• http://searchenginewatch.com/author/1907/angie-schottmuller Angie Schottmuller

    When you say “Separate Content for Smartphone, Tablet, Feature Phones”, do you really mean separate content presentation? From a consistency and efficiency factor, I think it’s very key to draw content from a single master source and then present it appropriately for different devices.

    From a results impact standpoint, I’ve only seen a value-add scenario for having a mobile subdomain plan for feature phones / dumb mobile phones. For desktop, tablet, and smartphone, I would advise using CSS w/ device detection and, if the CMS allows, potential rendering differences per device to aid page load. Providing the same URL for desktop, tablet, and smartphone devices has proven very valuable in SEO, but also key for social sharing. Have you seen new results indicating anything otherwise?

  • http://www.brysonmeunier.com Bryson Meunier

    Hi Angie,

    No, I mean separate content. In some cases smartphone and tablet users will have different needs that won’t be addressed by reformatted desktop content, and responsive design won’t be enough to drive qualified traffic. In an example I gave in an earlier column (http://searchengineland.com/consider-mobile-content-carefully-for-users-better-seo-92597), State Farm actually has separate content for their smartphone site that’s hyper-focused on the mobile user who according to search behavior has different needs than their desktop user. By recognizing that their target is likely trying to access a phone number or towing services from their smartphone (as the search behavior suggests), State Farm has changed their mobile home page and information architecture to address users of that platform.

    I should say that I don’t agree completely with the way the State Farm site is set up, as pages other than the home page could simply have been reformatted if nothing but the design had changed. However, the only way to address the needs of that specific user for the smartphone home page is to present separate content by device.

    Efficiency and consistency are fine, but this isn’t a column about mobile search engine consistency and efficiency, I’m afraid. Optimization is sometimes hard. The more I talk to businesses who have gone the easy route and transcoded their desktop content, the more I see them going back and redoing their mobile sites to address the needs of that user.

    As for the question about providing the same URL, there is evidence to suggest that the paradigm for mobile is different. A redirect may be enough to transfer link equity to mobile users. A few months ago I talked about Google inconsistencies with regard to mobile SEO (http://searchengineland.com/do-you-know-google%E2%80%99s-official-stance-on-mobile-search-seo-100350), but the one thing they have been consistent about is that mobile URLs are not duplicate content. Matt Cutts even recommended using an m. subdomain in a webmaster tools video, and John Mueller, who has advocated responsive design as an acceptable method for making content mobile-friendly, also said later that mobile URLs are fine. A lot of webmasters are anxious about splitting their link equity given what’s happened in desktop search, but this seems to be based more in theory than practice. Plus, with Google’s recently announced skip redirect/old possum improvement for smartphone search (http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/01/30-search-quality-highlights-with.html), mobile URLs will show in the smartphone SERP regardless of their link equity. I know some people who I otherwise respect disagree with me on this point, but the evidence so far has shown that mobile URLs are perfectly fine for SEO.

    Thanks for your question! Enjoyed your QR code presentation at SMX West last year, btw. :)

    Best,
    Bryson

  • http://www.brysonmeunier.com Bryson Meunier

    Quick postscript on this article: it didn’t take Google long to make my prediction about integrating mobile search results and social come true, as their latest update to Android search (http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2012/01/new-easier-to-use-google-search-for.html) includes social sharing and +1 information in the results.

    Also, a few people had asked about the upcoming study I mentioned last month that suggests having a mobile site may influence core search rankings. The full study won’t be released for a little while, but I’ve published the evidence related to this particular ranking factor here if there’s interest: http://www.brysonmeunier.com/influence-of-mobile-sites-on-google-smartphone-search-ranking/

  • http://mobilemeteor.com Denis Hurley

    Spot on. And your follow-up comment is also very important. Maybe 2012 will be the year that people finally realize their mobile website visitors usually have a different intention than desktop website visitors. Also, people need to understand the critical distinction between feature phones and smartphones. I’m amazed at how many people think their iPhone/Android optimized site needs to be “.mobi compliant.” And finally… when is the W3C going to catch up to current trends?