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Ian Blair

How To Improve Your Mobile Search Rankings By 117%

Your customers are mobile…

Is your business?

The mobile market share is huge. Before you read further, let’s consider a few statistics that might interest you:

Out of the world’s 4 billion mobile phone in use, 1.08 billion are smartphones and a whopping 3.05 billion are sms enabled.

Data from Anchor Mobile shows that more than 50% of local searches happen on a mobile phone. Isn’t that wonderful?

Mobile is the trending communication channel right now. 3 out of 5 searches are done using a mobile phone. In this in-depth article, you’ll learn how to make your content pages more visible on mobile search. It’s a lot easier than you think.

mobile online searches

What if I show you step-by-step how you can boost your mobile search rankings by 117%, would you jump at it?

I bet you will.

Listen up: creating a richer mobile experience for your prospects may be the only step you’ve to take to convert them into customers.  

It hurts…

You saw a valuable tweet on your Twitter feed. You were excited because finally you’ve found the information that has kept you stuck in the corner.

To save time, you quickly clicked on the link to read the content. Sadly, you landed on a broken homepage. In other words, the navigation menu bar isn’t above the fold, and the sidebar is right in the middle of the page.

You’re pissed off and reassure yourself you’ll just visit the site later but you never remember…

If you can relate with the short story, you’ve got to understand that’s how your ideal customers feel when they search for information in Google, only to arrive at a site that’s not mobile friendly or responsive.

The future of the web is mobile. For starters, there are 3.65 billion unique global mobile users.

When it comes to gauging the effectiveness of your online marketing, mobile search should be your focus. In US, Mobile digital media time is now significantly higher at 51% compared to desktop (42%).

Mobile-Internet-Trends-Mary-Meeker

According to Search Engine Land, “Mobile Search Queries 29% of Growth Modest.” This shows that mobile searches increases as Google discovers unique search terms that have never been searched before.

When it comes to mobile search, one important thing you’ve to know is that search query percentage doesn’t line up with overall search volume.  

Getting started with mobile search optimization

According to Moz, “Mobile optimization takes a look at site design, site structure, site speed, and action steps you take to make your pages display properly in mobile devices, so that you can deliver the best user experience.” In turn, this helps mobile prospects to make smart decisions.

mobile decision making

Searches on Google have gone mobile. While delivering a presentation at the Recode Mobile Conference, Mr. Amit Singhal, senior vice president of search at Google said that, “search as we think about it is basically the manner you will interact with computing.”

“Computing may live in a 4-to-6-inch device, it may live in a desktop, it may live on a 1-inch round device.”

It doesn’t matter what business model you run online, you’re typically interacting with people (your ideal customers).  

The question is no longer where can I find my customers? They’re primarily mobile users. A better question to ask is “how do I bring them to my site?”


What can you do to tap into the wealth of mobile search? Better yet, how do you make your site more visibility on mobile search platforms, so that the right people will find it?

Making your site display well on mobile devices is no longer an option, but a necessity. Because you really can’t do without it. Learn to configure your site for multiple devices and searches.

The quicker you can make your site mobile responsive and ensure Google understands it, the quicker Google can rank your web pages higher in their organic results pages.

The challenge most B2B and B2C marketers have is optimizing their web pages and content for mobile users.

Truth is, mobile devices are considered so personal – you see it when you go to bed, and when you wake up your mobile phone is right beside you.

A study by Bootcamp Digital shows that, “25% of online searches are done on a mobile device. And Americans spend on average, 2 hours a day on a mobile device.”

Mobile-Marketing-Stats-2014

 

The state of mobile search

By now, mobile domination is not strange. But still unknown is how fast and reliable it will continue to be for online marketers.

On the SEM side, mobile has a high CTR and low CPC. This has given marketers the confidence to invest more into mobile pay per click campaigns. These marketers are certain that mobile will redefine contextual advertising in 2016.

Although IBM has reported that mobile conversion rates are roughly half of that of their desktop counterpart, other brands have seen a consistent growth in their mobile search conversions.

In 2015 and beyond, The State of Mobile Search 2015 reported that mobile optimization should be aimed at delivering a more memorable user experience through a multi-channel marketing.

user experience

 

User experience should come first. Because if users are happy, they’ll personally ask/request to learn more. At that moment, you can recommend a useful product to them.

When you look at the relevance of mobile search, you need to go beyond the impact of mobile across digital channels, but also how mobile affects search user behavior.

You should collect related data about user experience, conversions rates and ad spends.

 

Mobile friendly algorithm factor

On April 21, 2015 Google gave much credence to mobile consumers. Because in Google’s data bank, mobile users were a force (or rather a revolution) that impacted the search.

To that effect, a significant new mobile-friendly ranking algorithm that’s designed to give a boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results was adopted.

According to Google Webmasters Blog:

We’re boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. Now searchers can more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling.

mobile update

The effect of this new ranking factor was huge. Sadly, most authority sites saw a drop in organic rankings, not only for mobile but also desktop users. Reddit.com lost 27% of its mobile search visibility, and Boxofficemojo.com lost 33%.

Google mobile friendly losers

On the other hand, some other sites saw a significant boost in mobile search rankings and traffic, by simply optimizing their web pages for mobile users.

Authority sites like foreignpolicy.com increased their mobile search visibility by 83%, while foreignaffairs.com saw a 771% inprovement in search performance.

The most important thing to remember is that before you try to improve your mobile search rankings and drive more organic traffic, first, you need to optimize your web pages to be mobile friendly.

Is your site mobile friendly?

Let’s quickly find out in few steps:

i).  First step: Go to Google Mobile-friendly test tool. Input your site URL (e.g. contentmarketingup.com) into the search bar. Then click the “ANALYZE” button:

Google mobile friendly tool

ii).   Second step: Wait for your site to be analyzed.

site analyzed

iii).   Third step: Check the status of your site by looking at this:

site friendly update

Next, here’s the actual screenshot showing that your site is mobile friendly.

mobile friendly image

If peradventure your site isn’t mobile friendly, there are few tweaks you can implement to quickly get it right. If you’re a WordPress user, you can install the WPtouch plugin – to help format your pages automatically.

For more in-depth study, the guides below will be helpful:

Ten Ways To Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

9 Tips To Creating A Mobile-Friendly Website

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Understanding technical SEO

The change, which can happen when you make your pages mobile friendly is enormous. But it may not be sustained until you understand and optimize the technical aspect of your site.

Technical SEO is critical to the future success of your site. Improving your mobile search rankings is not as difficult as you might think. If you do it right, your site is supposed to attract more mobile users especially those who use search engines to look for information.

I know that when people hear the word “technical,” they become scared because of the implications. But you don’t have to.

Technical SEO in this respect simply refers to the fundamental SEO that you do outside of your content. It’s about laying a solid foundation for your content, strengthening your keywords in order to increase its chances of ranking highly in Google.

technical SEO

Truth be told: if you ignore technical SEO and only concentrate on creating useful content, you’ll be surprised to know that your ideal customers are not just looking for good content, but also a great experience.

Great sites simply add value to people’s lives.

They might not have the best content, but the experience the users leave and live with thrills them, and keeps bringing them back.

The web is fast evolving. In turn, people’s attention span is decreasing daily, due to the enormous amount of information on the internet. You’ve got to capture the user’s attention before they switch to your competitor.

Some of the technical SEO that will impact your mobile search rankings tremendously are:

i).   Site speed: This is pretty obvious – if your site is slow, people will not stay there. Always remember that people are impatient, especially when they’re seeking for information online through their mobile phones.

They know there are thousands of other sites with better information than the snail-loading site. So why waste their time here?

First, site speed is one of the important Google’s ranking factors. It carries so much value. Site speed was first announced in 2010.

At the time, it affected a small percentage of sites’ rankings. You already know, the “time-to-first-byte” (TTFB) correlates highly with rankings.

site speed median time

TTFB is the amount of time required for a browser to load the first byte of your page’s data.

Site speed is critical to your mobile search rankings. Even if your web pages are showing up in Google’s first page, if the browser can’t load the first bye of your page’s data with 3 seconds, you stand a chance of losing 40% of your visitor.

Further, 47% of polled consumers prefer a site that’s fast – loads up within 2 seconds. There is a reason why people came to your site, and ‘slowness’ isn’t one of them. Be quick to respond to the needs of your customers. Stop slowing them down.

Sadly, if people click on your mobile search result and the page doesn’t load properly within 3 seconds, they’ll click the “back” button and choose a different search result.

In this SEO world, this is known as pogo-sticking, and it’s one of the signals that you’ve not satisfied your site visitor.

pogosticking

Who knows, this site visitor would have subscribed to your email list, become a high-paying customer, shared your content, or tell others about your awesome offer.

You can never tell. That’s why it’s important to increase your site speed. Because to a large extent, site speed is the first impression that site visitors see. From there, they can make decisions to stay put and learn more, or quit.

Let’s find out your site’s average load time. Remember, it has to be 2 seconds or less for your site to qualify:

i).   First step:  Go to Pingdom speed test tool. On the homepage, input your site URL (e.g. buildfire.com) into the search bar. Click the “Test Now” button:

pingdom test tool

ii).  Second step: Analyze your site speed. The goal is to get a load time below 2 seconds.

speed test tool

There are so many things that might cause a site to load slowly. But it doesn’t matter what, you can do something about it.

Not too long ago, Zoompf conducted a study by analyzing the top 1,000 Alexa-ranked sites for site speed and performance and found that the following four problems were the most common:

  • unoptimized images
  • served content with proper HTTP compression
  • not using sprites to request CSS image requests
  • no caching information (expires header)

If after checking your site load time and you discover it’s above 2 seconds, here are simple things you can do to optimize it:

a).   Use fewer but vital plugins: If you’re a WordPress user, I can confidently tell you that some of your installed plugins are not activated.

Some are totally useless. As bloggers, we always like to install new fancy plugins – but it does our site load time much harm than good.

The quick fix you can do today is to log in to your WordPress dashboard > plugins > all plugins. Locate inactive plugins and delete them. The fact that you’ve not been using them since shows they’re not useful, so don’t active, but delete.

All things being equal, it doesn’t make sense to use more than one SEO plugin. It’s either you’re using Yoast SEO or All-in-one-SEO plugin.

Both of them do practically the same thing. Use fewer but vital WordPress plugins, and your site load time will improve. Better yet, log in to your FTP account and permanently delete the unused plugins.

b).   Use CDN for static files: Files are usually served from one server, usually your web host.

But when you use a content delivery network, your files will be stored on nearby servers so that when people from Canada (for example) visits your pages, a nearby server will serve your pages to them faster.

CDN improves site speed

Different IP blocks may conflict with each other if your site is hosted in US for example, and someone in Australia visits your web page from your mobile search results.

Sure, your page will open properly, but different protocols which were requested will slow down your site load time.

Majority of the popular sites and even small business sites use a CDN solution. That’s why their site loads very fast, sometimes within 60 seconds.

ii).   Site usability: Another important aspect of technical SEO is the overall site usability. The ease of use of your site is important. It’s not an alternative choice to make, but a necessity.

The real definition of site usability is its availability and accessibility. To understand this, some of the things that make up the definition are:

a).  Server uptime: If your server uptime is poor, there is no way you can enjoy the benefits of mobile search rankings. You can work hard, create the best content, build links and rank number #1 in Google organic listings, but it wouldn’t count.

Because the user might just land at your page and get pissed off because your site is not available. Unavailable sites have low usability score.

Don’t let that happen to you. Use a web host that has a reliable uptime. Of course, no web host can promise a 100% uptime rate. If you did, they’re probably lying to you.

Over the years, there are web hosting companies that have served internet entrepreneurs well, you should go with those. I recommend Hostgator, Bluehost or Outstandingsetup.com

b).   Broken links: It hurts. I clicked on a link on Mashable’s post and to my utmost surprise, it was broken. A broken link is also referred to as dead link. It doesn’t exist anymore.

broken link mashable

You can install a broken link checker WordPress plugin on your site. This will continually monitor your blog for any dead link and alert you instantly.

Broken links means that the referred web page is inaccessible, and the information you promised is unavailable. You were probably deceiving your site users. Avoid it.

c).   Mobile responsiveness: The last but not least is the responsiveness of your site. Mobile responsiveness is beyond designing a mobile friendly website.

You already know there are other mobile devices used by specialists such as law enforcement, doctors, engineers, and scientists.

Your site needs to adjust to suit every screen size. Mobile responsiveness is the new way of optimizing a page so that it displays on any screen automatically, giving users a great experience.

responsive design

Making your site crawlable is another important technical SEO you should never do without.

So you’ve got to create an XML sitemap of your site pages and submit to your Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmasters) account.

Your title tags, meta description and product pages needs to be optimized for search spiders. If you don’t do this, your best content may not be visible on mobile search results pages (MSRPs).

 

Create compelling content

The right content gets shared, and promoted. According to Curata, “29% of leading marketers systematically reuse and repurpose content.”

The more content you create, the better the quality of your writing gets. However, you should adopt an approach that puts users first.

Facebook is successful today, because Mark Zuckerberg uses the principle – “People First” to make smarter decisions.

users first facebook

Nothing hurts customers more than an article, a blog post, a video or podcast that doesn’t answer their questions.

Compelling content is the answer to customer’s questions. The truth is that no matter the topic you want to write about, tens of thousands if not millions of other writers have already created a better article.

But the question is, “do these content keep customers excited?”

Not all content is created equal. Some content are useful, but people soon click the “back” button and quit. But compelling content increases reader’s average time on site.

I’ve experienced it all. From publishing posts that no one reads to posts that get thousands of views, lots of social shares and hundreds of comments within 24 hours.

time on site

Putting in time and effort into writing a post and then getting an average time on page of 10 seconds is not a good feeling.

Google wants you to engage users. That’s the easiest way the search algorithm can be to your advantage.

Because an increased time on site tells Google that mobile search users are happy with your content. You’re probably doing something good.

Mobile users are always distracted by the latest app, platform or news. In the middle of a search, they can take a quick WhatsApp view, and before you know it they’re gone.

Use compelling content (content that answers their questions using the keywords they search for) to engage them.

When you increase the time users spend on your content pages, improve page views and reduce bounce rate, your mobile search rankings will follow suit. Because these user engagement metrics have a strong impact on search rankings.

Conclusion

Mobile users are unique in their search. Remember that the core of site usability is clarity. If you distract users, they’ll try to figure things out themselves and leave when the going gets tough (which usually happens).

Mobile consumers come to your site with a definite goal in mind. More often than not, improving mobile search rankings and getting a high click-through rate are not as difficult as you think, but converting these mobile-centered prospects into customers is the real challenge.

That’s why you need a funnel. Your funnel helps you capture the right people, build relationship based on the user behavior data that you have collected, and finally recommend your premium offers. 

So there you’ve it. How to make more money by improving your search rankings by 117% without manipulating search algorithms.

Your comment is appreciated. Do you currently attract mobile users to your site? If not, what are you struggling with?

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Ian Blair

BuildFire Co-Founder. I'm a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I'm here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.