3 Tips to Better Mobile Search Engine Rankings

Google representatives have hypothesized that the percentage of mobile search engine queries will surpass that of desktop queries in 2014. Rough estimates put the amount of PCs in the world to less than half (2 billion) of the amount of mobile devices (5 billion). Although much of the mobile searches are likely to come from countries like China and India , the increased trend in mobile searches is also evident in North America and makes up about 30 percent of search in the US and Canada.

For brands that are looking to make an impact via search (who isn’t?) the mobile marketplace is a place where these companies simply cannot fail and should put initiatives in place so that they give their webpages the best chance of ranking.

Below are some tips to help your brand rank better within mobile search that you should implement today.

Google and Mobile Search

It is important for marketing directors to understand that there are differences in the way mobile searches are presented versus those that are done on a desktop. When a user searches Google on their smartphone they are presented with a mix of desktop and mobile results. Even if mobile versions of URLs have been created, the searcher will only see the desktop version of the URL listed. When the result is clicked, Google loads the mobile version (if there is one) instead of the desktop version.

One of the most important ranking factors for mobile searches is the mobile user experience of the page. Google mentions some of these user experience factors on their site:

  • Unplayable videos
  • Faulty redirects
  • Smartphone-only 404s
  • App download interstitials
  • Irrelevant cross-linking
  • Page speed

3 Ranking Signals to Pay Attention to

Here are some additional ranking factors with more detailed explanations of how they can affect your sites’ rankings.

1. Page Load Times

Google recommends that mobile pages render in under one second in order to provide users a more pleasant experience. Brands are encouraged to use Google’s free PageSpeed tool to test their sites and to see Google’s suggestions on how to make a site faster.

2. Mobile-specific Pages

Your website may have different URLs for desktop and mobile users to serve up different content for each of these users. If this is the case with your site you may be missing out on valuable ranking signals because Google clusters indexing and ranking signals for pages that have a desktop version and a separate mobile version. In other words the pages you worked so hard to rank will no longer help with mobile searches because you changed the URL. One way of avoiding this is to use responsive design or dynamic serving so that one URL is presented for both desktop and mobile users.

3. Overlay App Installs

Apps are a very popular thing these days and many brands are creating them and even monetizing them. For brands that have invested a lot of time, money and resources into apps it would make sense that they would want to promote them as much as possible. However, installing app overlays on your mobile site prevents people from accessing the content they thought they were clicking on in the search results. When Google realizes that your mobile site no longer provides a good user experience your rankings will diminish and so will your app downloads.

This does not mean that you can no longer promote your app on your mobile site. Check out the below example that showcases the app download but also presents the information the user was searching for.


The Mobile SEO Takeaway

Page speed, mobile-specific URLs and overlay app installs are just three of the many ranking factors that can influence your site. To ensure you have the best chance of ranking, optimize for these three factors and provide your users the best possible experience so that they can enjoy your mobile website as much as they do your desktop one.