• jhuman

    Great post! I would add using a responsive website structure is idea.

  • http://www.mobilemartin.com/ Michael Martin

    Interesting to note that last week Senior Google Webmaster Trend Analyst, John Mueller, affirmed the one URL mobile strategy as a better overall strategy than using a separate mobile subdomain or section – http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=553b26f6fe1f2c39&hl=en

    “An easier solution, if you can do it, is to just serve smartphone and desktop users from the same URLs, using something like special stylesheets or CSS3 media-queries to optimize the content shown on smartphones. The advantage of that is that you don’t need special URLs, think about the crawling and indexing of them, nor would you need to consider how you’d redirect smartphone users.”

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

    Hi Michael,

    I posted a link to that when I said there were “cheaper, easier solutions,” so I’m not sure why you’re quoting it like it’s news to all of us. And John Mueller’s way is only better in terms of being easier, not in terms of bringing a website more traffic from mobile search. Since this isn’t search engine efficiency, as SEOs we should be considering what drives more qualified traffic from mobile search, not only what is easy to do. The fact remains that a site built as I described will have better user engagement and bring more search engine traffic from additional queries not available to the transcoded desktop site than a site built once and formatted differently for different devices. John Mueller’s affinity for responsive design doesn’t change that. It’s also not necessarily Google’s opinion on the matter, as they’ve given various opinions on this subject, but never in one voice: http://searchengineland.com/do-you-know-google%E2%80%99s-official-stance-on-mobile-search-seo-100350

    John Mueller also seems to believe that smartphone and desktop searchers are treated the same by Google, which is no longer true post-smartphone Googlebot and skip redirect update. I explained to him as much here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/109513208688588414415/posts/6xBx77z957u

    Not sure if he’s the best person within Google to comment on matters like these, as he doesn’t appear to have the latest info.

    As I say in the article, I agree that responsive design is fine when audience analysis doesn’t indicate that mobile searchers have different needs than desktop searchers, but in many cases (as in the Walgreens and State Farm examples I cite), there’s a big opportunity in making a site truly mobile, rather than assuming that all smartphone searchers want is a mobile-friendly version of your desktop site.

    JHurman, thanks for your enthusiasm, but just to clarify, I’m arguing that responsive design is a bad idea in many cases. Fine with URLs that have duplicate content, but there’s a big opportunity beyond that responsive design won’t help you take advantage of. In those cases, build a mobile-optimized (as opposed to mobile-friendly) site to be more competitive in mobile search.

    Best,
    Bryson

  • http://www.mobilemartin.com/ Michael Martin

    Bryson,

    Didn’t mean it to be redundant to your link out or “muddy the waters” ;) as I know Cutts did a video for the m. and then John advises the single URL

    I agree if you use the single URL & just change rendering then that alone is not advantageous for the different mobile searches, but if your mobile agent detection also triggers different META & DocType, etc optimized to that mobile type (feature or smartphone)…then I would prefer that over an m. or /mobile since it consolidates the link equity of the URL in tandem with the specific mobile type optimization for the different mobile bots/users…understood easier said than done, but am building case studies :)

    I feel this becomes even more logical going forward for tablet, TV, automobile, etc device type searches than creating a subdomain/directory for each device type when you have a 1 to 1 relationship to your desktop pages.

    I would argue its actually EASIER to simply create an m. (does make more sense when you have a limited mobile site) but then if you aren’t creating a separate section for the feature phone & smartphone pages, you would be using the single URL strategy above but on the weaker m. vs the stronger www.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/natewhite Nate White

    “When Googlebot comes by, serve it your desktop content; but when her sisters Googlebot mobile and smartphone Googlebot arrive, give them your feature phone site (if you have one) and your smartphone site, respectively.”

    This is done in the robots.txt file, correct? Can you share an example of a site that executes this properly?

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

    Hi Michael,

    Do you have an example of a site that is being hurt in the search engine rankings because their mobile site at m. is splitting link equity? I know that it’s a common concern with you and others who give advice about mobile SEO, but as I’ve mentioned many times in this column before, splitting URLs in order to address users of a different platform with different needs is not considered duplicate content (http://searchengineland.com/dont-penalize-yourself-mobile-sites-are-not-duplicate-content-40380). This is one thing that Google has been consistent on when they’ve addressed the issue. And honestly I’ve never seen evidence of a site that builds out content on a separate subdomain and properly redirects mobile user agents not ranking for queries that their desktop site ranks on. With December’s Old Possum/Skip Redirect update, mobile sites will now appear for relevant queries regardless of their link equity. So I understand your concern, but without any evidence to the contrary I have to conclude that it’s unfounded.

    I’d also be interested in seeing a site that actually serves different content to smartphone and tablet users at the same URL instead of just reformatting if you have it. Seems like a lot of work to avoid a non-issue to me, but if you’d care to share I’m sure it would be impressive.

    Best,
    Bryson

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

    Hi Nate,

    No, it’s actually done at the server level or in the page itself. There are a number of sites that do this properly, including Walgreens. Since you’re new to it, I would highly recommend the mobile redirection script generator at Mobile Moxie that I mentioned in the article: http://www.mobilemoxie.com/site-analysis/redirection-script-generator/

    Thanks for the question!

    Best,
    Bryson

  • http://www.mobilemartin.com/ Michael Martin

    Bryson,

    I can clarify with you at SMX this week, its not done for duplication concerns as that is an agreed moot point, but to allow the site to rank in the current & upcoming search environments for mobile – Its the having your cake & eating it too scenario ;)

  • http://www.drostdesigns.com/ Herman Drost

    Bryson..is their any advantage in registering a .mobi domain instead of creating the mobile site on a subdomain?

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

    Hi Herman, Thanks for the question. No, there’s not. Dotmobi deserves credit for their commitment to the mobile Web, but there’s no evidence that dotMobis are favored in search results. There is, however, evidence against: http://searchengineland.com/seven-mobile-seo-myths-exposed-103470

    Best,
    Bryson

  • http://twitter.com/shashankscg Shashank Gupta

    Hi Bryson, great post I must say. I have been planning to go in for mobile version of my business site, and I was researching for the same online. My team had already put a plan in place, and we were in the process of implementing it. Right when I stumbled upon your post, and after reading it I realized, we totally forgot the Image optimization for mobile. Thanks for this post that brought our attention to this crucial detail of Mobile SEO. Looking forward to more from you on mobile SEO

  • Bryson Meunier

    Thanks, Shashank! Happy to help!