The dominance of mobile has been a long train a-comin’ to many marketers. But that train, filled with people consistently turning to smartphones over their PCs and laptops, has arrived at the station. This trend also heralds marketers acting as conductors — guiding customers to content designed for a mobile-first environment.
The strategy for mobile content should respond to those search engine features that make mobile use convenient. Mobile-first indexing was introduced in the Google search engine algorithm back in November 2017. Its purpose is to emphasize the content from a mobile version of a website. Although not yet emphasizing mobile-first in its algorithm, Bing has taken another approach. Microsoft just introduced a visual search feature in the Bing search mobile app that uses images captured by the a camera in the user’s smartphone to return related query results.
These developments unerline the importance of applying mobile SEO techniques to content. The context of words used in a mobile search can differ from a search conducted from a laptop. This means planning keyword opportunities differently, as well as planning for image discovery techniques as well. It also means that the balance of some technical approaches must change. Mobile sites with only limited text and few images in its content would fair poorly in response to a traditional search query. Yet marketers should now understand too that a page bloated with images can be slow to load, leading to a poor customer experience.
The challenge of balancing such factors points to a number of design features to be considered.
While dedicated mobile pages are used for specific mobile-only content, many sites use responsive design – a flexible layout that adjusts its content according to device. In fact with responsive design, marketers can take advantage of condensed text layouts. This is an HTML technique in which the content is condensed for viewing but is still present within the code. This design allows search engines to pick up the keywords while allowing the content to be attractively configured within the screen.
Marketers should also look beyond keywords for optimization opportunities. A plan of action should examine all the media that is being incorporated into a given page. For example, an image file name can be found by a search query, so it’s sometimes a benefit to have an image of a product included in the file name. A file used for a mobile-only site can include the same image, but with a keyword that an analysis has determined to appear more frequently in mobile searches.
To look for mobile content opportunities, marketers can use the filter settings in analytics reports to monitor the quality of results generated from mobile search. Google Analytics, for example, can report which landing pages are attracting visitors through a mobile device. That analysis can help reveal what content is naturally receiving attention. There is also a search query report that can identify the words visitors generally use in getting delivered to a site.
Another feature in analytic reports is to sort by device type. Tablet, mobile, or desktop can be added as a second dimension within the search query report to help analysts view, not only which words come up, but also how ranking varies by device. The results can help spur efforts to improve content for mobile, highlighting which key words works well and which should receive focused attention for improvement.
Marketers should also consider how voice-activated search plays into content planning. How words are usedchanges when consumers go to voice-activated search. One of the best way to examine this is to walk through a conversation that a customer would have with an Amazon Echo or Google Voice Assistant. Amazon offers a Dialogflow. These can provide a framework for planning content to be discovered using home voice devices as well, since many voice assistants incorporate query results from search engines. Alexa incorporates Bing results, while Google Assistant naturally relies on Google.to help developers envision a conversation flow, while Google offers a similar one in support of
Mobile SEO, when used effectively, can create the right match between content intent and device. The key is to really reflect on how customers talk about your product or service, and the needs reflected in the words they use.