To understand how mobile SEO and desktop SEO strategies work together, think of a successful SEO strategy as being like a large jigsaw puzzle with many pieces that rely on one another to create the big picture. Mobile optimization is just one piece of the puzzle.
Without it, you have a large hole in your SEO big picture. On the other hand, get mobile optimization right and your website big picture becomes less imperfect over all. Get your site less imperfect than your competitors’ sites, and now you’re ranking above the fold on page one of the search engine results page — exactly where you want to be.
Comparing mobile results to desktop results
Mobile search results are the results that users see when they search the web using mobile devices. Sometimes mobile and desktop search results can look very similar. This is because Google uses one search algorithm to analyze and rank both desktop and mobile results.
Other times, mobile search results can look very different from desktop results. This is because Google and Bing use a number of independently weighted ranking factors within their algorithms, and because the search engines strongly consider mobile friendliness when determining the order of their mobile search engine results.
Optimizing to rank in mobile search results
Up to this point in Book IV, we discuss the principals of mobile‐friendly website design. In this section, we tell you about the mobile optimization tactics that can help your mobile‐friendly website rank higher in mobile search engine results. Yes; mobile friendliness and mobile optimization are not the same things. Making your site mobile friendly is the act of making sure that your site is designed to deliver an optimal user experience for your mobile searcher.
Making your site mobile optimized means thinking about the factors that can help your site rank higher in search engine results pages — such as making sure that you’re using keywords, optimizing for local search, and granting search engine spiders access to your content.
Make your website mobile friendly
For instance, make sure that your text is large enough to be read without zooming, your content is sized to fit the mobile device, and all your elements are designed for touch. In the section “Testing Mobile Friendliness”, later in this chapter, we show you how to use the mobile‐friendly test in Google Search Console.
Don’t use Flash on your mobile site
Many mobile devices cannot render Flash, which means that device users are out of luck if they run into a piece of content that relies on Flash. Even on devices that do support Flash, it significantly slows down load times, which can mean a major drop in rank. Instead of Flash, we recommend using HTML5 to build interactive elements
Improving site speed
According to the Page Speed Insights portion of the Google Developers help site, Google prefers above‐the‐fold content (what the user sees first) to render in under a second for a mobile user. Anything longer than a second, Google says, can result in a poor user experience. The search engines care a lot about user experience, so fast load times really matter when Google determines which of the least imperfect websites to rank the highest.
Optimizing for proximity
Search engines are always working to return results that give users exactly what they need, when they need it. For mobile users, this means returning local results that take location into consideration.
Distinguishing mobile content from desktop content
You always want Google to lead searchers to the version of your website that offers the best user experience. This means that you never want Google to return your mobile site to a desktop user, and — unless no mobile alternative exists — you don’t want the desktop version returned to a mobile user.
Google appends a “Mobile‐friendly” label to mobile search results listings that are optimized for mobile user experience. You’re safe to assume that not having the mobile‐friendly label makes a site less imperfect — which often means a rank demotion.