule a call, book a session, download a PDF? Whatever it is, make sure it’s in an obvious place and it’s clear what the user should do next. Also keep in mind that buttons need to be large enough to click easily with a finger on a small screen! 😉
At Seaside Digital Design & Marketing, we are happy to help you ensure that your site is optimized for mobile search. This is especially important if you are a local business. As a local SEO agency, we assess areas for improvement and fix them! This is best accomplished in an SEO Virtual VIP Day. If you prefer to DIY it, we invite you to schedule a Local SEO Power Hour to get our recommendations for what you should address. We love hearing from readers, so if you have any questions, we welcome you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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