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Some tips for optimizing mobile SEO

See, we told you this would be the next section. Have we ever lied to you?

Way back in the section directly above, we explained how critical it is to ensure that your website performs well on mobile devices.

Think of it in terms of the huge conversion magazines made from print to online over the past 15 years. For a while, the online versions of magazines paled in comparison to their print versions. They were mere afterthoughts, often just a list of some feature articles, and they only occasionally bothered with well-designed type, much less images.

Over time, magazines realized that more and more readers wanted to access their information online. So the magazine sites adapted, eventually making their online versions not only as good as, but often better than, their print versions. The same is true of major newspapers and other print media.

Similarly, prospective customers viewing your website are steadily shifting from desktop (or laptop) computers to mobile devices. The smaller screens on smartphones and tablets require different layouts and options than those on “standard” computers. It’s now incredibly important to optimize your sites for mobile search.

While some of the specifics are a bit technical, some of the basics you need to know are:

To rank well in mobile, be sure your Google Place, Yahoo Local, and Bing Place pages are optimized:
Make sure these pages are complete and that all your information is up to date. Don’t miss out on any chances to include elements allowed on these pages — they can make a huge difference in your mobile ranking.

Google naturally pushes its own utility, Google Places, to the top of the search results for most local-related keyword phrases. If your customers are local, you must focus on ranking well in Google Places, along with Bing & Yahoo Local.

Your organic SEO ranking is still very important for mobile:
Despite the importance given to Google Places, Google does often show organic (regular search) and Place page listings for local keywords. To rank well, be sure your website is both highly optimized for organic search and compatible for mobile users. In fact, even for mobile users, Google actually ranks desktop sites higher than sites that only have a mobile presence.

Have a responsive site:
Without getting too deep into the technical aspects, a responsive site is one that is designed to use the same URLs and HTML on both desktop and mobile, but it will adapt to display optimally on a variety of different devices. Google has shown a preference for responsive sites, because they provide the best user experience.

Clean up faulty redirects:
When someone clicks a listing in search results, the user expects to go straight to the page on your site specific to that result, not your home page. This is a problem for a number of sites’ mobile versions. Google likely will penalize your site if the results link doesn’t go directly to the page specific to that result.

Be sure your pages load quickly on mobile:
Mobile users demand incredibly fast load times. Google would like to see sites load within a single second, which is a high bar, considering that the average site currently loads in a molasses-like 10 seconds. Use the Google Page Speed Mobile test to determine how quickly your pages load, and if they’re on the low end, work with your designer to get them up to speed.

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