Mobile SEO: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Let me just start by saying the there is no such a thing as “mobile SEO”, just SEO for mobile search.

True mobile SEO could only exist if you only have a mobile site and the only link building you do is from other mobile sites and pursue other SEO activities on only mobile based platforms. In other words, “mobile SEO” doesn’t really exist, it’s just another part of SEO, and should be treated as such.

I’m sure that statement will not win me any friends within the mobile SEO world, but it’s true. As search engine mobile and desktop results merge and the lines between mobile SERPs and desktop SERPs become similar if not the same; along with the fact that mobile devices now have virtually the same capabilities as desktop machines (apart from screen size), the lines have blurred.

We have to ask the question, how long will Google maintain mobile SERPs in countries such as the UK and US, where smartphone ownership is rapidly outgrowing the sales of “non-smart” devices?

With that question in mind, you now have to ask if you are investing wisely in “mobile SEO” or rather, is your SEO campaign up to scratch and are you making the most of your mobile offering so it benefits your SEO campaign as a whole?

Let’s look at the good, the bad and the ugly – well, that’s a bit harsh, but here are two examples that show mobile considerations, but could be executed better and one that hits the nail on the head in terms of being mobile SEO friendly.

Flats In Leeds Mobile1. The Ugly – a.k.a. – The Shoe-horned In Solution

Although this site is a WordPress site (and we have to keep in mind that because of this, it’s probably never seen a developer) but for the type of site and potential mobile offering, it’s really missing a trick.

Since the site uses coordinates, addresses and maps to locate flats / apartments, it’s a prime candidate for an all singing, all dancing mobile site which can maximise the features of a smartphone.

When you browse the mobile site, either by clicking the link in the footer, on your mobile or by changing your user agent, you’ll sigh and probably feel the same as I did. What a wasted opportunity.

For a start, the site owners could invest in developing a mobile version of the site simply as a means of link building, after all, this is all about SEO and one of the best ways to build natural links is to offer something people want to share and talk about.

So, what better than a mobile web app or mobile site which makes people want to visit the site to use its functionality and then tell their friends to go and use it. Voila! SEO through mobile.

This mobile site is begging to utilise geo-location and social integration and not just the Wordpress plugin to display the posts.

Staveley Head Mobile2. The Bad – A Tough Industry To Find Mobile Opportunities

Here’s the tough one which many businesses may relate to, an industry where you can’t really sell a product on a mobile device and in an industry which doesn’t naturally attract people until there’s an explicit need.

Insurance is an industry where the products are tailored to the individual and a multitude of forms are needed to capture the details of the user, and are therefore, not necessarily mobile friendly.

If you browse the mobile version of this site, you’ll see that they simply serve the newsfeed into a mobile-friendly template. Don’t get me wrong, this is a big tick in Google’s good boy box, but it’s not going to get you any links to assist with your SEO campaign.

So, what to do? Well, after a little digging and head scratching, I found that the desktop site has a petrol (gas) price index which has been bookmarked and Tweeted many times (linked from the homepage). This made me think, would it be worthwhile to build a mobile app which directed you to the cheapest petrol (gas) station using the phones built-in maps, navigation and gps capabilities?

Probably not, as it would have to be a free service and they’re an insurance company; but let’s say they did, they would possibly create a piece of link bait which would benefit both the mobile and desktop sites. As I said at the start of this post, there is no such thing as “mobile SEO” just SEO that can be applied to mobile sites.

What about conversions I hear you say, well to be fair, how many conversions are you going to get from a mobile insurance site where every user is going to enter unique information? You might as well just consider your mobile site as another tool in you SEO toolbox and tell Google you consider mobile users.

Will It Blend Mobile3. The Good – Or A Happy Little Accident

This is a tricky one, I’m not going to mention Amazon or eBay as I’ve mentioned them previously and their mobile sites don’t necessarily benefit their SEO campaigns, yet they have them because they make these companies money.

So who has a mobile offering that benefits the whole from an SEO point of view?

“Wait just a minute there!” I hear you say, “that’s not a mobile site and it’s definitely not mobile SEO”.

Well, no it’s a mobile site and no it’s not mobile SEO, or is it? What Blendtec has done, intentionally or not, is create content which has the “down the pub” factor. The content is just the kind of thing people, especially men, will show their mates when they’re down at the pub on their phone.

And, what do people use their phones for besides talking? Social networking, and what is an influencing factor in SEO these days? Social indicators such as Likes, Shares, Tweets and now +1s.

Bingo! A great link baiting idea that was conceived way before mobile capabilities are what they are today and before social signals started influencing the SERPs like they do now. So what Blendtec has  inadvertently done is to create a great piece of mobile based SEO without it even being mobile SEO.

Come on Blendtec, it’s also time for an update to take full advantage of videos being viewed down the pub and shared between friends.

So to sum up this post, “mobile SEO” doesn’t truly exist but creating great mobile content (or not!) should still be part of your SEO strategy.

With mobile, we have to be looking to the near future and thinking how the search engines will adapt to cater for this quickly developing niche within an industry that is developing at a million miles per hour.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Mobile Search


About The Author: is SEO manager at Epiphany Solutions, a search marketing agency in Leeds UK, Andrew has been involved in digital and search since 1996 and has worked and consulted for FTSE 250 organisations in multinational environments. Read more at

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