Updated: April 16, 2021.
A mobile SEO strategy is now front and centre in the marketing industry as we enter a mobile-first world. If you are not yet using mobile SEO tools to optimise your website, you have some serious catching up to do.
In 2018, Google rolled out their mobile first indexing policy which means they are now crawling websites based on mobile instead of desktop content. Not only that, Google has been boosting mobile-friendly web pages on their search rankings and downranking slow-loading content. Web domains that are not mobile-friendly lose out on lead generation and potential sales.
Fortunately for you, we’re here to help you out with a comprehensive guide to the essential mobile SEO tools you will need to drive traffic to your site.
What is Mobile SEO and Why is It Important?
Mobile Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) refers to the process of optimising a website so your web pages rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). Mobile SEO helps drive organic traffic to your websites based on mobile searches.
Mobile SEO is important for the following reasons:
1. Mobile searches exceed desktop searches
All data point to a trend of growing mobile searches. In fact, mobile searches already surpassed desktop searches in 2015. This means that a mobile-optimised site is more likely to generate leads and attract customers.
2. Mobile users are increasing
Unique mobile users worldwide grew by 128 million in just one year. According to Statista, half of all website traffic worldwide are generated by mobile devices, excluding tablets. Increasing mobile usage means you need to adjust your marketing strategy to go where the consumers are which is on their phones and mobile devices.
3. Google search results prioritise mobile
As mentioned earlier, Google uses a “mobile first” approach in their indexing process, so without implementing mobile SEO, you risk low ranking or not showing up at all on the search results.
4. Mobile searches drive sales
Google’s think tank reported a 900+ percent growth in mobile searches for nearby establishments within a two-year period. Their data show that mobile searches are generally more urgent and as a result, half of the people who searched for local businesses visited a store within 24 hours compared to only 34 percent of desktop searches.
5. Mobile SEO improves user experience and adds credibility to your brand
A mobile optimized site is faster, looks better, and more responsive so users are more likely to stay and interact with your content. Better user experience ultimately makes users trust your brand more. It means you are following trends and responding to the changes needs of consumers.
Technical Factors of Mobile SEO
Before proceeding with the Mobile SEO audit and the best mobile SEO tools to use, you need to know the three basic configurations of a mobile website according to Google.
Responsive Web Design (RWD)
This website configuration is the most ideal for mobile SEO. It means both your html code and content remain the same regardless of the user’s device. If your website has this configuration, you simply need to add the meta name=”viewport” tag in your website’s source code so browsers can adjust content for the device and screen size.
RWD makes it easy to share your site with a single URL. Since it is recommended by Google, your web pages are indexed easily, crawled efficiently by Googlebot, and prioritised in SERP rankings. It also minimises SEO and formatting errors, and with no redirects, your pages will load faster.
With dynamic serving configurations, the server responds with different HTML and CSS code for the same URL depending on the device used. This means that you need to use the Vary HTTP header to implement adjustments according to a user-agent’s page request. Those valid headers essentially communicate to the browser how to effectively display the page content. This also enables Googlebot to index your site’s mobile-optimised content.
This configuration applies to websites with an “m” at the start of the URL, such as “m.website.com.” The subdomain indicated by the letter m means this is a separate URL typically created specifically for mobile browsing. While a good workaround, this is not a good configuration for mobile SEO. Mobile users who click on your link are basically redirected to the mobile version of the page you are visiting which can pose a lot of SEO problems, including duplicate content.
Instead of creating a mobile subdomain, aim to make your web domain mobile-friendly by choosing a web responsive web design and conducting a full mobile SEO analysis or audit of your site.
How to Conduct a Mobile SEO Analysis
First thing’s first, how do you know if your website is mobile-ready? You need to do a mobile SEO analysis and optimise accordingly. Here are the Mobile SEO auditing steps recommended by Twinword:
1. Make sure you have a responsive web design
A responsive website design means it’s able to adapt its layout based on the device, whether it’s a smartphone or a tablet. This can be as easy as choosing the right template. Most WordPress templates are already mobile compatible and will provide a preview for mobile and tablet. To be sure, you can check the design for yourself on different devices so you can adjust your content accordingly.
2. Check your website’s loading speed
Slow-loading sites are ranked lower in the SERPs, so be sure to check for loading speed. To do this, you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Simply input the URL and click “Analyze.” It will show the speed for both the mobile and desktop versions. Based on the resulting speed score, you’ll find out if your website is Fast (100-90), Average (89-50), or Slow (49-0).
3. Use Google’s Search Console “Mobile Usability” tool
This Google tool checks websites if they are mobile friendly. On the Google Search Console, use the URL inspection tool and click “Mobile Usability.” This section shows you when the page was crawled and tells you whether it’s mobile-friendly or not.
In addition, clicking “Mobile Usability” on the sidebar will show you the issues effecting your site’s mobile usability. These features only work if your site has a responsive web design. If not, you can create XML sitemaps of the site URLs and submit them in the Search Console so these pages can be indexed.
4. Optimise your content
Your content should be updated using relevant keywords to increase your site’s searchability. You can use different keyword tools to get the latest keywords to incorporate. It’s also equally important to make sure your content is readable and free from grammatical errors. Make sure your title and meta description do not exceed the recommended characters. Adding SEO plugins like Yoast can help you check your content’s SEO score and improve them based on recommendations.
5. Use the Mobile-Friendly Test
6. Mobile traffic analysis
The final step is to check your website’s traffic. Google Analytics is an ideal tool for analysing your audience since it shows you each visit to your site including the device they are using. You can also do this before you do the mobile SEO audit so you can make a comparison.
The Top Free and Paid Mobile SEO Tools
Mobile SEO is made easier by user-friendly and comprehensive tools at your disposal. If you’re a small business owner with limited budget for SEO, there are mobile SEO tools that are free to use.
Free Mobile SEO Tools
As mentioned, you can use Google Search Console for checking mobile usability. Inspect your URLs using this tool to find out if they’re mobile friendly or if the Google bots can fetch your web pages. You can also use this tool to monitor, test, and track your accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) complete with helpful reports.
Formerly Google AdWords, the Google Ads Keyword Planner provides insight on popular keyword searches and lets you search for words or phrases relevant to your business. You can check for local search trends over time to see how consumer needs are changing and adapting your content and strategy based on the results.
3. Google Sites
Create simple websites and landing pages for little to no money. This is a great starting point in creating a mobile presence if you are just starting out. You can also use this tool to create a demo or mock-up of your website.
4. Google AdMob
Although Google AdMob is mostly a tool for app monetization rather than optimization, this can provide insight about how advertisers are targeting their customers. Using AdMob’s actionable analytics, you can use user insights to refine your site’s content to wide your reach and drive traffic to your pages.
This is probably the most popular tool for Mobile SEO analysis. You can compare mobile versus desktop traffic; find out which mobile devices give you more traffic and which ones require optimization; identify content attracting high traffic, etc. This tool also has comprehensive segmentation to help you customize reports for specific metrics you want to analyse.
PageSpeed Insights tests page loading speed for both mobile and website, analyses web content, and provides suggestions to improve page speed.
Screenfly tests your website on different screens, including mobile phones, desktops, tablets, and televisions
Web Sniffer helps you debug your website. This is a tool for web developers and shows HTTP requests and responses between the server and browser.
9. Keyword Tool
This is another helpful tool for keyword research available for free. Simply enter a relevant keyword and this will bring up a long list of common questions related to your query as well as long-tail keywords.
This tool is great for a comprehensive link analysis of your website. The free version has a backlink checker for any website. You can use this to check your competitor’s backlinks for leads and further optimization opportunities.
Paid Mobile SEO Tools
Pricing: From $99.95/month
- Implement a Mobile Site Audit
- Pinpoint mobile competitors
- Conduct an analysis of your competitor’s mobile keywords
- Collate Mobile SEO insights and ideas
- Craft Mobile SEO-Friendly content
- Integrate your local business listings
- Monitor your site’s Mobile SERPs rankings
Pricing: From $99/month
- Test site’s mobile friendliness
- Perform a keyword research
- Conduct a Mobile SEO site audit
- Track SERPs ranking
- Optimise content
Pricing: From $33/month
- SEO research
- PPC research
- Keyword research
- Keyword rank checker
- SERP checker
- Domain overview
Pricing: From $49/month
- Site explorer
- Backlink checker
- URL submitter
- Keyword research
- Competitor domain research
- Rank tracker
Pricing: From $49.2/month
- SERP analysis
- Content editor
- Keyword research
- SEO audit
Pricing: From $39/month
- SEO auditing, monitoring, alerting, and change tracking
- Insights and reports
- APIs and integration
Practical Examples of Mobile SEO
There is a wealth of information available online about mobile SEO and it can be overwhelming. You may think it requires a lot of technical knowledge to use mobile SEO tools, but this is misleading. There are simple and practical things you can do to make your site more mobile-friendly.
Optimize Web Design
To create a responsive web design, you need to do the following:
- Viewport – Insert this line of code: <meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0″>
- Images – Program your website to automatically scale images to the device’s screen size using the max-width property
- Text – Make your text responsive by setting its vw units (i.e. 1 vw is equivalent to 1% of viewport width)
If you are not confident about editing the site’s code, a simple way to make your website responsive is to choose a responsive and lightweight template (e.g. WordPress – Elegant Themes, Thrive Themes, Wix Templates). Using those themes and templates, your web pages will automatically adjust to any screen size.
Create Less Intrusive Pop-ups
Pop-ups can be disruptive. Some of them can be hard to close and pose a lot of inconvenience to your users. So, how do you make pop-ups less intrusive? Your first option is to remove pop-ups, period. Google actually downranks sites with intrusive pop-ups, so that’s a serious consideration. If that’s not possible, you can make them smaller and place them in corners where they cannot obstruct too much content.
More than half of visitors abandon sites that take over three seconds to load, Google. To improve your page’s loading speed, you need to optimise your images by using compression tools like the Smush plugin, use caching, implement AMP, and use a powerful server.
Instead of hiring a developer to optimise your page code for faster loading, you can use the powerful plugin Asset Cleanup. Asset CleanUp detects conflicts between themes and plugins, removes unnecessary CSS and Java, and cuts down the HTML code. It will detect all the assets loaded and lets you choose styles and scripts to unload to make your pages load faster and rank higher on Google.
Good content will drive traffic to your site and make them stay. Here’s what you need to do to optimise your content for mobile users:
- Create useful and engaging content
- Use long-tail keywords and catchy snippets
- Keep titles short and snappy, otherwise they’ll get cut off in the results
- Keep meta descriptions concise within 120 characters
- Remove grammatical errors
- Update content to stay relevant
Fix Any Technical Errors
A glitchy website will drive off any traffic to your website. So, it is advisable to routinely check for and resolve any of the following:
- Broken links, images, and redirects
- Indexing issues
- Server shutdown
You can use any of the SEO audit tools mentioned above to check for errors and fix them.
You don’t need to have deep pockets to implement a mobile SEO strategy. A bit of knowledge and the right tools can give you competitive advantage over competitors with a complete arsenal or a bigger budget. As they say, a tool is only as good as its user, so use them wisely.