• Bryson Meunier

    Hi Chris. Love that you’re writing about mobile SEO, but the
    tips that you’re giving could actually make a brand less visible in mobile
    search, not more. That’s not really what most people would call optimization.

    For example, you mention duplication on m. subdomains as
    being a problem for SEO, and excluding through robots.txt as a solution, but
    this essentially makes your site invisible for navigational queries. I
    mentioned how well this tactic worked for Home Depot’s site visibility last
    year in Search Engine Land (http://searchengineland.com/why-mobile-friendly-is-not-mobile-seo-66192),
    and I would imagine it wouldn’t work much better for their English twin.

    A better solution is to use device detection and user agent
    redirection so that the desktop searcher will never see a smartphone page and
    vice versa. If you put canonical tags on the mobile duplicates, you can also
    retain any link equity that may be split between the desktop URL and the mobile
    URL, which is basically lost when you nofollow the entire mobile site with
    robots.txt.

    If you redirect the URLs properly, you could also have the
    mobile URL appear in smartphone search results (through Google’s recent Old
    Possum/Skip Redirect update (http://www.brysonmeunier.com/skip-redirectold-possum-in-google-smartphone-search-results/)),
    which could increase the click through rate to your listing.

    Your client is also using Usablenet to transcode their
    desktop content for mobile, which isn’t ideal for SEO for a number of reasons: http://www.brysonmeunier.com/review-of-usablenet-for-mobile-seo/

    As for your endorsement of responsive web design, we’re
    actually debating the merits in the Mobile Search column on Search Engine Land and
    elsewhere (http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/170903/mobile-seo-separate-from-responsive-web-design.html).
    Not sure why you equate mobile sites with the past, as even the founder of
    responsive web design never intended for RWD to replace mobile sites. If the
    user goals are different (which they often are), there’s still a need for
    dedicated mobile content on mobile URLs.

    For example, when I looked at the search demand in mobile and
    desktop for B&Q, their mobile searchers overindex for location related
    queries (e.g. hours, store finder/locator, city names, phone number, etc). This
    is typical for retail brands with a local presence and represents an
    opportunity to make the mobile homepage more suited to a mobile searcher’s
    goals than the desktop page by making it as easy as possible for them to find a
    location near them. However, since B&Q is simply repurposing their desktop
    content without thinking of the mobile searcher’s goals, that content is not
    included and a big opportunity to drive more traffic and engagement is missed.

    If you want to read more about the pros and cons of RWD vs
    mobile first, I won’t repeat them here, but would suggest that you read more of
    the mobile search column here at Search Engine Land (http://searchengineland.com/library/mobile-search/), including the following related
    articles:

    http://searchengineland.com/how-to-best-optimize-your-mobile-site-for-seo-112940

    http://searchengineland.com/consider-mobile-content-carefully-for-users-better-seo-92597

    http://searchengineland.com/one-url-to-rule-them-all-for-mobile-seo-115366

    As it is I’m afraid you’re helping your readers make their
    sites less visible in mobile search, which is probably not your intention.

    Best,
    Bryson

  • https://plus.google.com/115256783759878789088/posts Hari Kumar

    Duplicate content is an issue faced while doing mobile websites. But i have observed that when full width landing pages are used for mobile websites for the customers to take action then the problem seldom arises. Also when the website is designed in full width it will automatically re size. Another method is to have sub domains for mobile websites.

  • http://twitter.com/liversidge Chris Liversidge

    Hi Bryson, and thanks for the thoughtful points!

    I should point out that none of the sites mentioned are clients of mine – I don’t think that’s appropriate so I use example cases that are unrelated to QueryClick. So your points about B&Q, while valid, should perhaps be targeted at their in-house team instead.

    I agree there is a design argument for creating mobile specific pages – though I fall on the side opposing Jakob Nielsen on this one. See: http://www.netmagazine.com/interviews/nielsen-responds-mobile-criticism

    I don’t advocate in the article that the best practice is to exclude URLs, quite the opposite. Responsive design utilising a single URL is absolutely the way to go – which I felt the final section made clear but perhaps I should have spelt it out a little more.

    I would argue that the responsive design approach does in fact increase a site’s visibility due to the condensed domain authority, and it is entirely possible to get responsive URLs indexed for mobile search so there’s really no disadvantage – from a pure SEO point of view – to the responsive approach.

    When you factor in the significant overhead savings for ongoing maintenance, it’s a no-brainer choice in my opinion.

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

    Hi Chris,

    Fair enough. My criticism is for B&Q’s in-house team, then, and for the many marketers who choose the easy over the optimal, as they seem to have done.

    Regarding URL exclusion, I was referring to when you recommended restricting content to mobile user agents with robots.txt (i.e. “For a belt and braces approach (always preferred if you ask me!), using the robots.txt to restrict access to the m.diy.com subdomain to mobile user-agents only (for example Googlebot-mobile) would prevent the poor brand experience and SEO duplication issues in their tracks.”). This technique tends to unnecessarily prevent relevant content from showing for searchers, which the user agent detection tends to fix.

    You’re entitled to your opinion on responsive web design, and I agree that there’s a time and place for it, but citing increased domain authority  as an SEO reason for responsive design is misleading at best. As I explained in my response, mobile URLs with no domain authority frequently outrank desktop URLs thanks to Google’s Old Possum/Skip redirect update in December. 

    Beyond that, there is a disadvantage to the responsive design approach in that you could be excluding content that mobile searchers are looking for, as I explained in my response and in the articles I pointed you to. If you’d like to address the points I’d made there I’d be happy to continue with this discussion.

    Best,Bryson