A mobile SEO audit that focuses on more technical elements of your site should be equally important to your online strategy as your traditional desktop strategy. Below, we’ve compiled a checklist to ensure your mobile site is as strong as it can be.
Check Your Responsive Elements
Your first priority is to ensure your mobile users are able to experience your content in the intended way based on the width of their device. You can use an online tool like ScreenQueries to see what your site looks to your various audiences.
You want to also keep user experience in mind (I know, what a unique concept). To elaborate, you might want to include a hyperlink to call a phone number if your user is on a mobile device, but it might be more practical to direct a desktop visitor to a contact page.
Mobile devices also do better with summarized content rather than long-form. Don’t go too crazy hacking and slashing your content, though, as Google is now including the mobile version of your side when ranking your pages.
Get Your Robots.txt in Order
The Googlebot crawling your page needs to be told where to go, even with mobile SEO. That can be done with your robot.txt file, which is placed in the root folder of the subdomain (e.g. domain.com/robots.txt). For a refresher on robots.txt, click here.
Different search engines use different robots crawlers, most of which can be found here.
When you set up a mobile site with a different URL than the desktop, make sure your robots.txt is set to include specific files and folders.
Redirects for Dynamic Serving Sites
Redirects for Dynamic Serving Sites is when all devices access a single URL but output different content based on responsive design and device being used. This is beneficial if you want to serve different HTML that can be targeted by a type of device. To do this, implement user-agent based redirects that can provide content to mobile users and Googlebot.
If you’re considering creating notably different content on the mobile version than the corresponding desktop page, then you should make two separate pages provide appropriate redirects based on visiting URL A (desktop) or URL B (mobile). Here, URL A should redirect to URL B if the site is being accessed on a mobile.
Canonicalisation For Separate Mobile Sites
Canonicalisation is the most critical tag to use for websites that have a mobile version serving at a separate URL. To refresh, a canonical tag deals with duplicate content by defining the “preferred URL” to index within search engine results pages. Canonicalisation is essential when multiple URLs retrieve extremely similar, if not identical, content.
The canonical URL should direct to the desktop version of a given page. Desktop versions are generally used as the “primary” site when compared to the mobile site, so it will automatically handle any duplicate content problems when links point to the mobile URL.
Mobile XML Sitemap Submission
XML Sitemaps inform search engines about the indexable content on your site. An XML Sitemap of some sort should be submitted to Google Search Console.
The good news is, XML Sitemaps now support mobile. This is best for independent mobile sites to ensure that the different URL set is submitted, but can still be utilized for dynamic serving and responsive sites. Click here to see a sample of a mobile XML Sitemap from Google.
Mobile SEO Audit Tools
Below I have curated a list of tools that go above and beyond a traditional SEO audit. These tools deal with mobile SEO considerations and could be instrumental in helping you meet your goals.
WooRank allows you to see mobile-based results in its own Website Reviewer. You can inspect how your website looks in different devices or if your mobile speed is optimized. Although this tool is mainly based on usability, you can get some meaningful insights.
The Mobile Usability section within Google’s Search Console allows you to quickly identify any pain points, including areas of content that are wider than the screen, or clickable elements that are too close together.
Site speed is always a giant factor in mobile rankings, so check your load speeds, mobile specifically, with this tool.
Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider offers a User Agent Configuration where you can choose Googlebot mobile.
Always bear in mind that SEO, mobile and general, is constantly evolving. You can always make changes and improvements no matter how many times you audit a website. The important thing is only that you start.
About the Author: Courtney McGhee is the Lead Marketer at WooRank bringing years of experience in Digital Marketing, News Reporting, and Social Media. She switched gears after 7years as a journalist to join the ever-changing world of SEO.