Even the most rose tinted spectacle wearing digital analysts out there will admit the next few years will see ‘mobile search traffic’ dominate and reach even further heights and prominence. But what are the important factors to consider for successful mobile search?
Mobile Search Best Practices
1. Responsive Design or Not? There is still some confusion on how to setup your website for mobile search, and what works best. Opt for a responsive web design and control the same html content to different devices through CSS media queries for rendering. Google does support web and mobile content on different URL’s, for example www.acme.com and m.acme.com (for mobile content), but I would opt for this only if there are severe technical difficulties in changing to a responsive design. There has been a degree of conflicting statements from Google’s Matt Cutts and other Google departments over the past 2 years, but the general consensus in the mobile SEO industry is to deploy a responsive design as first choice solution.
Yes, it’s still ok to have a separate mobile site (mobi.acme.com), and utilise to address your mobile users goals, and then link your users to the main responsive site and appropriate section. Just to be clear, you do not need a separate mobi site to help mobile search rankings.
2. Use of Robots.txt. NOT! Do not block your mobile URL’s with robots.txt. Use the canonical tag for duplicate URL’s and redirect Smartphone URL’s. Ensure your mobile home page is unique in content, and make it obvious – put mobile in the title tag and include the phrase ‘mobile’ within the text/copy.
3. How Important Is HTML Code Compliance: Mobile search and the Google mobile search engine is not more sensitive to invalid html code than 100% valid html code, so there is no need get your developer to spend hours and unnecessary time achieving 100% compliant XHTML code.
4. Usability NOT Rankability: Ease of navigation is paramount to ensure that the user experience is slick, fast and obvious, but this will not help your mobile site rank better.
5. Presence and Relevance of Content: the inclusion of content/keywords that matches the mobile searches query is important in placing your site well in mobile search results. So, unless you’re an automobile site selling cars, and haven’t optimised for caravans, then there’s nothing to worry about here.
6. Link Authority: Yes, link building and page authority this will always be a ranking factor for any type of website, be it mobile, eCommerce or a mobile app.
7. Focus On The User, NOT the device: is a mantra worth repeating. The best mobile apps consider ergonomics, usability and often solve a problem, worth being solved.
Mobile Search Ranking Factors
A. Most Important
1. Your website listing is correctly redirected to Googlebot mobile or smartphone Googlebot.
2. Proximity of business location to searchers device location.
3. Relevance of content that is related to searchers query.
4. Mobile sitemap exists
5. Presence of Mobile Site (Reposnsive or dedicated)
B. Of Limited Importance
6. Use of mobile in the page Title Tags
7. Presence of mobile app in Google Play