By 2014, more of the traffic to your website will originate from mobile devices than from a desktop or laptop computer. Mobile will no longer be the minority of your traffic and if you haven’t already considered a mobile internet marketing campaign, you’re already falling behind.
“Mobile SEO is just the same as ‘normal’ SEO.’
“Mobile SEO doesn’t even exist.”
“Mobile SEO is a load of rubbish.”
Those are three statements I’ve heard in the past couple of weeks alone and, needless to say, I disagree with them. The most common arguments people use for saying this are:
- The results are the same on mobile as they are on desktop for almost all searches.
- The same SEO principles apply
As it currently stands, both of those are completely true.
- Users searching on a mobile often have different goals than users on a desktop. 1 in 3 Google searches on a mobile device has a local element, for example. If someone is walking around Manchester City centre and searches, ‘sports stores,’ do you think they’re looking to for an online shopping spree? Probably not. It’s a reasonable assumption that that they’re actually looking for is an address to a nearby shop. That’s just one example and differing expectations are not just limited to this local search element.
- Users searching on a mobile are likely to make shorter, more concise searches. So that long tail strategy that is working so well for you in your existing SEO campaign might come a cropper as more of your potential customers search on their mobile phones.
- Rankings won’t always be the same across all devices. Google has a mobile bot, is encouraging website owners to submit mobile sitemaps and has the capability of identifying websites that are inaccessible or render poorly to mobile users. Google is concerned with quality of results. If users get inaccessible or low quality results, the search engine has failed. So Google is ultimately going to take into account how a given website will appear and what it will deliver to searches based on their devices.
Mobile SEO Concepts
Let’s not forget that your mobile users and your desktop users are not different people. Desktop users also use mobiles and vice versa. What is different about SEO for audiences using varied devices is the user expectations and search habits.
Yes, many of the same rankings factors that determine where your website ranks in search on a desktop will also influence rankings on a mobile and this is likely to remain the case. But mobile SEO is different and should be a separate consideration in a number of ways:
On Page Optimisation
Firstly, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to deliver a mobile site. Will it be a mobile subdomain? E.g. http://www.mobile.example.com? Or will it be the same site with a mobile specific style sheet? How will you technically take your users to the right version of your site? How will you let Google know about your mobile site? All of this is fundamental to a mobile SEO campaign.
Content should be optimised for the mobile user. This means a design that caters to the screen size, content that’s relevant to what they’re looking for and concise, snappy headlines. Titles and meta descriptions should be tailored for mobile too. On page mobile SEO is very different from optimising for a desktop user and searcher.
Google’s keyword tool has mobile specific data and while we can all grumble about the accuracy of this tool at times (particularly in relation to SEO keyword research) it offers a good insight as to the growing mobile search trends. The mobile element of any SEO campaign requires its own keyword research. Take into account the proportion of your mobile searchers who could very feasibly be out and about while typing. Consider the volume of local searches on Google’s mobile search engine. By failing to incorporate local keywords in your campaign, could you be missing out on 1/3 of these mobile searchers?
In SEO, rankings is only a small part of the whole picture. What really matters is whether you can entice clicks onto your listing in the SERPs and, more to the point, what those users do when they get to your site. Again, this is where considering the mobile user’s expectations comes into play. Let’s go back to the previous example of a guy walking around Manchester City Centre and searching ‘sports stores’ on his iPhone.
Is it really appropriate to send this user to an online store and a page full of products with giant ‘buy it now’ buttons? Or would it be better, in this case, to take him to a mobile optimised page offering a map and a ‘directions from here’ to his nearest shop?
The expectations of mobile users have to be considered in your keyword mapping. When you decide upon your best target keywords following relevant research, this will lead you to insights about the types of searches this will drive to your site and, in turn, what they’re actually looking for.
So while mobile SEO is certainly somewhat similar to desktop SEO, there are clear differences that warrant a separate and thoroughly researched approach.
One year ago, less than 10% of traffic to your site was likely to originate from a mobile. Now, it could be in excess of 20% and by 2014, it will be higher than 50%. So failing to optimise your SEO campaign and the pages you’re sending searchers too could cost you dearly.