Mobile-friendly or mobile optimised: which side of the fence are you?Posted 14 June 2011 by Sandy Cosser
When it comes to mobile optimisation Bryson Meunier divides SEOs into two categories: those who believe in developing different strategies for mobile and desktop SEO, including delivering a separate mobile URL; and those who believe in making desktop driven sites easy for mobile browsers to access, which means only one URL. Both sides vociferously defend their positions.
Meunier falls into the first category – mobile URL/SEO. He’s doesn’t do so arbitrarily, instead he bases his decision on experiments he’s conducted and evidence he’s collected. For instance, in December 2010, he studied the similarity of desktop and mobile search results and found that only 13.4% of desktop results match mobile results. That’s a small margin.
He attributes the difference to the prominence of local search results in mobile queries; the difference in the positioning of vertical results; and the fact that smartphone results have different filters, among others.
Mobile searchers don’t always use keywords
His latest argument in favour of different SEO approaches has to do with keywords, or the lack thereof. He bases his argument on visual search, which is when smartphone users scan images with their phones (Google Goggles) and then wait for results to appear. It’s up to Google to use the image as best it can to deliver relevant results, which is difficult without some help. More specifically, it’s difficult if images aren’t properly optimised.
For example, logos should be optimised for brand names so that Google can find related images with related keywords. Meunier takes pains to point out that at no point during such a mobile search is a keyword or phrase ever used.
He takes it further, emphasising the necessity of sites being able to quickly deliver mobile content directly related to mobile users’ needs. This includes image links to purchase pages, contact pages and share pages. With this in mind, he advocates putting Google’s keyword tool, with its new mobile keyword results to good use.
Old school SEO for mobile search
Barry Schwartz falls into Meunier’s latter category – those who advocate one URL for mobile and desktop SEO. Schwartz believes that splitting the URLs has a negative effect on SEO in that it results in missed link control and opportunities. The concern is one of divided URL authority and lessened weight. The argument is that creating one mobile-friendly site kills two birds with one stone – mobile users are happy and search engines don’t have to worry about which site to deliver or which site gets the higher ranking.
But Brian Klais says that just because a site is mobile-friendly doesn’t mean it is mobile optimised.
Personally, I lean more towards Meunier’s view. Mobile search might not be revolutionary, but it does require a different mindset. Of course there are some obstacles to effectively creating two websites – cost being the most obvious – in which case there is nothing wrong with making mobile-friendly your starting point.
But I think that as mobile search becomes more dominant more thought should be given to mobile SEO.
What about you?