Today, 30% of all web searches are performed on a mobile device such as a phone or tablet. Clearly, standalone apps have failed to completely dominate mobile web traffic. Though it's impossible to ignore the growth of mobile search, quite a few marketers are failing to optimize sites for the mobile web. In the mobile sphere, the rules of effective SEO are a little different from what most SMBs and marketers are used to. The following mobile SEO tips will give you a head start on the competition as far as organic search is concerned.
Avoid Duplicate Content
The infamous Panda and Penguin algorithm updates as well as a few notable others from Google have made duplicate content a serious liability in recent years. Preventing penalties incurred by duplicate content can be especially tricky for mobile sites. Fortunately, it's not difficult to sidestep duplicate content issues in practice. For starters, use rel=canonical tags to designate one version of your content as being definitive. In addition, 301 redirects will allow you to field mobile-friendly sites without stepping on the toes of your original, desktop-focused pages.
Tighten Your Keyword Tail
Marketers have been optimizing content and campaigns around keywords for so long that many are too reliant on "the Long Tail." With most traditional SEO efforts, the key to competing with the big boys in any market is to narrow your niche. This approach rarely works in the mobile SEO game since many mobile users typically employ shorter search phrases. In addition, their queries are typically focused on a more local market. Whatever user demographic you're going after, put yourself in their shoes when tailoring mobile content for specific keywords.
Focus on User Experience
One of the best ways to boost your mobile sites' rankings in the SERPs is by spending more time optimizing layouts to improve ease-of-use. Nearly 80% of large companies online lack a mobile-optimized site. Putting out a fantastic mobile site is the best way to differentiate yourself in a crowded market. Clear-cut site navigation and straightforward calls to action are an absolute must. Above all else, trimming the fat from sites so that they load as quickly as possible is critical. It's been demonstrated that an added second of page-loading time can decrease overall page views by 9.4%.
Fine-Tune Your URL Structure
How you decide to structure your URL hierarchy can make a big difference in overall SEO health. One can choose to either take the responsive design route and serve up the same URL to visitors regardless of their device or send mobile users to mobile-specific URLs. Be sure to apply rel="canonical" tags to the desktop version of a page when using separate URLs. Furthermore, be sure to use the rel="alternate" tag when redirecting mobile users. As long as you're consistent with your URL structure, it doesn't matter which route you opt for.
Making Mobile Search a Priority
Whether you rely solely on content marketing or prefer a mix of paid methods like Pay Per Click or Pay Per Call, optimizing sites for mobile search is imperative. Though building mobile sites is child's play nowadays thanks to tools like PhoneGap and GoMobi, you'll still need to put in some legwork to ensure that they conform to the latest SEO best practices. The guidelines detailed above are a good place to start. Mastering mobile SEO now will help you immensely in the future when mobile search really takes off.