By 2 years ago in How to... SEO

Getting your head around mobile SEO strategies

Mobile SEO can seem like a daunting challenge to many companies, even those with the most established online presence.

There are a number of challenges in establishing yourself as a leader in the mobile market, but for the most part many elements of desktop and mobile SEO are very similar; providing a great user experience, a responsive site design and offering real value for your users are core values for success in both sets of results.

The physical implementation of a mobile site is relatively straightforward and is usually dictated by your own circumstances, what’s even better is that Google recently released their own best practice guidelines on the issue.

So there are three major options open to us:

  1. Allow mobile users to access the current site ensuring the content and code is accessible and displays suitably on mobile devices
  2. Use the same site and content but serving altered HTML and CSS when mobile devices are detected
  3. Finally offer up alternative URLs, a subdomain or a separate domain for mobile

These seem pretty straightforward but there are a few pitfalls to look out for, if you’re intending to use your current site it may still take some investment in design and development to ensure the site displays correctly on mobile devices, but perhaps more so you may need to condense content and make a lot of changes to forms, fonts and buttons to account for the mobile user’s fat finger and lack of attention (no offence intended!)

When serving responsive HTML and CSS through existing URLs be sure to add the Vary HTTP header, which should act as a signal to Google that a mobile content variation of the page is available helping these pages to be crawled and indexed more easily.

Separate domains, URLs or sub-domains also need to be dealt with carefully by submitting a mobile sitemap with canonical tags where necessary pointing back to the desktop URLs to avoid duplication issues. Also be sure to add the rel=”alternate” tag to the desktop URLs which like the Vary HTTP header signals to Google that there’s an alternative mobile version of this page.

Differences in mobile search

There are a few key differences in mobile search which affect user behaviour, rankings and CTR which need to be considered in your mobile strategy:

  • Mobile searches are much more likely to display local results, this may mean you have to develop your local search strategy and make more investment in this area. Forget links (well almost) the relative location of your business is one of the strongest ranking factors for the majority of Google mobile search queries.
  • Mobile results often display more specialised widgets or interactive features in search results depending on the device e.g. a search for ‘weather’ on android devices displays weather details for your current location pushing most other results below the fold.
  • Mobile search terms are often shorter and more concise, this can also make user’s intentions more ambiguous and shorter terms much more competitive to rank for, be sure to analyse your mobile traffic and user behaviour to determine whether it’s worth targeting more competitive terms.
  • Autocomplete results display while the user is still entering their search term.
  • Knowledge graph results are displayed within mobile search results. These results may have a significant effect on your CTR depending on your industry.

If you need more help with your mobile search strategy why not book into one of our SEO training sessions and discover the latest mobile SEO techniques.

By David Smith. at 12:03PM on Thursday, 11 Oct 2012

Dave's our Head of Operations and Training Manager. Formerly a Senior Search Strategist Dave headed the SEO strategies of many of our biggest clients, Dave's knowledge and experience in the industry knows no bounds, and he frequently trains the in-house online marketing teams of some of the most well-known brands in the country. Follow David Smith on Twitter.

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