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How usability fits in the mobile SEO mix

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SEO / April 18, 2018

If you’ve read the previous two posts in our mobile SEO series, by now you understand the urgency of making sure your website is mobile friendly. Since 2015, Google has factored a website’s mobile usability into its ranking algorithm. With the future rollout of its mobile first index, Google will first be using the mobile version of a site to rank its pages in the search results.

Starting now, this makes mobile SEO one of your biggest priorities.

But how, exactly, does Google decide whether a website is user mobile-friendly enough to deserve a higher ranking in its index? Relevant content is always a good start. And there are some very specific tweaks you can focus on. After that, Google uses a surprisingly simple combination of user metrics and machine learning to decide if your website is making searchers happy.

Quality content

While once upon a time all you needed was keyword-rich content to tell the engines that you were a good solution to someone’s query, Google has become considerably more discerning. Now the engine can see how we respond to and engage with a search result, and rank your site accordingly.

To understand engagement, Google is interested in your clickthrough rate, your bounce rate, and visitors’ time on site. Do searchers get seduced by the call to action in your search result title and description? After clicking, do they stick around spend some quality time on your site? Google knows.

Make them click

Every page on your website needs to have a compelling call to action in the search results. Craft these by writing clever meta titles and descriptions, which get fed directly into search results. Never duplicate your meta titles and descriptions across multiple pages. Write unique copy for each page, telling visitors why they should click and what they can expect when they land on your page.

Make sure they stay

The quality of your user experience will determine how well people engage with your site after that first click. This is doubly relevant on mobile devices, which as we all know, present unique usability challenges and solutions.

Thanks to machine learning, Google is teaching itself to identify and prioritize pages based on user behaviour and the quality of your content. The learning curve involved with making your website more usable on mobile devices will serve you on so many levels, including, hopefully, keeping you on top of Google’s own algorithmic learning curve.

Make sure it’s easy

Mobile usability requires a commitment to radical simplicity. Begin by defining your objectives… and your visitors’ objectives (we hope they align!). Your number one task is to make it as easy as humanly possible for your visitors to meet these objectives using their mobile phone. Streamline the process, and minimize the number of steps required to complete any necessary task. Yes, that includes streamlining your shopping cart and check-out.

Make it an ongoing process

When organizations fall behind on their usability and/or SEO, it’s often due to the same misunderstanding; that you paid money to update your website, and now you’re good. Optimization is not a once-every-two-years update; it’s a process. Your content and IT team need to be continually learning and working together, testing and optimizing, making incremental improvements. This will ensure that you are ready for whatever comes along — be it a new device, an algorithm update or something entirely unanticipated.

Read the previous two articles in our series on mobile SEO: Google to index mobile first: what you need to know and Your mobile SEO checklist: seven ways to get your site more mobile love.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandre Maupu

SEO Analyst @ Bloom

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