A core element of mobile SEO is to determine where the mobile content will reside in relation to that of the standard desktop orientated site. This debate was even broached a year ago.
What Are The Mobile SEO URL Options?
- Same URL or One URL strategy
- An m. subdomain
- A third party site for mobile pages
- A .mobi TLD
Why Is The One URL Strategy Better For Mobile SEO?
With the large enterprise companies we work with at Covario, our position has been to recommend the one URL or same URL approach over the m. subdomain.
This approach requires user agent detection to trigger different rendering of the page based on the mobile device type which can also include the DocType and HEAD section of the code. Google specifically affirmed this is not cloaking back in their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.
The key is to change these sections for feature phones and smartphones as Google has two different mobile crawlers for these devices since the search results between feature phones and smartphones do differ from each other, as well as from the standard desktop search engine ranking results.
To be proactive, it is best to do this as well for tablets and TV rendering, which should get specific crawlers from the search engines in the near future.
In the end, why is this single URL approach better for mobile SEO?
- Link empowerment since all the link equity would be consolidated into one URL
- Mobile URLs rarely have much link equity on their own
- A URL being in an m. does not inherently have any advantage in mobile search
- Google and Bing have both affirmed its not cloaking to show different content on the same URL for the different mobile device types
- There is no need to create a subdomain every time there is a new device type
- Results in reduced load on your web server; and
- Definitively establishes a direct relationship of the different mobile renderings to your desktop instance
When Is An m. Subdomain A Better Option?
Using a subdomain for your mobile rendering is a close “1B” option to the one URL strategy and could be the preferred direction in many circumstances.
If you are only going to have a limited mobile site that doesn’t have a one-to-one relationship to your desktop instance, then having a subdomain for mobile would make sense.
Also, if your site already has a long established mobile subdomain the advantages of bringing it to the one URL does diminish.
The disadvantage is that you would need to have user agent detection on both your www- desktop instance as well your m. mobile instance to properly redirect the user to the other based on their device.
Then, you would need that user agent detection on the mobile subdomain to trigger different mobile content on the same mobile URL for feature phone and smartphone users.
Finally, you would then need to create a subdomain for each future device thus a tablet. subdomain then a tv. subdomain and possibly in the future a car. subdomain or appliance. subdomain.
There are of course, differing views on the one URL strategy, including that of my fellow columnist Bryson Meunier, who does prefer the the m. subdomain over the same URL strategy overall and I’m sure he will further expand on his position why in a future post.
Why Use A Third Party Site For Mobile Or A .Mobi TLD?
Using a third party site for your mobile pages such as Google’s mobile site service should only be a stopgap solution until you can capably provide mobile pages under your own domain, which is SEO 101.
As far as an SEO reason to use a .Mobi TLD for your mobile instance, the answer is the same to any inferred advantage this TLD has in the mobile results…none.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.