Mobile SEO: What is it and why does it matter?
Have you take an look through your Google Analytics stats recently and spotted the proportion of visitors using mobiles to access your content?
If you run a typical site, then it’s likely that numbers have been increasing over time. Mobile SEO is all about embracing the way in which consumers are searching and ensuring that your site is best positioned to take advantage of these changes.
The issue of responsive design has been filling up more and more pages online. For those building a new site from scratch, it seems that a responsive design holds so many of the answers.
The basic idea here is that the site detects the type of device that the visitor is using. Based on that information, a particular version of the website is served.
If someone’s using a small screen, for example, then they may be presented with a smaller layout. Some images may be left out, since the inclusion of them would ruin the design and also increase load times.
It sounds great, so why don’t we all do it?
It’s certainly true that a responsive design has real SEO benefits and Google seem to be keen on this approach, but it may not always be right.
It depends on how much information you’re looking to display and how closely you want the mobile versions to match what’s displayed on the desktop.
You do need to think carefully about load times, in order to get the right approach.
There are alternatives available too. With dynamic serving, for instance, the server does the same job of detecting the device. It then serves up a a page, which may be completely different to the main desktop version.
The main issue here is that dynamic serving does tend to be more complex. From an SEO point of view, however, it can work well.
Both responsive design and dynamic serving mean that you can have a single URL. There’s always the option of having one URL for desktops and another to handle mobile access.
Doesn’t this seem a little old-fashioned? It may well do, but it can still work really well. It’s an area where you do need to be on the ball with your approach to SEO, with some key considerations being:
- Using the rel=canonical tag correctly, so that you don’t end up with duplicate content issues. In most cases, it’s likely that the desktop version will contain definitive information for your site.
- Smartphone ranking factors
- The increased overhead caused by redirects. You may think that redirects are pretty quick, but they are slow on a smartphone. Test it.
- Is your content accessible to all? If not, it’s likely to rank poorly.
Mobile SEO is all about providing the best possible user experience. That will generally mean having great content, but also making sure that pages load quickly on all devices.
You also need to make sure that there’s no room for confusion and that you aren’t seen to be creating a lot of duplicate information. If you get all of those elements right, then you should be able to keep mobile users happy and also attract more of them.
By Keith Barrett
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