How to Improve Your WP Site’s Search Rankings on Mobile?

With nearly 60% of searches coming from mobile devices, you simply cannot ignore mobile SEO for your WordPress site. In fact, it should be your topmost priority. If you want your WP site to be found more often in mobile searches, then you have to not only improve its performance but also provide an excellent mobile experience.

In this article, we’ll look at the steps you can take to make your wordpress site mobile-search friendly

When is a site mobile-friendly?

A site becomes mobile-friendly when it:
1. Loads really fast on mobile devices
2. Loads properly on smartphones and tablets, without giving any errors
3. Displays content in a ready-to-read format, without requiring users to zoom or pinch
4. Has a lot of room to navigate/scroll by touch
5. Is easily understandable for search engines
6. Offers additional value for mobile users

Why is Mobile-SEO essential?

Mobile SEO ensures that your site adapts well to mobile devices and offers the best user experience to smartphone users. Since majority of people are becoming mobile-oriented, it’s essential that your site is mobile-friendly.

The thing is mobile SEO is quite different from traditional SEO, it is more than link building and keyword optimization. If you don’t execute the specific steps required to optimize your site for mobiles, it won’t rank well in mobile search results and consequently you’ll lose valuable traffic to your site.

Since 2017, Google has adopted mobile-first indexing, meaning it has started using the mobile version of website to determine website rankings. So if your website is not mobile-friendly or if your mobile site provides less content than the desktop pages, then it can hurt your rankings. If you don’t have a mobile version of your site, or if your site is not responsive then here’s a great guide by Google to help you get started.

How to Make Your WP Site Mobile-Friendly?

Make your site responsive

Although there are multiple ways to customize your site for mobile users, Google recommends that you use a responsive website design. With responsive design, you don’t need to create additional pages or URLs for your mobile site, all the content stays on the same page, making it easy for Googlebot to understand and index it.

Instead of coding responsive CSS styles on your own, the easiest way to make your website responsive is to pick a responsive WordPress theme. No matter which theme you use, test it’s responsiveness using Chrome Developer tools.

Improve your site speed

Improving site speed is one of the most effective ways to boost mobile SEO for your website. Did you know that 53% of people leave your website if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds? It is for the same reason, Google has launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project. Here are 4 ways to improve your load speed:

1. Optimize Images – If there’s one easy way to improve your site speed it’s this: optimize your images. Don’t load high-resolution images on your site. Scale them to the required size using tools like ImageOptim or WordPress plugins such as WP Smush
2. Minify Code – Every time your website loads a file, it will slow down your load speed. The key is to reduce these requests by concatenating CSS and Javascript assets into a few files. You don’t have to it on your own though. Plugins like WP Rocket can take care of your code minification needs.
3. Browser caching – Enable browser caching to tell the browser to store the page elements that don’t change often (such as images, css, and javascript files) in its cache. This way it doesn’t have to download these files every time people visit your site. Again WP Rocket can take care of this for you.
4. Reduce redirects – A redirect takes the visitor from one page to another, because the original page has been moved or deleted. Although this provides a good user experience, it can slow down your load speed if you overdo it. Also, instead of adding redirects to handle broken/moved links, use tools like Broken Link Checker to identify them and update their URLs to directly point to the new pages.

Don’t block Javascript, CSS and HTML

Blocking critical page elements such as Javascript, CSS and HTML makes it difficult for Google to access your site. As a result, Google will index significantly less content from your site, leading to lower rankings. Always check your Google Search Console to see if you’re blocking these resources.

Make it easy to read

Ensure that your mobile site is legible on mobile devices. View your site on various devices to see if its typography is in order. You can also simulate various mobile devices using Chrome Developer Tools to test how your site looks on each device.

Size Tap Targets Appropriately

It’s annoying for users when they can’t tap a button, link or menu without hitting the wrong place, because they’re too small or placed too close to each other. Small or tightly packed buttons and links can make it difficult for users to accurately tap the right target. So the tap targets must be made sufficiently large and placed far from other targets so that users can press them without accidentally hitting the wrong target. Here’s a guide about how Google recommends to size your tap targets.

Choose the right viewport

Viewport sets the page width according to the device. Specify the right viewport so that users can see the right version of your page on their devices. Otherwise, you might end up showing your desktop site to a smartphone user. Here’s how you can set the correct viewport for your site.

Don’t use popups or interstitials

Google has already started penalizing websites that show large, annoying popups or interstitials to promote newsletters, show ads and display email signup forms. They prevent use from accessing the promised content on your site and provide a bad user experience. Avoid them as much as possible.

Test Your Site

Before you start doing mobile SEO, test your site for mobile-friendliness using a free tool provided by Google. It will analyze your site and highlight all the areas of improvement. This will give you a good idea where to start. Even after you make the recommended changes, test your site to ensure that you’ve covered all the points. Also, submit your site via Search Console. This will tell Google that your site has been updated so it can re-crawl and index your site properly.

Look into Google AMP

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a new project by Google to help websites optimize their content, by making them to load super fast on mobile devices. By adding a special HTML code, you can tell Google to cache your pages and present it in a stripped-down manner that loads instantly. You can start by installing the official AMP Plugin by WordPress. Although it’s relatively new, it’s growing rapidly with most major publishers and news sites adopting it.

To summarize the above points, here’s a checklist you can keep handy to boost your site’s mobile SEO:
1. Ensure your site is responsive
2. Improve your site speed
3. Don’t block HTML, Javascript and CSS code
4. Don’t use popups and interstitials
5. Avoid using too many redirects
6. Use the correct viewport settings
7. Verify mobile-friendliness using Chrome Developer Tools
8. Submit your site to Google

Wrapping it up

Mobile search is the future, and you need to make your wordpress mobile site not only perfect for Google but also your visitors. Mobile SEO is not only about creating great content with a good technical presentation but also about delivering an amazing user experience. The above mobile SEO tips will make your wordpress site mobile-friendly and enable it to rank higher in mobile search results.

Author Bio:

For more than 8 years, Sreeram Sreenivasan has worked with various Fortune 500 Companies in areas of Business Intelligence, Sales & Marketing Strategy. He regularly writes at Fedingo about a wide range of business growth & marketing topics. He’s also the Founder & CEO of Ubiq BI, a cloud-based BI Platform for SMBs & Enterprises.