Even though the use of tablet devices and smartphones for internet browsing has exploded over the past couple of years, there are still very few SEO experts lending their services to mobile web design. There could be a number of reasons for this – experts may not see the need to duplicate their efforts across a variety of platforms or clients could be unwilling to wear the extra expenses. If there are more users searching for businesses on the go, however, isn’t this proof enough that we need optimization for this purpose?
As per Catalyst Bureau’s analytics, let’s take a quick look at how search engines actually work. For the most part, the process of cataloging pages for their individual databases consists of three main parts:
- The web crawler, which follows links and sends HTTP queries to millions of websites all over the world;
- The indexer, which stores all of the relevant content in the search engine database; and
- The query processor, which evaluates a user query and compares it to the stored content.
As you can see, none of this is specific to desktop computers or mobile devices, so why aren’t we using optimization all over the place?
The more traditional approach to search engine optimization – meaning, what is undertaken for desktop browsers – concentrates on keywords, tags, and content in a bid to make the web page more relevant to a visitor’s potential queries. As both mobile and desktop search query functions work similarly, most experts have traditionally focused on the desktop aspects.
Did you know that Google has already taken steps in considering how pages that are tailored for mobile web design are ranked? In December 2012, for example, they launched Googlebot-Mobile, which is a crawler that employs a smartphone user agent to complement its previous mobile phone user-agents. They have also changed their search results to reflect URLs that are specifically designed for smartphones, saving the time of a redirect. Mobile websites cause a number of SEO problems, however, in the way of duplicate content.
The solution to this problem is to rely instead on responsive web design, which will deliver identical content to users on a website that reformats itself according to the device it is being viewed upon. The main benefit associated with this approach is that the website will follow a specific set of instructions to tailor the page so that it displays as effectively as possible. It will also allow experts to optimize the content for the same URL, which removes the duplicate content issue altogether.
If you have recently discovered the need for a mobile version of your website because a lot of users are searching for you using smartphones, it is important that you consider how SEO will factor into this. Whilst it is possible to optimize a standard mobile web design in the same way that you would your desktop site, you might find that a responsive website is actually the way to go. It will prevent issues associated with duplicate content and will ensure that users will be able to find you no matter the device.