SEO for Dummies: SEO for Mobile Devices

The world went mobile long ago, and it is imperative that Holyoke businesses make their sites mobile-friendly and invest in mobile SEO. These days, more people use their mobile phones to go online than desktop computers, and it is vital that these people are able to find you and navigate your pages easily. Mobile SEO is but one aspect of search engine optimization, but it is among the most important:

Alert Google to Mobile Sites

You can configure your mobile sites. In fact, you must. Doing so will make it easier for Google and other search engines to index you correctly. A large percentage of people search Google from their mobile devices, but even webmasters can find it difficult to run a mobile site and tap into the mobile search demographic.

Mobile sites and normal desktop sites use very different formats. The expertise required for mobile is also vastly different, as are the methods of site management. This presents several unique challenges, the most notorious of which is the lack of search-friendliness. Most mobile sites make mobile viewing a pleasure, but they often forget to make them search friendly.

SEO for mobile devices involves getting your website ranked in mobile search results. If your site does not show in results, even when using the “site: operator,” then you may have to troubleshoot some issues. These tips will help Google crawl and index your mobile site properly:

·Make Mobile Sites Easy for Bots to Find

If you are not showing in mobile search results, then search engine bots may not be able to find you. Googlebots crawl websites and index them before including them in search results. Newly created sites may take a few days or weeks for Google to notice them. If this is the case, you can notify Google of your site’s existence by creating a Mobile Sitemap and submitting it using Google Webmaster Tools.

·Ensure Bots Can Access Your Site

Googlebots must be able to access your site. Some mobile sites only allow mobile phones access, which prevents Googlebots from gaining entry to the site and makes it unsearchable. “Googlebot-Mobile” is the standard crawler for mobile sites, and you must allow it access to yours. Google can change its user-agent at any time, so verify Google bots first by using DNS Lookups.

·Check That Mobile URLs are Recognizable

When search engine bots crawl a site, they check to make sure that mobile devices can view all of its URLs. If pages are not viewable on mobile devices, they will not show in mobile search results. Various factors determine whether mobiles can view URLs, one of which is the Doc Type Definition declaration. DTD declarations must be in a compatible format, such as Compact HTML or XHTML Mobile.

Provide Accurate Guidance for Mobile Users

You can run both mobile and desktop versions of your site, but it does create a very common problem: Many webmasters running both desktop and mobile versions get them mixed up. Desktop users often get the mobile version, and mobile users end up struggling to read the desktop one. It is important that users access the correct site for their devices. If this is the case, you have two options:

·Redirect Users to the Right Version

When bot crawlers or mobile users land on a URL’s desktop site, simply redirect them to the same page on the mobile version. Google notices both versions of the URL and the relationship between them. As a result, it will display the mobile site for mobile searches and the desktop version for desktop searches. When redirecting users, ensure that the corresponding URLs are as accurate a match as possible.

Let us use an example: If you sell products on your website and a mobile user lands on your desktop URL, redirect him or her to same product page on the mobile version and not the homepage. Although such trickery may boost rankings, this type of bad SEO practice gets websites penalized. You should avoid sending anyone anywhere except directly to the page that he or she was visiting.

However, if desktop users land on mobile versions, then you do not need to redirect them to desktop sites. It is unnecessary because Google does not redirect desktop users automatically to the desktop version. Instead, it provides a redirect link on the mobile page itself. This is particularly useful when mobile sites lack full functionality, as it offers users navigational choice.

·Use User-Agent to Switch Content

Not all sites use different URLs to create a distinction between mobile and desktop content. Some use the same URL, but the format changes according to Googlebot. In English, this means that both desktop and mobile users access the exact same URL without redirects, but the user-agent changes the content and format accordingly. The same URL appears in both desktop and mobile searches.

There is a risk, however. Incorrect site configuration can lead to an accusation of “cloaking,” of which the penalty is removal from search results. Cloaking is attempting to improve search rankings by providing regular users and Google Bots with different content. It causes irrelevancy in search results and is the ultimate SEO crime. Google punishes sites that serve content unrelated to a user’s search query.

How can a user’s page be different to what Google Bots see if the URL is the same? Google uses “Googlebot-Mobile” for mobile searches and simply “Googlebot” for web searches. These user-agents are different. To comply with Google’s guidelines, Google Bots should receive the same content as desktop users, and Googlebot-Mobile should see the same as what mobile users would.

It is easy for Google to mistake unintentional cloaking and penalize sites unfairly. If desktop users receive a message like “Please access from a mobile phone,” but your site sends both crawlers the full mobile version, there is discrepancy between what users see and what Googlebots see. In this example, users get “Please access from a mobile phone,” while crawlers get “Welcome to my website.”

SEO for Mobile Devices

It is more important than ever before to allow everyone access to your website, regardless of the device in use. Because most people in Holyoke use their smartphones to access the Internet, your site must be easy for them to navigate and friendly to their screens. Sign up for our newsletter to learn more about how mobile SEO works, as well as which strategies will help you rank higher in mobile search results.

About the Author:

Jason Katsoris

Owner of Holyoke Marketing Company

Jason is a jack of all trades as he has experience as a web developer, account manager and marketing coordinator. He graduated from American International College with a Masters of Business Administration in 2012. Jason dabbles in just about everything from designing websites to creating high converting email marketing campaigns. He has experience working with Adobe Creative Suite, Google Analytics and DiVinci Resolve. Outside of work, you can find Jason outdoors, skiing, or hanging out with his German Shepherd.

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