Mobile Optimization and SEO

What exactly is mobile SEO and how does it differ from traditional SEO efforts? Let’s tackle the easy part first. From a traditional SEO standpoint, everything remains the same. For both mobile and traditional SEO campaigns, you need to have high quality relative content, you need to update your website on a regular basis, offer interactivity, and make sure your site is using Semantic Markup as outlined by the W3C.

So what is different about MOBILE SEO? Mobile SEO is really just a new term that incorporates the best of traditional SEO practices, and takes advantages of the latest industry technologies. In the past Mobile Websites meant you had to have two physically different websites, one for desktop browsers, and one for mobile phones. That meant double the production costs, content to update two sites, and less features for your mobile visitors. It also meant that you had to double your SEO efforts across both sites and in some cases run the risk of duplicate content penalties.

Now with the advent of HTML5, CSS3, and Media Queries, we can take advantage of Responsive Web Design. This means that your website will dynamically change it’s overall look depending on the size of the viewport, regardless of the device; an iPhone, a tablet, or a full sized desktop computer. This is fantastic news for website owners, as you only have one website to maintain, one content stream to update, and only one website to keep up with in regards to regular SEO efforts.

Just A Web Company’s website is fully responsive and HTML5 compliant. A great way to see this in action is to grab the corner of the browser window with your mouse, and drag it horizontally to make the window smaller. You will notice that the content, graphics, navigation bar, etc. are all responsive and make adjustments on the fly in regards to the size of the viewport.

Responsive Web Design is the number one recommended practice by Google. You can read about their recoomendations on mobile development here. You will notice that even Google does realizes that responsive web design while the number one recommended procedure may not fit all cases and does provide alternative instructions on how to handle mobile websites if you have the need for a separate site. The most common reasons for a separate website would be a website that is more of an application serving a specific purpose, as opposed to a common website.

The Truth

Mobile websites are exploding, but they are not really “mobile websites”, they are the same website that responds to the device that is accessing the data.

The Myth

Responsive Web Design

Mobile Specific Content is a MUST. This simply does not exist. There is only content vs. experience. The content remains the same across your website, however the experience may change depending on the size of the viewport. Case in point: Assume your website has a sidebar for navigation, or latest blog posts. A sidebar is appropriate for a large viewport such as a desktop computer, however on an iPhone that same sidebar will need be dropped down below the main content for ease of use. All of the same content and options exists, but the experience slightly differs.

The Lie

Mobile websites are not necessary. As of July 2012 10.5% of all web traffic was generated from a mobile device. Source

The fact of the matter is you cannot control how people access your website, and chances are, they are accessing your site from an iPad, Android Table, of Mobile Smart Phone. Your website needs to be accessible and respond to your viewer. The by-product of having a website that responds to your visitor, means you are using HTML5, CSS3, and semantically correct mark-up, which is half the battle in SEO.

If you are using a website built on outdated technologies such as HTML4, HTML4.01, XHTML, or XHTML1.1, you will need to make some major overhauls to your website before making it responsive. If you have had your website built within the last three years or so, chances are your website was built using standards compliant HTML5 and the time and money to transition to a responsive website will be substantially less.

To see if your website is a contender for being made into a responsive website, go to the W3C Validator and type in your website address. At the top of the results page is a line item titled DOCTYPE. This should say HTML5. Anything other that and chances are you have an outdated website, or one that was built using automated software.

One more test to run on your website to see how search engines view your outline and semantic data is to visit the W3C Semantics Extractor. After you enter your website address, the results page should display a nice hierarchical outline of the webpage you entered.

Posted In - Mobile, SEO