February 29, 2024

Does Mobile Optimisation Affect SEO?

In the modern digital age, more and more people are browsing the internet using their mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. A large number of people still browse online using their desktop, however Google now gives websites that are mobile friendly better ranking than others. So, does mobile optimisation affect SEO? Can a site’s mobile performance affect the site’s ranking?

Yes, optimising a website for mobile traffic does affect SEO. Google introduced ‘mobile-first indexing’ in 2018, which signified a shift in SEO to prioritise mobile friendly websites. It is now a necessity that businesses carry out mobile optimisation to ensure that their website remains competitive on a search engine’s results page. Mobile optimisation improves user experience, reduces load times and increases mobile traffic, all of which Google rewards websites for.

Keep reading to find out more about mobile optimisation and how it affects SEO, and also how poor mobile optimisation can affect a website’s ranking.

Jump to:

How Does Mobile Optimisation Impact SERP Rankings?

Fifteen  years ago, mobile devices were not even a consideration for web developers. Flash forward to the current day, and there is an ever-growing number of people that are using mobile devices – including tablets – to surf the net. Web developers and SEO professionals alike now appreciate that optimising a website for mobile users is no longer an advantage, but a necessity. 

Mobile-First Indexing

Google’s introduction of ‘mobile-first indexing’ only emphasises this shift. Mobile-first indexing simply means that Google will crawl a website as though it were browsing on a mobile device, and will read content as the average mobile user would. Therefore if a website is not optimised for mobile users, Google will recognise this and the website may not rank as highly as others. Mobile optimisation involves a series of methods to ensure that a website is mobile friendly.

What are the Key Goals of Mobile Optimisation?

Mobile optimisation is carried out to ensure that a website is as mobile friendly as possible, with the overall aim of improving a website’s ranking. For example, by improving user experience, the engagement rate of a website should increase. This tells Google that a website is providing value to its users. 

Similarly, by improving site speed, mobile users are less likely to leave the website they are trying to load in favour of a quicker one. According to Google’s own research, 53% of users will abandon a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Considering these goals and performing mobile optimisation can result in increased organic traffic and improved rankings. 

How Does Poor Mobile Optimisation Affect SEO Ranking?

So, we know what the overall aim of mobile optimisation is. We also know that in 2023, 59.25 million mobile internet users were recorded. Mobile friendly websites are more important now than ever before. But how does a web crawler recognise a website with poor mobile optimisation?

Site Speed

As mentioned above, mobile users are prone to changing websites if a page takes too long to load. A Google crawler will identify websites that take too long to load, and will treat them as having poor site speed. By minimising redirects and requests, resizing or compressing images, using native web technology and checking the hosting solution, site speed can be improved.

To find out more about the importance of site speed and how to check it, take a look at our detailed blog.

Onpage Content

There can be content missing between a desktop and mobile site, which is a red flag for search crawlers. The mobile and desktop versions of a website should show the same content. Checking a website’s robots.txt file will show whether any of the essential elements are disallowed. It is also vital that any multimedia content is playable, and consider whether this content could be affecting site speed.

To find out more about the importance of robots.txt and how to check it, take a look at our detailed blog.

Structured Data

A website that is not using structured data – such as Schema – is missing out on a critical driver of organic CTR. Often providing rich snippets that receive high engagement rates from users, structured data also provides Google with more information that makes it easier to crawl a website.

To find out more about structured data, take a look at our detailed blog.

Interstitials

Interstitials are the pop-up advertisements that can be intrusive. If these pop-ups are preventing a user from navigating the site easily or impacting the Cumulative Layout Shift, Google will recognise this. Some interstitials will not affect ranking, such as those that are legally necessary like age verification and cookie usage pop-ups. 

Redirects

A significant indicator of a website that has not been properly optimised for mobile users is the redirects that are in place. For example, if a mobile user is taken to the desktop version of a webpage and is not redirected to the mobile version, this will negatively impact the user’s experience. The easiest way to avoid issues like these is to make sure a website is responsive as opposed to having separate domains for mobile and desktop. Furthermore, any time when a mobile user receives a 404 error for a page that a desktop user would be able to see will also impact site rankings.

To find out more about redirects, take a look at our detailed blog.

User Experience

A site must be mobile friendly to rank highly, as Google crawls in a mobile-first manner. This means that poor User Experience (UX) will impact your rankings. For example, by not specifying the correct viewport using a viewport meta tag, users may be presented with a page that does not fit their screen. Enabling user scaling and controlling a page’s basic dimensions can rectify this.

Get Help From the Experts at Wildcat Digital

Our SEO services include a capability to correctly optimise your website for mobile users, and give your site a boost in the rankings. Contact us today to find out more about our available SEO services, and see how we can help to enhance your digital presence.

Post by

Andy Blanchard

More blogs.

View all