mobile seo strategy
In this Whiteboard Friday, I share four fundamental questions that will help you assess the best alternatives to start taking mobile search into consideration for your site.
Google has recently published a set of official developers resources and recommendations to build smartphone optimized sites. Nonetheless, from a strategic perspective you also need to identify which are the best options according to your target market, present users, and site characteristics.
I hope it’s helpful and if you have any doubts or feedback, please let me know, I look forward for your comments.
Hello SEOmoz fans. My name is Aleyda Solis, @aleyda on Twitter. It's a pleasure to be here with you today, and I would like to show you four tips specifically about your mobile SEO strategy, which is a very hot topic nowadays.
The idea is to really answer some questions that can arise in the beginning of the process. The first question that you may have is how many mobile users you have and how they have found you, because really what you want is to, of course, be able to optimize your site and to be reachable to those specific mobile users that your specific site has.
Use Google Analytics. Go to the audience mobile devices section of your Google Analytics, and you will find there the operating system, the provider, also the resolutions, and the type of handhelds that your users are having when they are browsing to your site.
Also, you can configure an advanced segment in Google Analytics for the organic traffic, and you can specify to only see the specific mobile traffic, which are the pages and keywords and the conversions that get generated from this mobile organic traffic that comes to your site so you can understand better the behavior of that user, which are the topics and the pages and the information that they really consume.
At the beginning, sometimes, maybe you can identify that it's not all of your site that is really attractive to the mobile users, that you have some specific offer that you really want to promote to them. That is why it's very important that you identify first, at the beginning.
Also, use Google Webmaster Tools. Google Webmaster Tools has a filter where you can see only the mobile search for keywords and pages impressions. So you can see how is your site already behaving on the SERPs for mobile users.
Finally, always, the Google Keyword tool. Remember the typical Google keyword tool that we use? There is a setting there where you can specify that you only want information for smartphone searches. Do it so you can see also: How does that match with the traffic you already have for your types of products or services?
For example, you can see that maybe the traffic that you are getting is not even near the possibilities and the volume that there is already going for mobile users for your type of product or services, and there's a lot of room to grow or a lot of possibilities in that area. That's another good tip.
Finally, you already know your user behavior, what type of user do you have from smartphones. So you want to move to the next question that usually arises: How does your site look from those mobile devices?
Now, you know that you have those users that they are using the iPhone or maybe a BlackBerry, Simian, whatever. How does your site look from those devices? You can use some tools. Screenfly is specifically good to see the different resolutions, how your site looks from the different resolutions on the different smartphones, tablets, mobile phones. Google Master Tools also has a feature named Fetch as Googlebot. You can set the smartphone option so you can see how the bot is really looking at your code, verify the code that they are really getting from your site, and eliminate any possibility of redirections that you may have at the beginning of something.
You can also use the add-on from Firefox, use their agents feature. You can switch to mobile or smartphone user agent. This relays how your site is also reachable from those type of devices easily.
So, now you know how your site looks. You may have problems with those types of users that can use certain types of smartphones, and maybe you need to improve a little bit how your site looks in them. Okay. That's the first thing to do.
Then the next question is: What type of mobile web is better for you?
Because of the analytics, okay, I know that I have a lot of possibilities. I know that my site is not really attractive for this type of device. But that doesn't mean that you are going to start from scratch doing whatever to make your site friendly. No. You need to identify which is the best strategy for you according to your type of site. Okay?
So the first site - and this is the recommendation from Google and it's very, very popular nowadays also from a development perspective - it's the responsive website. This is the ideal situation, also, if you have the same content that you want to deliver for the mobile and the desktop user. You have the flexibility to implement. You have a good CMS or you have development resources that may facilitate the implementation, but let's say that maybe you cannot change something on your site or you have a not flexible CMS and you have just switched six months ago. Maybe you have problems there to implement it. Right? This is, of course, the best for smartphone users or tablet users.
If you have a feature phone base of users that you have identified before, maybe it's not the ideal, because you will have more problems to make this site that is good for desktop also good for a feature phone.
So the responsiveness, you ask a question for this, but then, if some of those different criteria that I have discussed before are not met, you might consider the dynamic serving in the same URL. This is more suitable for those sites that want to really offer a different type of content, produce a type of users. Remember that a lot of mobile users are also users that are looking for local type of searches that you may verify before with a keyword tool or Google Analytics, but that means that maybe, for those type of users, you want to provide some specific offer, a coupon, something different, maybe references to go walk into your next store, a different type of content than for the typical desktop user. Right? So this will be the alternative.
If you cannot implement responsive, I have talked before, if you have feature phone users, then you will do dynamic serving in the same URL. That means that you will be at a parallel site, but this site or this content will be shown through the same URL. The thing is to implement the user agent detection so instead of showing one version of the content, you will show the other.
If you, for some reason, have no other possibility to implement this, then you will move to the parallel site in an "m" subdomain. This means that you will build off a parallel site, but it won't be shown on the same URL as the previous option. Then you will need to add some text or rel=alternate tag to refer user from the desktop version to the mobile one. Also, vice versa, with a canonical tag. So, like this, you won't have any content duplication problems.
At the end of the day, this is not optimal because this means that the crawler, Google, will need to really identify much more content, and you will give much more work to the crawler. It won't be as neat as to have just one URL for everything. You will need to work more also to improve the popularity of this other parallel site because you don't have the same URL for everything. So it's not the ideal situation really.
The fourth question that might arise is: How can Google find my mobile site now, if it is not responsive? Of course, if it's responsive, it's the exact same content that will be shown to the desktop user as to the mobile one.