7 Strategies for Optimizing Your Site for Mobile
Even though Google’s mobile usability update, dubbed ‘Mobilegeddon,’ didn’t have as significant of an impact as was predicted, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to optimize your site for mobile. Many companies have seen continued growth in their mobile traffic and revenue year-over-year, whereas some are noting that desktop and tablet conversion and revenue have fallen. As the need to have a mobile-friendly site becomes more significant for all online businesses, there are important considerations that must be made to ensure that the site’s content is optimized and not seen by search engines as duplicate content. Here are 7 tips we offer our clients to help them get their site optimized for mobile:
Your site should have responsive design or be a separate mobile site with an automatic mobile device detection and redirect.Responsive design delivers the same code to the browser on a single URL for each page, regardless of device, and adjusts the grid display to fit varying display sizes. Because you’re delivering the same page to all devices, responsive design can be easy to maintain and less complicated in terms of configuration for search engines. For instance, your SEO writing will be the same for your mobile site since the page itself isn’t changing. Whether it’s a desktop or mobile device, each user agent (or device type) enters on a single URL and gets the same HTML content. Responsive design is the preferred option of Google, but it’s not the only option available. Another option is to have a separate mobile site. With this option, you would use a separate URL, such as a mobile sub-domain (m.example.com), a separate mobile domain (example.mobi), or URL with a sub-folder (example.com/mobile). Any of these will suffice as long as you properly implement bidirectional annotation between the desktop and mobile versions. Essentially, this means that your java source code functions in two directions, so Object A can be accessed from Object B and vice versa. If you have the proper bidirectional annotation set-up, you should not be penalized for duplicate content. If you decide to go with a separate mobile site, it can be wise to incorporate elements of responsive design as it will allow your pages to adapt to differences in screen sizes. With regards to SEO writing, a separate mobile site allows you to use characters that are different and shorter due to mobile’s smaller fields. The advantage of this is that you could fully customize your mobile site for a unique mobile user experience.
The desktop version of your pages should have rel=”alternate” tags linking to the mobile version of corresponding page.Currently, Google uses a single index that clusters desktop and mobile pages together. This makes it necessary to use meta data to send signals to Google to clarify which mobile URLs are associated with their equivalent desktop URLs. A mobile SEO best practice is to use meta data to indicate rel=“alternate” on your desktop homepage so that it points to the matching mobile URL. This helps Google discover the location of your site's mobile pages.
Mobile pages should have rel=”canonical” tags that link to the corresponding desktop version of the page.On every mobile page on your website, it is best practice to add a rel="canonical" tag that points to the matching desktop URL. Using the canonical tag will help prevent confusion about possible duplicate content between mobile and desktop versions of a page by telling Google and search engines which version of the content to show. In addition, if you’re not sure whether your site is optimized for mobile, here are a few more things you can do:
- Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Simply plug in the URL of your site and Google will tell you if it has a mobile-friendly design. If it’s not mobile-friendly, Google will offer you tips on how to improve.
- Check your site using Google’s Page Speed Insights. This tool will analyze your site speed for both mobile and desktop. This is important because if your site is slow to respond in mobile or on a desktop, you may receive lower positions in the SERPs.
- Check the Mobile Usability Report in Google Web Toolkit. Google now features a Mobile Usability Report in Webmaster Tools. Log in to your account, navigate to “Search Traffic”, and then “Mobile Usability.” It will outline all the pages where users might encounter difficulties if they visit your site on a mobile device.
- Review Google’s list of common mistakes with mobile sites so you can avoid them.