“Mobile friendly” and “mobile optimization” sound similar enough that they could refer to pretty much the same thing. But just like the terms “organic,” “all-natural,” and “farm fresh” don’t always mean what you think they do at the grocery store, the terms that your SEO consultant uses for mobile SEO services can be fairly confusing. Our goal today is to give you a better idea of what these two terms mean specifically, and help you out as you decide which one your local SEO strategy really needs.
The Starting Point
To start with, let’s describe what your website looks like if it is neither mobile friendly nor mobile optimized. That would mean that it was designed to appear in a web browser on a standard computer screen, and if someone visits the site on their smartphone, it will be kind of like looking through a magnifying glass. The visitor will only see part of the site at a time, and clicking on buttons, menu bar items, and text links will be difficult or impossible. With average daily mobile device usage surpassing computer usage in some studies, it’s hard to think of a business that could afford to ignore mobile devices as it designs a local SEO strategy!
A Mobile Friendly Local SEO Strategy
If a website is “mobile friendly,” that means that it is designed to work well on both platforms: computer screens and mobile devices. On a computer screen, a mobile friendly site looks bigger, simpler, and less text-based than the websites we are accustomed to seeing. That’s because when the page is shrunk to fit on a smartphone screen, the buttons and navigation elements need to be big enough to easily see and touch. You’ll also find yourself scrolling vertically a lot more on a mobile friendly site, because most people hold their phones vertically and scroll up and down with the thumb while reading web content.
The top level of quality in mobile SEO services is a mobile optimized website. If you open a mobile optimized site on your desktop computer and your smartphone at the same time, they will appear to be two different websites in terms of their structure, navigation systems, orientation of content, and many other details. The website comes in two different versions, one that works well on a computer screen and one that is “optimized” for mobile users. This way, all visitors to the website get the best possible experience and can easily find the information they are looking for.
Obviously, mobile optimization is the more involved of the two options, involving more design work and the ongoing maintenance of more content. But the prevalence of mobile device Internet access and the fierce competition for mobile users’ attention means that anything less than a totally intuitive, convenient mobile experience can drive potential customers away from your website very quickly.
Analyzing Your Local SEO Strategy Needs
That being said, it may be that your particular audience does not demand a fully optimized mobile site. If research has shown that 80 percent of your visitors found your website through a keyword search on a desktop computer, a mobile friendly website may be completely sufficient for your needs, serving those 80 percent very well while ensuring that the 20 percent using mobile devices also have a functional site to look at on their small screens. Your SEO consultant, after conducting research and analyzing the performance of your direct competitors online, can walk you through these decisions, as well as many others related to your local SEO strategy.
There is another important reason to make your local SEO strategy either mobile friendly or optimized: Google now heavily favors those websites in keyword search results over sites that ignore their appearance on mobile devices. It’s a natural move by the search engine to serve its customers as well as possible, as so many of those customers are doing business on their smartphones. However, it means that if your website is due for a redesign, it’s a responsible move to take mobile optimization into account. Email us today and ask us more about how your business can reach both computer and mobile users equally effectively!