Mobile Websites and Implications for SEO

Mobile Website AnalyticsHow many people visit your website from a smartphone or tablet?

How many conversions come from people using these devices?

Mobile Website Data
In order to make smart decisions when it comes to optimizing your website for mobile devices, you need to know your data. You should also understand how this data has changed over time. Is it a slow gradual change or have you seen exponential growth? Look at data from the last three months compared to the last nine months to a year. You should be able to find this data in Google Analytics or any other web analytics packages that you use.

This data should affect your decision to create a mobile optimized website. Is your traffic high enough to warrant a custom designed mobile site? If you don’t see a significant amount of your traffic coming from mobile, a simple mobile “m dot” site may be best. However, if many of your visitors are viewing your site from a mobile device, you need to consider ways to fully optimize the experience for them.

Mobile SEO: Avoid Duplication
One of the most overlooked implications of mobile is its effect on SEO. It’s important to address the possibility of duplicate results in search engines. Duplicate search results can occur when you have different URLs for your desktop site and your mobile site and search engines are unaware of this when they crawl and index your site.

Google’s top recommendation for creating mobile websites is to use responsive design. If not responsive, they suggest creating sites that use URLs that serve different HTML depending on the device (desktop, smartphone or tablet).

The key here is one set of URLs. If a website is designed with separate desktop and mobile sites, Google suggests annotating in the site code that the page is part of a mobile site, meaning the content is the same on desktop and mobile. This way, Google can use the desktop search ranking for mobile search, but redirect searchers to the mobile version of a site when search is done on mobile.

The goal is to eliminate the possibility of duplicate content because this will negatively affect search rankings.

Mobile SEO: Search Behavior
Search results on mobile are not the same as on desktop. Some differences include:

  • Local results are more likely to appear in mobile search based on location.
  • Device type will affect search results. Because Android owns Google, Android users are always signed in on their mobile devices.
  • Smartphone search results display fewer filters (ex: web, images, places).
  • Mobile search results are more likely to display iTunes and Google Play app results.
  • Mobile search queries, on average, are 25% shorter than desktop searches, according to eMarketing + Commerce.

As searchers have become more familiar with searching on mobile devices, different search behavior has developed. This reinforces the need for mobile keyword research. Google’s keyword tool provides a mobile filtering option.

It is important to determine what the purpose of mobile is to you and what goals you have. You can then decide how to alter your strategy to meet these goals. Remember to consider how your visitors use your site and how they would like to use it from their smartphone or tablet.

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