How to Perform a Mobile SEO Audit

How to Perform a Mobile SEO Audit

Mobile constitutes about 60% of all Google searches – and if the current trend is anything to go by, mobile searches will account for nearly three-quarters of Google searches by 2025.

Simple, your business needs a mobile SEO strategy. It’s the only way to survive and remain visible in search results. 

Google Saw the Trend Coming

Google was the first to see the trend. In 2015, they made some major algorithmic changes, releasing their pigeon update to provide mobile-optimized websites with a better ranking in the SERPs.

In 2016, the mobile-first indexing would kick off.

Google learned that a majority of users that clicked on websites were using their mobile devices, as opposed to using laptops and desktops. They had to adapt their algorithms to reflect that. 

In essence, Google only wants to index websites that better meet the needs of their users. 

What’s Mobile SEO?

To understand mobile SEO, you first have to understand what SEO means.

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s the practice of optimizing your website content to achieve a better ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

By adding mobile, it simply means optimizing your website for mobile, but with SEO in mind. 

Your business will thank you for developing a mobile SEO strategy. Turns out, mobile website traffic has grown by up to 222% in the last seven years.

Is Google the Most Important Search Engine for Mobile SEO?
Why do we always reference Google when there are other search engines? Well, Google rules the mobile search market, accounting for nearly 95% of all mobile searches. 

Why Mobile SEO?

What are some of the reasons mobile SEO is important for your business?

A Majority of Online Searches Occur on Mobile: Since mobile constitutes more than half of online searches, it’s only natural that you will want to provide a fantastic experience for those exploring your website on their mobile devices.

Builds Credibility and Trust: When a user lands on your website and loves the whole experience, they’re more likely to trust your brand. However, when the experience turns out to be awful, a lot of questions will be raised, making them less trusting of your brand.

People Purchase Products on Mobile too: Turns out, mobile users are more likely to purchase your products or services than desktop users. 

Here’s the thing: When someone searches the internet using a laptop or desktop device, chances are they’re in the middle of the customer’s journey. They’re in the process of just researching about the product or service, and comparing prices and brands. 

However, when a user searches for a product online using their mobile devices, it’s likely that they’re acting on impulse or are ” in the moment.” It’s either because they’re near a shop or they just realized they need a particular product or service.

In short, mobile users convert better than desktop or laptop ones. 

Be on the Good Side of Google: Google will always favour websites that provide good mobile experiences. 

In July 2019, they rolled out mobile-first indexing, which means they predominantly use mobile versions of websites to index and rank them.

Mobile Search Drives Sales: Mobile search drives presale searches. 

In a recent Google research, it was found that:

  • The number of people searching the internet for product reviews has increased by 35% over the last two years
  • Users have spent an equivalent of 50000 years of watch time watching video reviews
  • Online searches with the word “the best” have increased by 80% over the last two years
  • 40% of the population use their mobile devices for the entire shopping process, from researching to buying. 

The most important part of a mobile SEO campaign is ensuring you’re using the right search terms to lead potential buyers to your website.

Overall, mobile optimization is important because it helps you reach your target customers where they are and create better online experiences for them. 

What’s a Mobile SEO Audit Anyway?

A mobile SEO audit is a practice of evaluating your website and grading its ability to rank on mobile search results. 

You audit your website against several parameters, one by one to identify the issues that need to be fixed or improved to boost the page’s search engine performance. 

Think of it as a scorecard or report card for your website’s mobile readability. 

Your site might be wonderful, clean, and well-designed. But if readers are having a hard time interacting with it on mobile, then it’s likely that it may never live to see the light of the day.

Why is a Mobile SEO Audit Important?

A full mobile SEO audit will give you an actionable plan to:

  • Compare your website to your competitors and use the findings to improve your own.
  • Identify the changes that need to be made, as well as how to make them.
  • Get a general overview of your website’s mobile SEO and your site efficiency
  • Uncover your website’s weaknesses and figure out how to fix them
  • Set future expectations for your site
  • Device an ongoing mobile SEO plan to improve key metrics such as leads and sales
  • Create better user experiences
  • Resolve on-page SEO issues and help search engines better understand your website’s content

Why Do You Need to Make Your Website More Friendly?

Optimizing your website for mobile-friendliness has so many benefits, including: 

  • It makes your website load faster on mobile devices. Bear in mind that speed is one of Google’s top-ranking factors
  • It leads to decreased bounce rate. The more your site viewer find your website appealing and love the overall experience the more time they’ll spend interacting with it
  • Other factors held constant, mobile-optimized websites generally ranking higher compared to sites that have yet to be optimized for mobile
  • The higher a website ranks the more it’s likely to drive more traffic, generate more leads, and, in the end, make more leads

Best SEO Practices for Mobile

Optimizing your website for mobile goes beyond getting it to work on mobile. There are a few elements that you specifically have to pay attention to.

They include:

Page Speed

Getting your website to load just fine on mobile devices isn’t enough if the website takes ages to load. Taking into account connectivity issues, website speed matters even more for your mobile visitors than desktop ones. 

It goes beyond optimizing your site images. You have to minify your code, reduce redirects, and allow browser caching.

Don’t Block Images, CSS, or JavaScript

There was a time when mobile devices didn’t support images, CSS, and JavaScript. Consequently, mobile developers were forced to block them. But that’s no longer the case. All these elements can now be read on mobile, so there’s no point in hiding them.

Plus, Google bots will also want to read them to better understand and categorize your website’s content. 

Mobile Site Design

Mobile devices have revolutionized and simplified the way people design website nowadays. 

In a world where people are so used to scrolling, don’t force all of your content to appear in the “above the fold” section of the screen. 

Don’t Use Flash

No so many users have flash installed on their phones. That means lots of them will be missing out on the fun should you decide to use it. 

So, if you really must add special effects to your design, then perhaps you should consider using HTML5 instead. 

Avoid Popups Like a Plaque

Limit popups to desktops and laptops. But for mobile, you want to avoid them like the nuisance they are.

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It can be frustrating and difficult for users to close popups on mobile devices. This often results in high bounce rates.

Consider Users with Fat Fingers

Design your website with fat fingers in mind.

The problem with touch screen navigation is that it always leads to accidental clicks. This happens when your buttons are either too big or too small.

It could also happen when the button is in the path of the finger that the user is using to scroll down the page. 

Here’s the thing: you want to start by making sure your buttons are well spaced and sizeable enough to allow for an easy click without interfering with another button or getting in the way of scrolling or any other website activities. 

Meta Descriptions and Titles

Don’t forget that you only have a small screen on which to communicate everything. 

For this, you want to be super-concise with the message you display in the SERPs (without sacrificing quality, of course). 

Make sure your URL, meta descriptions, and titles sum up everything on the page.

Use Schema Structured Data

You want your search results to take as much real estate on a user’s screen as possible. 

A rich result snippet is how you make a webpage stand out on mobile and quickly get noticed. 

Leverage Local SEO

If you’re targeting a local clientele or customer base, then it would help to practice local SEO.

Be sure to standardize your contact details, as well as name and address. You also want to make sure you’ve included your state’s name and city into your website’s metadata. 

Mobile Configuration

Among the decision you’ll be required to make when setting up your website is deciding on whether to use a separate, dynamic, or responsive site configuration. 

Keep in mind that each of these three options comes with its share of perks and cons. Also, while Google supports all of them, it’s clear that they’re biased towards a responsive design. 

Responsive Design

A responsive design is fluid. Meaning it can adapt to any screen size.

With CSS media queries, you can create a site that serves the same content to desktop and mobile readers using a flexible design and fluid grid that automatically adjusts to adapt to different screen sizes. 

Separate Mobile URL

The second option would be to create a separate parallel website for mobile users. 

With this option, you have to create custom content for your mobile visitors. And to avoid creating URL confusion, it’s advisable to create it as a subdomain with the letter “m.”

So, if your original website is abcdef.com, it becomes “m.abcdef.com.”  

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Audit Your Website for Mobile SEO

Here’s a simple, 15-step guide on how to conduct an effective mobile SEO audit.

1# Audit Your Website for Mobile Friendliness

Google unapologetically uses the mobile version of your website to rank it, both for mobile and desktop users.

That makes mobile-friendliness one of the prerequisites for securing a prime ranking in the SERPs.

Now, this begs the big question: how can you tell if your website is mobile friendly?

Simple, use Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool.

All you have to do is head over to the site and pop your website into the search bar provided.

How to Perform a Mobile SEO Audit 1

You’ll be able to see if Google considers your website mobile-friendly.

You’ll also be provided with more information on what to fix or how to optimize the website for mobile-friendliness.

An alternative tool for finding out if your website is mobile-friendly is SEMrush.

But unlike Google’s mobile-friendliness test, SEMrush will want you to sign up first to run the test. 

2# Mobile Content Optimization

After visitors get to your site, you must figure out how to keep them on the site for longer. The more they stay on your site, the more Google will be compelled to rank you higher. 

Whether you’re optimizing your site for mobile or desktop, one thing you should never forget is that content is one of Google’s most important ranking factors. 

That’s why one aspect of improving your mobile SEO strategy is working on your website content. 

Here are a few tips to help you out with optimizing your content for mobile (remember that the same tips also work with regular SEO): 

  • Write appealing headlines. The point is to try and get your site’s visitors hooked in, and intrigued enough to want to read the rest of the content. 
  • Learn and understand how to use LSI keywords
  • Optimize your website content for keyword intent
  • Build inbound links
  • Make sure your content has some depth to it. Try to make the long and more detailed. Preferably, 2000 words and above. 

3# Technical SEO for Mobile

If you’ve already optimized the technical bit of your site for search engines, then you might want to skip this section for other sections of this guide. 

Otherwise, here are a few technical issues you’ll need to look into.

First, you have to make sure your website has a sitemap. Sitemaps help Google crawl websites effectively.

If you’re using All in One SEO (aioseo.com) then this will be automatically created for you. 

If not, then you want to use a free tool such as  XML sitemaps to create one.  

4# Install an SSL Certificate

It’s not just for SEO purposes, but your business’s credibility and trustworthiness as well. 

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Google will also not hesitate to flag your website if they don’t find it secure enough. 

You can also bet that people will be reluctant to visit your website if they find it insecure. 

Use SEMrush to find out if your website has any security issue that’s standing in the way of your mobile SEO. 

Be sure to use header tags in your content (h1, h2, and h3 tags). This is meant to help Google understand your content hierarchy. They should be able to tell which one of your content is more important, based on the tag used. 

For example, if you’re using the h1 tag for your site title, then you might want to use the h2 tag for your blog title, whereas the subheadings can use the h3 tag. 

That way, your site visitors can also skim through your content and have something that can grab their attention and make them look.  

5# Check Your Popups and Make Sure They’re Mobile-friendly

Popups or interstitial are a great way to collect email subscribers, promote offers, generate leads, and so on.

They also work great with legislation changes, like GDPR. 

So, while it’s advisable to get rid of popups on mobile, you don’t necessarily have to do away with them completely. 

However, don’t forget the fact that they can be annoying at times. And yes, interstitials indirectly affect your ranking.

While there aren’t any fast and hard rules for popups, here are some of the best practices to observe:

  • You have to ensure the interstitials don’t cover the entire mobile phone user screen or most of it
  • Ensure the interstitials are responsive. They must adjust to the size of the screen
  • The popups must be triggered by something, like asking the user to subscribe to your email list when you suspect they’re about to leave your website. 
  • Test your popups on numerous devices. 

6# Optimize Your Content for Mobile

When optimizing your content for mobile, the first step would be to optimize it as you do in regular SEO. Be sure to read out post on how to blog for SEO.

With that said, here are a few mobile-specific tips on how to optimize your website content for SEO:

  • Focus your content at the centre of the page
  • Place your content above the fold to capture the reader’s attention in an instant. Keep in mind that only 20% of your readers’ attention span goes below the fold. 
  • Be concise: Online users get distracted easily. They also have 1001 things that they can do with their mobile phones. Make their time worthwhile and easy, and they’ll hang around for longer. 
  • Make your content easy-to-read

Well, this is how you make your content easy to read:

  • Use short sentences and paragraphs
  • Use bullet points and lists
  • Use a less sales-oriented CTA
  • Remove the navigation bar on mobile view. Your formatting must allow users to quickly scan through your content

7# Checking to See How Many Versions of Your Website Have Been Index

Google should only index one version of your website. However, there are situations where you could unknowingly get different versions of your website indexed. 

Here’s the thing: 

You can have one website, but with different versions of it. 

For example (using abcedef.com as the original websites, here are five different versions of the same site: 

  • http://abcdef.com
  • https:// abcdef.com
  • http://www. abcdef.com
  • https://www. abcdef.com
  • abcdef.com

All these links lead to the same website and content, but they’re different links.

Everything might look pretty much the same to you, but not to search engines. 

So, unless you redirected these links properly, Google will always treat them as separate sites.

This might affect your ranking in a bad way, enough to even get you penalized.

Luckily for you, there’s an easy way to check your website for separate links and fix them.

All you have to do is type all the five URLs into your web browser, one by one. They should all redirect to only one version of the website.

If each link loads as it is without redirecting, then that should tell you that you have different versions of the same site.

Using our example above: 

How to Perform a Mobile SEO Audit 2

If we choose to use www.abcdef.com as our default URL, all links must redirect to that one particular link as shown. 

If all the links don’t redirect to one link, then the only way to fix it is to 301 redirect them to any of the links. 

8# Mobile Website Speed

Back in 2010, Google made it official that they’ll be using page speed as one of their ranking factors.

How to Perform a Mobile SEO Audit 3

They would even go on to suggest a few free tools you could use to evaluate your site speed and figure out how to improve on it.

Among the tools recommended by Google, there was:

    • PageSpeed Insights: a Firefox extension that lets you analyze the webpage on the currently opened tab. It does provide some crucial details on your website’s performance, together with some solid tips on how to improve it. 
    • YSlow: Owned by Yahoo, YSlow lets you find out more about your website’s speed and how to improve it. 
    • WebPageTest: shows you a detailed report of your page’s load performance, together with a checklist of things to improve. 
  • Webmaster Tools: shows your site speed as experienced by different users from all around the world. You get to see how your website is performing in different parts of the world. 

All these suggestions come straight from the horse’s mouth, Google. They’re free and some of the best ways to test your site for speed. 

So, how do you get your site to load up fast?

You can start by cleaning up the site’s HTML code.

Use PageSpeed Insights to find out if there’s any problem with your site’s HTML code. 

How to Perform a Mobile SEO Audit 4

Remember, you’re not just analyzing your homepage for speed, but every single one of your webpages, one-by-one (especially the popular ones). 

Next, crunch your images. Heavy images will bog down your website. So, use a tool like Kraken to compress them. 

You should also consider upgrading your hosting plan. If you’re only paying $10/m to host your website, then don’t expect it to load quite the same as someone paying $200/m. 

9# Delete Zombie Pages

All you have to do is type your website’s name into Google, and they’ll show you how many of your pages they have indexed. 

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You probably know how many pages you have on your website. So, if it turns out that they have indexed more pages than the number you know, then it’s highly likely that’s a case of zombie pages.

Turns out, most sites have 50% to 70% more index pages than the actual number of pages. 

By deleting these pages, you can significantly improve your SEO performance and the amount of organic traffic your website gets.

So, why does this work?

Google has reiterated again and again that more content doesn’t always translate to more traffic. 

By deleting zombie pages, Google will have an easier time deciding what to rank. 

Plus, fewer pages make SEO auditing easier. Few pages also translate to fewer SEO problems, and so on.

Here are a few common examples of zombie pages (pages that have absolutely no value, but still appear on Google search results):

  • Archive pages
  • Search result pages
  • Category and tag pages (WordPress)
  • Think content (pages with content that’s less than 50 words)
  • Boilerplate content
  • Old press releases

10# Fix Indexing Problems

The next thing you want to do is check to see if there’s any webpage that Google didn’t index. 

It’s time to fire up Google Search Console (GSC). 

In the “Index Coverage” report, you’ll be provided with a list of pages that Google hasn’t indexed. 

Be sure to double-check it with a free SEO tool such as Screaming Frog.

What happens is that Screaming Frog will scroll your website the same way Google does. They’ll then let you know which of your pages are hard to access.

They’ll let you know if the page has a “no index” tag or if you’re accidentally blocking it with the robots.txt file. 

If it turns out that there’s a blocked page on your site, don’t be quick to fix it. Maybe there’s a reason you decided to block it in the first place. 

You want to double-check everything and make sure the page wasn’t supposed to be blocked before you can go ahead and unblock it. 

11# How Much Organic Traffic is the Site Getting?

Here’s where you analyze the organic traffic your site is getting. 

Google Analytics is everything you need for this.

Just head over to Google Analytics ~> Acquisition ~> All Traffic ~> Channels

Click on Organic Traffic.

You should be able to see how many people visited your website from Google search the past month.

Now, try playing around with dates by setting the date to the last 6 months or so. 

You should be able to see how your traffic has been trending within that period. 

No need to worry if your traffic has plateaued for a long time. The only reason you’re doing this is to establish a benchmark.

And once you’re done with the mobile SEO audit and fixed some of the suggestions made, your traffic will gradually begin to improve.

12# On-page SEO

It’s time to focus on one of the most important elements of SEO.

If you’re like everybody else, then you probably don’t have the time to fix every single page on our website. 

Fortunately, that’s not what we intend to make you do.

Instead, we’ll suggest you identify the 5 most important or best-performing pages.

These are pages that:

  • Target your primary or most important keywords
  • Have seen the sharpest drop in traffic
  • Are already doing well, but you can see an opportunity for them to do even better

You’d be surprised to find out that one of your pages has been doing really well, despite you not doing much in terms of optimization. That’s one of the pages to focus on. 

Now, it’s time to optimize the pages. Here’s what we suggest you do:

  • Include your primary keyword in the title tag
  • Make sure your keyword appears in the first 100 words of your content
  • Make sure the page has at least five external links
  • Add five internal links to the website
  • Use LSI Keywords

After you’re done with these strategies, then the next thing you want to do is to set up a keyword rank tool. 

13# Start Tracking Your Ranking in the SERPs

You don’t have to wait to start tracking your keywords in the SERPs. After you’re done optimizing your key pages, just get straight for it. Use your current rank position as your benchmark. 

You have millions of keywords tracking tools out there you can use.

But we suggest you go with SEMrush.

The reason being SEMrush does so much more than just track your keywords.

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Besides helping you track your keywords; the tool can automatically find the keywords that your site happens to already rank for.

14# Analyze Your Backlinks

Backlinks are so important in the world of SEO.

A recent study by backlinko found out that backlinks correlate with ranking more than all the other rank factors.

So, how do you analyze your website’s link profile?

Well, you need a backlink analysis tool for this.

You have a few options to go with, but none of them beats Ahrefs. 

The other options include Moz Pro and Majestic SEO. 

All you have to do is enter your website and you’ll be provided with a detailed report on your link profile. 

15# Check Referring Domains and Their Domain Authority (DA)

While at it, you also want to check referring domains and their domain authority.

Referring domain refers to the number of websites that link back to your website. 

Don’t be stressed when the number is low. Again, the only reason we’re doing this is to benchmark.

Be sure to also check out Domain Authority. 

Some tools call it Domain Rating, but the idea is pretty much the same.

Domain authority will tell you how much authority the site has based on the quantity and quality of links it has. 

That’s not all. 

16# Look for Toxic Links

Be sure to also look out for toxic links.

For this, you want to look at common anchor texts. 

If the most common anchor text is your brand, such as “MediaOneMarketing” or “MediaOneMarketing.com.sg,” then that’s a good sign.

But if most of the anchor texts are “keyword-based,” then that’s a toxic link profile. 

Be sure to go through the backlinks one by one, and make sure that most of the backlinks are from real sites. Bonus points if the sites are in the same niche as you. 

But if the links appear to be from shady sites, then do yourself a favour and disavow them. 

Note: Don’t beat yourself up when you spot a few spammy links on your website. They’re a normal part of any link profile. Just disavow them and move to the next thing.

Look for Broken Links and Fix them

Google made it clear a few years ago that they’re not bothered by broken links.

But while this won’t directly affect your ranking, it’s bad for the user experience. It may also hurt your SEO, although indirectly.

So, how do you get your broken links fixed?

Well, you first have to identify them. Luckily for you, you have the Google Search Console (GSC) to help you out with that. Just head over to GSC ~> “Index Report.”

The point is to make sure you’re always in the clear. 

If the links are a result of the zombie pages you deleted, then you don’t have to do anything. Eventually, Google will stop showing them on their result pages.

You can Also Use Ahrefs

Ahrefs is another great tool for identifying broken links, both internal and external ones.

Alternatively, you could use Broken Link Check.

 

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