Is My Website Google SEO Mobile Friendly?

Good morning, internet fans. It’s Ryan Perry with Simple Biz Support, it is “Internet Marketing Thursday”, therefore I do have Virginie Dorn with Business Website Center. Good morning, Virginie.

Hi Ryan, good morning. Happy Thursday!

RP: Happy Thursday, it is the day after Tax Day, so, the 16th. That should make a lot of people happy because the deadline has come and gone, unless you filed an extension and then you’ve just extended it for a couple or more months.

VD: I extended… Too much going on.

RP: Yeah, I know a lot of people are. You know, I think it’s a sign of a good economy when you don’t have enough time to do your taxes, so…

VD: Indeed.

RP: We are going to talk a little bit about the looming deadline, actually there’s another looming deadline, and that is April 21st, Google has kind of drawn the line in the sand and go, “Look, mobile is really, really important these days, and therefore, if your website is not mobile friendly come the 21st, it’s going to basically be penalized.” And what we’re going to talk about today are some SEO tips, tricks to ensure that your mobile friendly website also ranks well on Google.

VD: Yes. So, again, today we’re assuming when you have done the work, you have done your due diligence and now your website is mobile friendly, so now, what next? So you’re pleasing Google, but now you have to make it friendly for the type of users that use smartphones and tablets. So we’ll have a bunch of tips today, what to do, and next week we’ll do the, what not to do.

RP: Right. So everything today is going to be positive, happy, friendly, it is the day after taxes. Then we’re going to give you a week to kind of rebound from having to pay taxes, or maybe you spent all that money, and we’re going to talk about some of the things you don’t want to do next week. Keeping it on a positive and light note today, what’s tip number one as far as making sure that your mobile friendly website is also SEO mobile?

VD: Well, the most important thing is to really remember, when people, when they’re using a mobile device, search for things in a very different manner as they do when they’re in their office in front of a full sized desktop. They tend to have their searches more elaborate, like shorter sentences instead of just one or two keywords, they actually will use verb and adjectives in their searches. For instance, they might take their phone here and say, “I need a dentist in the town of Petaluma.” When you’re on your desktop, you might just put “Dentist, Petaluma.” On mobile though, it is going to be far more extended. So there are many things you can do, of course, you have meta titles and meta descriptions, meta keywords on each page of your website. Each of them should be tweaked a little bit to allow for longer searches or longer keyword combination. Does that make sense, so far?

RP: Yeah, it makes sense to me. Hopefully it makes sense to other people. You’re totally right, when I first got in to internet marketing over six years ago, I always found it interesting that when people, when we communicate, we actually talk in full sentences, however, when we have a thought that needs to go to the keyboard, it’s very short and direct. That was one of my first a-ha moments when I was learning about SEO and internet marketing was the fact that, as you said, if you’re looking for a dentist in Petaluma, you’re just going to type in, “Dentist, Petaluma,” which just really seems awkward until you think about it, because you’re really going directly from the brain to your fingertips, versus when you go from your brain to your mouth, you’re used to talking in normal complete sentences, and essentially, what you’re saying is that you need to optimize for that type of audience. So instead of just putting keywords in, such as, “Dentist, Petaluma,” you may want to try and figure out how to incorporate, “I’m looking for,” or, “Dentist in,” “I need a dentist.”

VD: Yes. Sorry.

RP: And that’s going to be interesting from a content point of view is how do you put that type of content and integrate that type of content into your website without it looking awkward?

VD: Correct. So you can do it in the meta tags, and those are fairly hidden from your visitors, but you will definitely have to enter it in the content, as well. Now, you don’t want to just forget about desktop optimization and do everything from mobile, you really have to find the right balance. So but in the content, it could be, “Are you looking for a dentist in the town of Petaluma?” There, you’re catering to that kind of search from mobile devices, and that looks fairly natural on a webpage. Other tags you can actually utilise that are very easy to do is the alt-tag, which are the alternative tags for images.

VD: Whenever you enter an image into your content management system, may it be WordPress or Juno or Drupal or any other, you usually have the ability to add an alt-tag, A-L-T. The alt-tag is something that search engine bots read, it gives them an indication of what the image or the page is about, but the visitors will not see it, except if the visitor is visually impaired. A lot of the software here, where actually, we will click on the image and might read that alt-tag, the alternative tag, to the viewer. So, those tags are a perfect spot to hide those long sentences that mobile searchers will be using, “I am looking for a dentist in Petaluma.” Put it in the alt-tag, nobody else will see it, Google definitely will read it.

RP: Yeah, the other thing I was going to… I’m going to interrupt real quick. The other thing I would say is that, what’s nice about that is, or I should say what you want to do though is make sure you use multiple images throughout your website. That way each image can have its own unique alt-tag.

VD: Yes. Every image on your site, including your logo in the header or the footer, should have the alt-tag being utilized. If you don’t you’re leaving money on the table. Because you’re not doing index as much as you could. Now saying that, you also want to enable searches more local friendly because the surveys have also shown that people using smartphones and tablets tend to search for more localized searches. So you want to take this in mind, especially if you are in the service business and you have a certain geographical area you are servicing.

VD: So make sure to include those keywords like your county, your city, nearby towns. If you’re in a small town and there is a hub, like in the county of Sonoma where you and I both reside, there’s Santa Rosa is the principal town of the county. So you might be in the small town of Cotati, very tiny and cute, but you might want to optimize for Santa Rosa because the searchers are… Even though they might live in Cotati, they are going to be looking for a service in Santa Rosa because in their head they’ll get better searches, or better results, looking for that.

RP: Alright, perfect. And there’s a lot of, that’s called geo-targeting and there’s a lot of ways of incorporating that in. And one of the best ways that I found to do that is through the blog.

VD: Yes.

RP: Obviously on the website you need to make sure that down in the footer, or somewhere, you incorporate the different cities that you want to be found for. But blogging is a great way to target specific phrases, that you were talking about, and then also being able to target specific cities, or being able to geo-target specific cities. And what’s nice about that, is a lot of times, I think as business owners we get concerned. It’s like, “Oh! I gotta tell everybody, everything at once.” And that’s all fear based. And the reality is if you’re blogging, you really should be blogging at least once a week. That gives you 52 opportunities to write content that’s separate from your static website pages. And each one of those opportunities, you can target a specific city, a specific keyword, or a specific keyword phrase.

VD: Very true, very true. So there are more tips. Another one is to make sure your font size, your titles, your graphics are readable on a smartphone. And typically the paragraphs will be larger on a phone but the title will be reduced. It’s kind of funny. So make sure it’s readable. Because, actually Google itself, will take notice of your font size on a mobile display and will penalize you if they feel it’s too small. And they’re pretty good at assessing if its a readable font. So, if you’re putting an eight point font on your site, it’s going to be too small for a mobile user so you want to increase it. And that’s all done through mobile device, mobile responsive coding.

RP: Right. The other thing I just, for people, if you’re curious to know if Google thinks your website is mobile friendly, just do a Google search for “Google mobile friendly.” It should bring up their developer page. And essentially what it is, it’s a page designed by Google. You can type in your URL, Google itself will go through your website and determine if it is friendly or not. And it’ll actually give you a green light or a red light, if there’s any. If it’s a red light it will actually tell you what the issues are, such as, “Your font size is too small.”

VD: Yes, true. True again. There is another tip too, which is to reduce your file size for each page. And its an SEO tip because if you don’t, you will be penalized again. So you want to make sure you do everything right on your site. And that’s particularly true for the homepage. They tend to be the mega page of all and it has a lot of stuff on a desktop. So, your webmaster should be able to hide certain elements on your homepage, or other pages, to reduce it’s size. For instance, if you have a mega slider with lots of text coming in and buttons, or on a mobile device you might want to reduce that slider to a static image. Something really pretty, very small, that is visually pleasing, but get rid of all the other stuff. So, truly you don’t get rid of it. You hide it.

VD: And the code understands, “Oh this person is on a smartphone, therefore I should not show all of those things.” And again, Google appreciates it and therefore gives you bonus points for doing that extra effort. Now that’s not just true for sliders. Sometimes its true as well for content. If you have a huge page of content, you want to make it more succinct. More right to the point. It’s more user friendly to begin with, but again you will get those bonus points you are looking for from Google itself.

RP: Right. And, I’m going to say that’s where finding a good programmer, somebody like Virginie who understands this is really important. Because essentially what she’s saying is that even though your website is responsive, and that is it automatically resizes from desktop down to a tablet, down to a smartphone, on the backend what we visually see may seem similar. However, on the back end from a programming point of view, you can actually program the website to be, “Alright, this is desktop so you get everything.” This is the 100% fancy, you get the big images, everything’s “perty”. But as it shrinks down, the device, Google knows what the device is.

RP: When you do a search, the device information is collected, and therefore the website, from a programmer’s point of view, can actually go, “Oh, this is an iPad and therefore, I’m not going to give you the full desktop version, I’m going to give you more of a stripped-down version”, and that’s really important, because your user interface is going to be different on desktop than it is on tablet, than it is on mobile devices. So, by customizing your responsive website to really fit the person’s needs and, from a Google point of view, you really don’t need a huge image, if it’s just going to show up on a small device.

VD: Yes. And even more

[12:31] ____ fervour, if there are pages you really cannot reduce inside, or it just doesn’t make sense, just hide them on the mobile version. It’s very easy to hide them from the menu. So, I don’t know, maybe you have a photo gallery even somehow cannot be optimized and made more succinct, just hide it. Therefore, the people won’t click on it and Google won’t be bothered by its size. Talking about drop-down menu, really take a look at your drop-down menus. Do they make sense? Is it easy to go to a second level drop down? A third level drop down? Easy to click? Easy to go back and forth? If you’re down to the footer, just go back to the top button? So all those details are good for the users, but again, Google and Bing, Yahoo, all those guys, they take a look at it as well. They’re very familiar as to what should be there or not there. So you’re not just catering to your visitors, you’re catering to your search engine box as well.

RP: Right. We got about two minutes left, so what’s next on the list?

VD: Oh, it’s plenty. But another thing, you want to make your mobile display very entertaining, because about 85% to 90% of users using a smartphone do it for entertainment purpose or to pass time. They don’t do it for really strong research. Those type of searches are usually done on a desktop. So make sure it’s a little fun, it’s visually appealing, not too much text, more right to the point again, and interesting. Maybe include some social media as well, if that’s appropriate for your industry. Again, make it entertaining so you keep them on your page. The longer visitors stay on your page, the better Google will like you for it and will increase your indexation as well.

RP: Alright, perfect. All that makes good sense.

VD: Good. There’s many more things, but I don’t think we’ll have time today to cover it. Next week we’ll just focus on what not to do again.

RP: Okay, perfect. So, why don’t you do me a favor and let’s do a quick recap of what you should be looking at on your mobile device? And what I really recommend to the viewer is actually get on your phone and look at your website as it would look on an iPad, as it would look on your smartphone.

VD: Yes. So to get your website user-friendly for mobile devices, this is what you need to do. Make sure you edit or add new type of keywords that are more elongated, more human-like onto your alt-tag, meta tags and within the text of each page. Make sure you reduce the page sizes. Make sure you remove elements that are just too busy, too heavy for mobile usage. Make sure you make it entertaining. Get the text right to the point. Keep the font size legible. And make it more intuitive for people to click around your mobile site. That includes not just the menu, but throughout each page.

RP: Right, okay, perfect. Alright Virginie, that is our time for today, I appreciate that. And again, next week we’re going to be continuing this conversation and we’re going to go into the things that you do not want to do. These are the things that are going to penalize you, that are not going to add value to the user experience. As always, Virginie, I appreciate your time, and I hope you have a great week.

VD: You too. Bye, Ryan.

RP: Alright. Bye.


About the Author:

Ryan Perry is the founder and CEO of Simple Biz Support, Inc. Ryan started video blogging in 2009 as an alternative to written blogs to create visibility and credibility online. During the workweek, he enjoys helping small business owners harness the power of video to grow their companies. On the weekends, he enjoys hiking and searching out waterfalls throughout the state of California.

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