Live from SMX Advanced: Doing Mobile SEO Right

By Amanda Sides | Jun 6, 2012
More Articles by Amanda


In this “hardcore” mobile session, we learn from the pros on how to optimize your mobile sites for SEO purposes. We’ll also hear from Pierre Far, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, getting Google’s official recommendations on which route to take.

Cindy Krum, CEO & Founder, MobileMoxie (@suzzicks)

Cindy gave lots of recommendations to take into consideration when designing a mobile site:

  • Be sure you can edit and control your alt, header, title and meta tags with your mobile platform
  • Be wary of DUST: Duplicate URL with Same TextBe sure your pages are redirecting to the mobile version if served up on a mobile device. If you don’t, this could allow for a high bounce rate.
  • Strive for quick load times

To learn more about this topic, you can buy Cindy’s book Mobile Marketing on Amazon.

Bryson Meunier, Director of Content Solutions, Resolution Media (@brysonmeunier)

Since there are so many different options to striving for mobile SEO, Bryson breaks down the data to find the best routes.

Keyword and Concept Research Critical to SEO

When doing keyword research, don’t forget to consider the mobile search volumes. In your research, do a comparison and see which keywords are more important to mobile searches; your keywords may change for mobile users.

Different Search Behavior Requires Different Content to Achieve Searcher Goals Quickly

When you are conforming to mobile search behavior, your mobile pages will be influenced by the differences.  If you are serving different content on your mobile site, you may want to go the m.site.com route; if your content doesn’t change, just formatting does, you may want to go the responsive site route.

How do Top Sites Approach Mobile SEO?

  • 83% of sites in sample do have some sort of mobile strategy, whether it be responsive site or redirect to m.site.com.
  • 60% of those redirect to some sort of mobile URL

Pierre Far, Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google (@pierrefar)

Pierre discusses some recommendations for building smartphone-optimized websites. Everything talked about has now been posted on the Webmaster Central blog in full detail.

As others have discussed today, once you’ve decided you want a mobile site, you have to decide if you want a separate URL or the same URL. The next decision you have to make is whether you want to serve up the same html or different html. Here are the three options you have for your mobile site:

  • Responsive Web Design (Google’s recommendation)
  • Dynamic Serving
  • Separate Mobile Site

Responsive Web Design (Google’s Recommendation)

Same HTML > Same URL > CSS Media Queries ex: @media only screen and (max-width: 640px) { … }

It doesn’t matter which bot crawls your site; it doesn’t matter to Google internally. It’s fine if the traditional bots crawl it and not the mobile bots. This makes for fresher indexing and a more efficient process for Google. DO NOT BLOCK BOTS (in this situation). You’ll be limiting yourself.

Tips for Responsive Web Design:

  • Note the max-width
  • Allow Google bot and Google bot mobile to crawl your site. Google will handle it appropriately on the back-end
  • Test in a modern browser

Dynamic Serving

Different HTML > Same URL

Tip for Dynamic Content:

  • Vary your HTTP Header – Add a line of code to your header: Vary: User-Agent. The Google Bot will come to this page and see that “vary signal” notifying the bot that there may be content on the page not immediately apparent as mobile content.

Separate Mobile Site

Different HTML > Different URL

Tip for Separate Mobile site:

  • Cannonical tags: puta canonical tag on the mobile page, giving credit to the main site version of the page.
  • Rel=”alternate” in Sitemaps: Pierre also suggests putting a URL-level annotation on the main site version of the page telling the bots that an alternate version of the page exists, including the mobile URL and max-width information.
  • Vary HTTP header if you automatically redirect to the mobile site.

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