Mobile SEO: The Complete Beginner’s Guide (2021)

by Nikita Shevchenko

In this Mobile SEO guide for beginners, I am going to show you how to optimize your website for mobile.

Specifically, I will tell you:

  • How to make your website mobile-friendly
  • How to improve mobile UX
  • And how to rank high in mobile search

Let’s start!

Mobile SEO Basics

Before optimizing your website for mobile I need to make sure that we are on the same page.

To help you with this process let me explain some key points.

Starting with…

What is Mobile SEO?

Mobile SEO is the process of optimizing your website for people who visit your website using mobile phones and tablets.

Mobile SEO also allows your website to get crawled by search engine spiders eliminating any errors.

Mobile SEO Importance

So why is mobile SEO important?

Below I am giving you three big reasons:

Reason #1: Mobile Search Is Bigger

The number of users browsing the internet using smartphones has been rising exponentially.

In fact, a recent study has shown that nearly 58% of users prefer using mobile phones to surf the internet. (Source)

mobile devices vs desktops mobile seo

A huge number of web users prefer to use Google Voice Search.

Reason #2: Mobile Search Brings More Sales

Mobile visitors tend to buy more than desktop users. (Source)

A mobile-optimized website improves user experience dramatically.

It is especially true for local searches.

Reason #3: Mobile SEO Affects Voice Search

There are many more local searches performed via mobile than desktops. (Source)

This means if you are a local business owner, you should optimize your website for mobile right now!

Why optimize for mobile?

There are numerous benefits the mobile-optimized website can bring to bloggers of all levels.

Among them are:

  • Increased dwell-time
  • Decreased bounce rate
  • Good website traffic
  • Improved UX
  • High conversion rates
  • Fast website speed
  • Great search engine performance
  • Local SEO Boost

Google’s Mobile-First Index

Having a mobile-responsive website is more important than ever.

Mobile-first indexing suggests that Google uses the mobile version of the website for indexing and ranking.

The very fact that more web searches happen on mobile made Google start to use the mobile version of the web as their primary search engine index because Google wants its data to represent the majority of its searchers – mobile users. (Source)

Bottom line:

Now, Google crawls the web from a mobile browser view and not the desktop browser view.

What does it mean for bloggers?

It means that you should keep the mobile version of the website in your mind first. It is more important than the desktop version.

With that said, let’s find out how to make your website 100% mobile-ready.

How to Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

When it comes to making your website mobile-friendly you pretty much have 3 ways to do it:

  • Dynamic serving
  • Separate URLs
  • Responsive Design

Way #1: Dynamic Serving

Dynamic serving used to be a very popular option in recent years. A lot of bloggers found it as the best way to optimize their website for mobile.

Your website content is on one URL. And different HTML/CSS are shown for users that access the website from different devices.

Dynamic Serving mobile seo

That said, there are obvious downsides of this method:

  • Occasionally, mobile users can see a desktop version
  • You need to create a new version of the content for new devices. New iPhone just came out? Be ready to get your hands dirty.

So let’s skip this option and go to the next one.

Way #2: Separate URLs

Separate URLs configuration or an “M” configuration allows your website to have 2 separate versions – one for desktop users and one for mobile users(M.).

So if the users access your website with a mobile phone the site shows them the mobile version. The same rule applies to desktop users.

M.” configuration separate urls mobile seo

The reason I don’t recommend using Separate URLs is that it is very complicated from an SEO standpoint.

  • You have to use different URLs for every website page
  • You need to implement complex tags
  • There is a big chance that you can make mistakes that will ruin your website technical SEO
  • And finally, Google itself is against it:

“Google doesn’t recommend Separate URLs as a site setup because it’s difficult to implement and maintain. Consider Responsive Web Design instead.” (Source)

Alright Google, what is responsive design exactly?

Way #3: Responsive Design (Best Option)

Responsive design is the best way to make your website mobile-friendly.

No matter what device the visitors are using they will access your website effortlessly and see the best version for their device.

mobile friendly website mobile seo

You no longer have to use different HTML/CSS and separate URLs.

On top of that, there are numerous benefits of having responsive design:

  • All content = One URL
  • Zero redirects
  • No hustle with tags
  • Improved UX

You may be wondering:

How to get my website mobile-responsive?

Quick answer – Buy a responsive WordPress theme.

Fortunately, there are tons of options on the theme market right now. I use GeneratePress($49.95/year). It is ultra-fast and 100% mobile-responsive, which means it looks great on all devices.

You can use this link to get 10% discount.

generatepress themes mobile seo

How to Optimize Your Website For Mobile

Congratulations! Your website is mobile-friendly now.

The next thing you need to do is to optimize your Mobile website for SEO.

And the first task for us will be to…

Fix Website Crawlability Issues

If Google cannot fully crawl(see) your content it can’t tell if your website is mobile-friendly or not.

The result?

You will never be able to rank with Google Mobile-First index.

The solution?

Check your Robot.txt file. It is usually located in a

niktiashevchenko robots file mobile seo

You can also use Google Search Console(GSC) or your SEO plugin to check it.

1 Head over to GSC and click on “Coverage – Excluded“.

gsc coverage mobile seo

2 See if you block any important pages. If not, move on to the next step.

niktiashevchenko exluded pages report mobile seo

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

A great free tool provided by Google.

As the name states, it shows you if your website is mobile-friendly.

1 Head over to Mobile-Friendly Test and type in your website URL.

google mobile friendly test mobile seo

2 If you see this result, you are good to go.

page is mobile friendly report mobile seo

Google’s Mobile Usability Test

This helpful tool that you can find in Google Search Console(GSC) can tell you if you have any issues with mobile usability.

1 Go to GSC and click on the “Mobile Usability” at the left sidebar.

gsc mobile usability tool mobile seo

2 Google tells you if mobile users have any problems using your site.

google search console mobile usability mobile seo

Specifically, it can let you know if:

  • Clickable elements too close together
  • Content wider than screen
  • Text too small to read
  • You use Flash

Serve Mobile-Friendly Pop-Ups

If you work hard on your list building(which you should) chances are that you may use pop-ups here and there.

There is nothing wrong if you serve them on desktop devices but there should be a slightly different approach for mobile users.

Let me tell you one thing:

Google hates pop-ups. Period.

It hates it to such an extent that it recently introduced an update that punishes websites with low-quality interstitials. (Source)

Example of low-quality interstitials from Google:

examples of low quality interstitials mobile seo

But you may avoid these penalties by introducing high-quality pop-ups to your users that are:

  • Not too big
  • Easy-to-dismiss

Example of high-quality interstitials from Google:

examples of high quality interstitials mobile seo

If you want to create these kinds of high-standard banners you may use Thrive Leads plugin for WordPress.

They look great on all devices and optimized for speed.

I use it here on NikitaShevchenko and it cost me 67$(lifetime access).

Check Your Mobile Website Look

All technical aspects are done!

Now we need to check how your website actually looks on different devices.

We will use the Resizer tool.

nikitashevchenko website look mobile seo

Your website looks great? Awesome!

Let’s optimize your mobile website for user experience now.

How to Improve Mobile User Experience(UX)

You already know that mobile users get the lion’s share of your website visitors.

Needless to say, your job is to make them happy.

How do you keep mobile visitors satisfied?

Improve Mobile UX!

Let’s begin with the most important tasks.

Boost Mobile Site Speed

Does mobile speed matter?

You bet it does!

In fact, the guys from Google advise you to deliver and render the above the fold (ATF) content in under one second, which allows the user to begin interacting with the page as soon as possible. (Source)

It is not easy to achieve, but absolutely possible!

Here are the exact steps:

1 Check your mobile site speed.

What Gets Measured Gets Improved.

Let’s begin speed optimization with a detailed checkup.

First, head over to Google PageSpeed Insights, enter your website URL and click on the “Analyze” button.

google pagespeed insights tool mobile seo

Second, check your results(for mobile!) and note the adjustments you need to make.

google pagespeed insights score mobile seo

There is one more interesting tool from Google that helps you find out your mobile site speed.

First, visit ThinkWithGoogle, type in your site URL and click Enter.

thinkwithgoogle tool mobile seo

Second, check your results and the speed optimization tips below.

testmysite tool results mobile seo

As you can see, I have some work to do.

2 Follow the required steps.

Both tools have shown you the exact adjustments you need to make for having a fast mobile site.

Now when you know what elements to tweak, you can pull your socks up and get to work or hire a freelancer.

Here are the most important things I would start with:

  • Reducing image sizes
  • Upgrading hosting package
  • Implementing browser caching
  • Removing unnecessary elements

I can go the extra mile and implement the steps from this speed-optimization guide.

Alright, let’s move on to an even more important part of mobile SEO, which is…

Mobile Content Optimization

Content is everything! It is also one of Google’s top three search ranking factors. (I assume it is the 1st one)

Therefore, it is crucial to optimize content for mobile users.

The good news is that you don’t need to make lots of content adjustments specifically for mobile users because many of them work great with both mobile and desktop visitors.

For example, you’ll need to:

  • Write helpful and insightful content that provides value
  • Create longer, in-depth content(>1500 words)
  • Optimize images for SEO
  • Write enticing headlines to increase CTR
  • Strategically place keywords within your articles

Small Post Thumbnail

This trick will make sure the visitors will stay longer on the page.

If the blog post header image is too big, the users are not able to see the main content of the webpage. It makes them irritated and they leave for good.

You need to give visitors something to grab on.

A greatly-written article intro is one of the best things you can show the visitor when he lands on the page.

Use Fat Finger Design

In other words, make your mobile site insanely easy to use on mobile and don’t stuff elements too close to each other.

Here is what you can do:

  • Text and background should have a big contrast
  • Use negative space (separate all elements so the website does not look messy)
  • Use really short paragraphs (1-4 lines per paragraph)
  • Go with a line length between 45-55 characters
  • Use at least 15px font

Social Share Images

This one is very fast to implement.

Instead of having your social sharing button at the top or bottom of the post, consider a floating option.

This way it will always be visible to mobile users and not really irritating.

I use Sassy Social Share.

Forget About Flash

This plugin is not available on your users’ phones and they won’t be able to see the necessary elements.

If you wish to create special effects, go with HTML5 instead.


Now as you have mastered the best mobile SEO practices, let’s try some ninja stuff!

Mobile SEO 2.0

This part of the guide will show you some advanced techniques that are available even for beginners.

Specifically, I am going to show how to:

  • Write killer Titles and Descriptions optimized for mobile
  • Implement Schema for mobile
  • Use AMP Technology
  • Optimize for Local Search on mobile 
  • Create Mobile Sitemaps

Let’s dive in!

Mobile-Optimized Titles and Descriptions

If the vast majority of your website visitors use mobile devices to access your site, you will like this tip!

So here is the deal:

Google provides more space to show your title tag on mobile than on desktop.

Desktop Title 70 Characters vs. Mobile Title 78 Characters

Basically, it means that you can optimize your article title for long-tail keywords and CTR by taking advantage of bigger space in SERP.

Note: You will get your title cut in SERP on desktops so use this strategy only if the big chunk of your blog visitors access your site via mobile.

The next thing you want to take care of is leveraging Schema.

Schema Structured Data for Mobile

Implementing Schema structured data for mobile can be one of the best things you can do to make sure your articles stand out in the SERP.

They make your content highly visible in Google by adding some noticeable features to your title tag and description such as:

  • Rating stars
  • Dates
  • Recipe images
  • Location
  • and more
Schema Structured Data on Mobile mobile seo

How to use Schema markup on a website?

One of the easiest ways to use Schema markup on a website is by installing RankMath SEO plugin.

It is a user-friendly plugin that allows you to integrate Schema structured data effortlessly.

AMP Technology

Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP have a significant impact on your webpages by reducing all additional elements and making them load way faster.

Other benefits of an AMP technology are higher-search rankings(presumably) and a little icon next to the SERP result that can increase organic click-through-rate.

That said, I do no recommend jumping onto the AMP train.


Because there are numerous big restrictions it can put on your website. Among them are:

  • Inability to have full control over the ads
  • Absence of pop-ups(even optimized for mobile)
  • Mediocre content look(due to CSS control)
  • Link profile worsening

A lot of people nowadays(especially in the U.S.) have the latest models of smartphones in their possessions.

Those phones support LTE plus 5G technology is coming really soon. (Source)

My verdict, it is not necessary to implement the AMP technology if you don’t wish to trade your website functionality for increased speed on mobile devices and a little spike in organic CTR.

Local Search on Mobile

A lot of local searches are performed on mobile devices so if your business doesn’t rank well for those searches, you are losing clients.

So if you want to rank high in local search on mobile you need an actionable plan that will help you achieve this result.

Here it is:

1 Do local keyword research that makes sense.

Keywords for mobile and keywords for desktop are different. So you need to change your approach when it comes to mobile SEO.

One of the best ways to find great keywords is by using Google Ads.

  • First, open AdWords and click on the “Keywords” tab.
  • Then, select Search Terms.
  • Next, click on the “Segment” drop-down menu.
  • Finally, choose “Device“.

You will see the exact queries people entered.

2Ask your customers

Another great way is by asking your existing customers what phrases would they use to find your business.

Use common sense to filter irrelevant information and pick up the finest options.

This simple keyword research is one of the finest methods to help your business stand out in local search.

What steps from this Mobile SEO guide will you implement first?

Shoot me a comment below!

Also, add me on LinkedIn or follow me on Instagram, I share some useful stuff there 😉

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