Mobile SEO: mobile first and the most important ranking factors

Mobile SEO: mobile first and the ranking factors

The growth of the mobile internet is unstoppable… Worldwide, more and more people are using their mobile phone to perform searches on Google, visit websites and make purchases on webshops. Of the just over 17 million inhabitants in the Netherlands in 2018, 16.38 million people were Internet users and 84% of this group used their mobile phone to surf the Internet. 

Research shows that on average we spend more than a month a year on our smartphones. The cell phone truly has become our best friend. We take it with us everywhere we go, even to the toilet.

Mobile SEO best friend

Apart from the fact that this trend has a major impact on our way of life, the SEO, ‘Search Engine Optimization’/Search Engine Optimization, ranking factors are also strongly influenced by this phenomenon. Many websites already receive more than half of their search traffic via mobile phones.

Google also sees that mobile searches have increased explosively in recent years. 

That is why websites are increasingly judged based on SEO ranking factors related to concepts such as ‘mobile first’ and ‘mobile friendliness’. Do you want to know what this means and what guidelines you should use to optimize your website for mobile traffic? Then read on or click below on the topic you want to know more about.

  1. Brief introduction SEO
  2. Mobile SEO
  3. Mobile Indexing
  4. Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines
  5. How WPupgrader can help you with your mobile SEO rankings

Brief introduction SEO

Ever wondered why one website in Google ranks better than another? The answer is SEO, which stands for the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website for internet users of a search engine. In essence, SEO ensures that your information, product or service matches the searches of internet users as well as possible. SEO also often refers to the improvement of unpaid results and excludes direct traffic through the purchase of advertisements.

This is how it works: Google (or any other search engine that performs a search) has a ‘crawler’ (a robot that searches the world wide web in a very methodical and automated way), which collects information about all the content it can find on the internet. The crawler brings all this data back to the search engine to build an index. That index is then fed through an algorithm that tries to match all the data with a specific search query. There are a lot of SEO factors that are relevant for this algorithm, just take a look at this article.

Mobile SEO

No distinction is made between the SEO ranking factors on the mobile phone or the desktop; the same principles apply to both devices. However, as relatively many searches and website visits are performed on the mobile phone these days, the experience on this device is becoming more and more important. Google and other search engines measure this experience based on a number of essential factors that you should definitely take into account when optimizing a website for mobile traffic. Don’t worry about this, because if your website is already optimized for search engines there are only a few things that need to be adjusted according to Google.

It is always a smart idea to check if your website gets a lot of mobile search traffic before you start optimizing your website. It could be that your website receives almost no mobile traffic, this differs from industry to industry (see the image below). If this is the case, it’s a shame to completely set up your website for mobile traffic. Researching your website traffic can be done with the tool Google Analytics.

Responsive web design

Advantages responsive web design

Creating a responsive website offers many advantages. For example, only one website needs to be developed and maintained for different devices and most of the content remains accessible on almost all devices, with focus on the mobile phone. 

Moreover, a responsive web design offers an optimal visitor experience on both smaller screens and larger screens with a (very) high resolution. As with dynamic websites, in a responsive web design there can also be chosen to omit less relevant content from mobile visitors in order to improve page speed. For example with heavy imagery or font files.

In addition to these benefits, Google indicates some other advantages of a responsive web design;

  • a responsive web design makes it easier for users to share content with the same URL and link to it;
  • a responsive web design helps assign Google’s algorithms accurate indexing properties to the web pages instead of investigating and indexing the existence of corresponding desktop or mobile pages;
  • it requires less time and energy to maintain multiple web pages with the same content;
  • a responsive web design does not require redirection of visitors to display a device optimized view, which ultimately reduces loading time;
  • and Google only needs to crawl a responsive web design website once, instead of multiple times to retrieve the content. This improvement in crawl efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of your site’s content and find all relevant content.

All in all, Google definitely recommends to go for a responsive web design, in order to score well in terms of mobile SEO and create the best user experience.

Mobile indexing

Another very important topic of mobile first is mobile indexing. It is very important that the Google crawler can fully index a website by not excluding JavaScript and CSS files from indexing in robots.txt. If you don’t do this, Google will not be able to determine whether the website is actually mobile friendly.

In 2020, Google indicated that their analyses show that most sites displayed in search results are suitable for mobile-first indexing. For example, 70% of the sites displayed in Google’s search results have already switched to mobile-first indexing. To make it easier, Google will switch to mobile-first indexing for all websites from September 2020. Google claims to still crawl with the traditional desktop Googlebot from time to time, but most crawling will be done with their smartphone user agent.

To check if your website complies with the mobile-first indexing features, it’s best to use the Google Search Console tools. For example, the status your mobile first indexing can be displayed on the settings page as well as in the URL inspection tool. In particular, Google recommends ensuring that the displayed content (including text, images, videos, links), metadata (titles and descriptions, robots meta tags) and all structured data are the same on both the mobile and desktop website.

 

Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines

SEO mobile ranking factors

There are several ways to make your website mobile-first easier and score well on the mobile SEO ranking factors. Below you’ll find 11 very important methods to do this:

 

  1. High page speed score: Ensure a high page speed score. This is a very important ranking factor and certainly for mobile traffic. When your website is too slow, Google will not only rate your website worse, but you will also miss a lot of visitors. If a page doesn’t load within three seconds, visitors will most likely abort the loading and go to a competitor’s website. This is especially true for webshops. Ways to improve the page speed score are: selecting a fast hoster (like Kinsta), reducing resources on HTML, CSS and JavaScript, optimizing images, limiting the number of redirects, enabling compression, using browser caching, improving the server response time, considering a Content Delivery Network and choosing a suitable (WordPress) theme. With this tool you can examine the page speed of your pages.
  2. Responsive web design: Always go for a responsive web design in the first place if you want to score as good as possible in the field of mobile SEO, here is explained why.
  3. Mobile friendliness analysis: Always test the mobile friendliness of your website with an analysis tool like the mobile friendliness test or the settings page of Google Search Console and improve the error messages.
  4. Delete unnecessary content: Delete all unimportant content on your website. Mobile visitors don’t feel like scrolling through long lists of unnecessary content, so always make sure you have a minimalistic and sleek landing page. This ensures a lower bounce rate, which can significantly improve the SEO of the website.
  5. Call to action buttons: Make sure your Call to action buttons work and give them a prominent place. In this way you don’t run the risk that visitors will leave because they couldn’t find what they came for fast enough.
  6. Clear pages: Work with clear buttons and (product) pages. For example, provide your pages with a logical categorization of content and do not put too many products on one page when you are running a webshop.
  7. Search bar at the top of the page: Make it easy for the visitor to search for specific content by placing the search bar clearly visible at the top of the page.
  8. Structured data: Use structured data from Schema.org. Because of the limited screen space on a mobile phone, a search result with rich snippets is even more striking than on a desktop. It is therefore recommended to take advantage of structured data such as rich snippets.
  9. Optimize titles and meta descriptions: Remember that when a visitor visits your website with a mobile phone, you have less screen space to work with. To score best in terms of mobile SEO, you need to be as concise as possible when creating titles, URLs and meta descriptions.
  10. Optimize for local search: If your business offers a local service or product, don’t forget to optimize the website for local search. This includes standardizing the name, address and phone number and including the name of your city in the metadata of your site.
  11. AMP: Make use of AMP (‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’) on your website where this is possible and appropriate. Read more about AMP here.

Besides the different ways to make your website mobile-first and score well  in the search results, it’s also useful for both visitors and search engines, that your website meets the following guidelines of Google;

  • notify Google when a page has been created for mobile search traffic. This helps Google to accurately display your content in search results for mobile traffic;
  • make sure your website does not block CSS, JavaScript or other  files. The Smartphone GoogleBot wants to see and categorize the same content as users, so don’t hide it. These elements are essential for Google to understand whether you have a responsive site or another mobile solution;
  • try to avoid common mistakes that really frustrate mobile visitors, such as displaying unplayable videos (for example Flash video as the main content of the page). Mobile pages that provide a poor search experience can be downgraded in the ranking or displayed with a warning in mobile search results; 
  • the text must be readable on the page without having to zoom in;
  • content should be scaled based on screen size;
  • do not bundle links in a small area 
  • avoid installing App Interstitials for mobile users as much as possible (e.g. a pop-up for downloading a particular app).

WP Upgrader can help you with your mobile SEO rankings

The above Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines can be a lot to process and perhaps also difficult to put into practice right away. At WP Upgrader we are happy to help you as our goal is to rank your (mobile) website in the search results for organic (mobile) search traffic as high as possible. We do this by applying our knowledge of the Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines to your website. So if you need help with the implementation of the SEO ranking factors, creating a responsive website or have certain questions about the Google guidelines, you can ask for help here

 

6 Plugins to Make Your WordPress Website GDPR-Proof

6 Plugins to Make Your WordPress Website GDPR-Proof

As the new privacy law — the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — is about to come into effect, all sorts of plugins are marketed to help you get GDPR compliant. In this article we cover six practical WordPress plugins that enable you to make your WordPress website GDPR-proof!

GDPR Consent Plugin (€ 39 per year)

For WordPress websites in Europe, Sowmedia launches the GDPR Consent Plugin: a plugin for WordPress with which you first ask permission from your visitors, before your other WordPress plugins (and scripts) start collecting personal data. This way you prevent your website from already collecting personal data before your visitor has given permission for this. The GDPR Consent Plugin lets you define exactly which consents you want to request of your visitors, allowing you to present a clear overview of unique required and optional consents for your visitors to interact with. This GDPR Consent Plugin is the most complete WordPress cookie & consent plugin of all.

Delete Me (free)

The GDPR issues the ‘right to be forgotten’. This basically means that you have to be able to erase someone’s  personal data within a reasonable timespan upon their request. You could, of course, do this manually, but the WordPress plugin Delete Me offers your visitors to it themselves — that is, when it comes to data gathered by your website. Users can remove all their own posts and links, including their reactions to articles.

This plugin particularly comes in handy when you have a subscriber website or an active user group that regularly responds to your articles. Be aware, though, that this plugin will not remove data stored separately by additional plugins you may have added to your WordPress website.

Wider Gravity Forms Stop Entries (free)

The Gravity Forms plugin is our number one favorite plugin to build advanced forms for WordPress websites. Its form entries are stored in your WordPress site, but can also be mailed or forwarded to third parties, such as email marketing software. In case your entries are directly forwarded to another system, you may not need to additionally store these entries in your WordPress site.

The GDPR requires you to refrain from needlessly storing user data. This is why the Wider Gravity Forms Stop Entries is so convenient. This plugin removes entries immediately in your WordPress database, so form entries will only be stored in your external systems (or your mailbox). The only drawback is that you don’t have a backup of these entries any more in case you discover the link to your external system to be unresponsive, for instance. Alternatives to tackle this are the plugins below.

Gravity Forms Encrypted Fields ($ 27)

Do you store Gravity Forms entries within your website? Then you can protect these by encrypting them. The WordPress plugin Gravity Forms Encrypted Fields ($ 27) does this for you. User data is encrypted by this plugin within the database. Next, you can configure which persons are allowed to view specifically allotted entries. This may be required, particularly when you are gathering high risk personal data (like Social Security Numbers or medical information) that is not meant to be seen by all WordPress editors and administrators.

WP GDPR Compliance (free)

The GDPR demands ‘explicit consent’ of your visitors to allow you to process their data. Whether you want your visitors to subscribe to a newsletter, fill in a contact form, or react to a message, permission is required. Such explicit consent can be realized by virtue of providing a tick box for example. However, should a tick box be marked by default, then you are overriding the ‘privacy by default’ principle.

Forcing explicit consent in your WordPress website is largely done manually. Again, make sure that tick boxes aimed at having users agree with your terms, are not ticked by default. Fortunately, WP GDPR Compliance imbeds such tick boxes for you and supports plugins like Contact Form 7, WooCommerce and WordPress Comments. The author of this plugin has announced future support for other plugins as well.

Policy Genius (free)

An important part of GDPR compliance is making your privacy policy transparent. It is common practice to facilitate a link to a privacy policy in the footer of a website. Drawing up such protocols can be quite an endeavor. However, once you have constructed one that is explaining your policy in a clear and complete manner, you can then refer to it from any part of your website (for instance, places where you ask your visitors’ explicit consent).

The free WordPress plugin ‘Policy Genius’ helps you draw up a privacy policy in a few easy steps. This is no guarantee, however, that your policy then meets all requirements. It would be best to consult a lawyer to be safe.

WordPress themes and plugins for the hotel and catering industry

WordPress themes and plugins for the hotel and catering industry

If you are the owner of a hotel, bed-and-breakfast, restaurant, café or any other business in the hospitality sector, you can use WordPress to make a beautiful website. But which themes and plugins should you use? In this article, we’ve listed the pros and cons of some popular themes for the hotel and catering industry and recommend some additional plugins to make your online service successful

Some links in this article contain affiliate code.

WordPress themes for the hotel and catering industry

Online you can find thousands of WordPress themes for restaurants, coffee shops, diners, bed-and-breakfasts, etc. But which one is most suitable for your company? We’re giving you an overview of the most popular WordPress themes for hotel and catering businesses.

Divi Café ($ 69 per year)



Divi Café is a beautiful complete theme for cafés and restaurants from ElegantThemes. The theme contains a digital menu, online ordering options and lots of space for nice product photography.

Pros:

  • Digital menu
  • Ordering online
  • WooCommerce integration
  • Great design
  • Contact form
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • Payment module not included by default
  • Reservations/schedule module not included by default

MyCuisine ($ 69 per year)



MyCuisine is a complete theme for restaurants from ElegantThemes. The theme contains a digital menu and a page for contact information, including your location on Google Maps.

Pros:

  • Digital menu
  • Google Maps
  • Many settings options
  • Contact form
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • Payment module not included as standard
  • Reservations/schedule module not included as standard

Enfold ($ 59 one-time)



Enfold is our favorite WordPress theme, and is also suitable for restaurants. With the floorplan and reservation form, your customers can book their own table in your restaurant. Furthermore, Enfold can be expanded with many plugins.

Pros:

  • Multipurpose design
  • Floor plan with reservation form
  • Many settings options
  • Contact form
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • No digital menu
  • No ordering module
  • Booking module does not block the times that are fully booked

Restaurant ($ 69 per year)



Restaurant Theme from Organic Themes is simple and to-the-point. The fact that you can make a very elaborate menu with this theme, makes it very attractive. The contact form is limited and depends on the Gravity Forms plugin, which is not included ($ 39 per year).

Pros:

  • Simple design
  • Elaborate digital menu
  • Contact form
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • No ordering module
  • No booking module
  • Contact form only possible with external plugin

Hotel California ($ 59 one-time)



Hotel California is a very complete WordPress theme for hotels, hostels and bed-and-breakfasts. The theme offers the possibility to show different rooms, that can also be booked. It includes a calculator, so visitors can quickly calculate the price of their stay.

Pros:

  • Design offers space for photography
  • Booking and reservation module for rooms
  • WooCommerce integration possible
  • Price calculator
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • No payment module

Starhotel ($ 49 one-time)



Starhotel is a WordPress hotels theme with a clean design. The included booking module has a prominent position and you can easily add rooms with a specific price per room.

Pros:

  • Design offers lots of space for photography
  • Booking and reservation module for rooms
  • Prices adjustable per room
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • No payment module
  • Booking module does not block the times that are fully booked

Grand Restaurant ($ 59 one-time)



Grand Restaurant offers lots of space for photo impressions. The theme contains a menu for your products, including ordering options when you’re using WooCommerce. Also, the theme has a simple reservation module.

Pros:

  • Design offers space for photography
  • Simple booking and reservation module
  • Ordering products via webstore
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • No payment module
  • Booking module does not block the times that are fully booked

Piquant ($ 59 one-time)



With Piquant you can choose from different website layouts for your restaurant/café. You can describe your recipes and ingredients, and have your visitors book a table. Visitors can also purchase products online, using WooCommerce.

Pros:

  • Practical menu description
  • Booking and reservation module for tables
  • Elaborate descriptions of recipes and ingredients
  • Responsive

Cons:

  • No payment module
  • Booking module does not block the times that are fully booked

WordPress plugins for the hotel and catering industry

Hotel and catering businesses often need additional functionalities on their WordPress website. Think of a booking system for a bed-and-breakfast, a reservation module for a diner, an online menu and payment methods for a take-away and ordering forms for ordering online. Not every theme contains all the functionalities you need. That is why we describe a few plugins you can use as an addition to your WordPress theme to complete the website for your restaurant or café.


WooCommerce adds a webstore functionality to WordPress. This allows customers to buy meals, but also to pay for the reservation of their room or apartment. Plus, there are loads of plugins and extensions for WooCommerce, so it has many possibilities.

Pros:

  • Free base product
  • E-commerce integrates with WordPress
  • Many plugins and extensions
  • Many themes are compatible with WooCommerce

Cons:

  • The base product is free, but the extensions are usually not
  • Complex software, also read our webstore comparison

Gravity Forms ($ 39 per year)


Our favorite plugin for building webforms is so extensive that it can even be used as a basic ordering system. Are you subletting a few rooms per month? Don’t get into an entire webstore package, but start out with Gravity Forms. With a few clicks, you create an ordering form, place it on your ordering page, and you’re ready to go.

Pros:

  • Easy installment
  • Drag and drop form builder
  • Conditional logic offers many possibilities
  • Elaborate online documentation
  • Many themes support styling for Gravity Forms

Cons:

  • The form styling is not very modern

Pinpoint Booking System ($ 50 one-time)


With Pinpoint Booking System you can process the reservations of, for example, rooms on your website, including payment. The plugin is very useful for, for example, hotels and bed-and-breakfasts.

Pros:

  • Very versatile plugin with many options
  • Organized back end
  • Can be linked with payment module (Mollie)
  • Options to add discounts, additional costs and upsells

Cons:

  • For price exceptions (per room), you need to create separate forms
  • Configuring the plugin takes some time

BirchPress Scheduler ($ 75 per year)


Just like with Pinpoint Booking System, you can use BirchPress Scheduler to handle the reservations and payments of the tables or rooms on your website. Additionally, BirchPress offers synchronization with an external schedule, so you can also see the reservations, for example, on your phone. This plugin is exceptionally suitable for restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts.

Pros:

  • Elaborate plugin with many settings options
  • Link to external schedule feed
  • Organized backend
  • Many payment modules possible

Cons:

  • It takes some time to get to know the plugin
  • Payment modules via WooCommerce are versatile, but complex

Booked Appointments ($ 34 one-time)


Booked Appointments is a lesser-known, but a very nice plugin with a clean design, that may be exactly what you need for some target groups. Visitors can pick a date, schedule a time slot, and then leave their contact info. Optionally they can even make a payment with a WooCommerce payment module.

Pros:

  • Plugin has a clean design
  • Compact display of schedule and dates
  • Can be synchronized with an external schedule feed
  • Many payment modules possible
  • Form fields are configurable

Cons:

  • External schedule feed is read-only (reservations are not saved into the schedule)
  • Plugin is not easily extended with add-ons

Do you have another tip? Please tell us below!

Optimizing WordPress, WooCommerce and WPML

Optimizing WordPress, WooCommerce and WPML

 

In this article we will discuss what it takes to improve the speed, stability and security of a WordPress webshop with WooCommerce and WPML. To illustrate this, we’ll look at Ztijl, a multilingual webshop that sells vintage design lighting and furniture. Read more