Blog Series

Mobile SEO Series: Tech Talk for Mobile SEO

For the second series in our blog post we are going to help you make sure your mobile site appears as it should to a user’s mobile. Now that we know the stats and the growth of mobile SEO, we'll look at little more closely at the technical elements that need to be addressed.

Google have started to display their preference towards mobile friendly websites. In October 2014 Google SERPs began emphasising ‘mobile-friendly’ sites as you can see highlighted in the below image:

 

                                                                                                       technical mobile seo mobile friendly in serp

Your technical mobile SEO needs to be up to scratch in order to avoid being penalised by Google. This will also help users find and navigate to your site with ease.  The first step in making sure your mobile site meets best practice SEO guidelines is to figure out what kind of mobile site you have.

There are three different types of mobile sites you can have:

Dynamic Serving
A dynamic serving is if your Mobile URLs are the same but the appearance or HTML of your mobile site is different.

The top thing to note when you have a dynamic serving mobile website is to make sure that your ‘Vary HTTP Header’ is detecting all user agents.

This requires two actions from you:

  • Updating your list of user-agent strings or substrings  on a regular basis
  • Be careful not to mismatch a desktop agent with a mobile agent
Separate Mobile Site

If the URL changes from www.yourdomain.com to m.yourdomain.com, you are running a separate mobile site.

Top things to note if you have a separate mobile site:

  • Place a canonical tag on your mobile version pointing to your desktop version.
For example, you would place the below snippet on your mobile version:
<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.yourdomain.com/" >
  • Make sure your pages are redirecting correctly, i.e. that your desktop product page redirects to the mobile version of the same product page. Google recommends using 302 redirects for mobile rather than 301s.
For example:

http://www.yourdomain.com/product-page-1

302 Redirects to:

http://m.yourdomain.com/product-page-1

  • Create a separate mobile XML sitemap and upload to webmaster tools
  • Check if your mobile site is being indexed on a desktop SERP by completing a Google site search for m.yourdomain.com. If your website is still being indexed, you need to double check your canonical tags and redirects to ensure Google is not reading your mobile site as duplicate content.                                                                     technical mobile seo

Responsive Mobile Site

If the URL and source code does not change but the CSS adjusts the appearance to fit the screen of the device it’s on.

Google advocates responsive design as it leaves less room for error. So if your mobile site is responsive than you’re in a favourable position from a technical point of view and have fewer issues to consider.

Mobile Checklist

Once you have configured your mobile site correctly, you can then refer to our main check list relevant to all three types of mobile sites.

1) Site Speed

Google has now integrated site speed into their ranking algorithm so it’s important not to forget your mobile site speed when checking issues. There are numerous reasons your site speed may be reduced, the same as with reducing site speed for your desktop version.  Increasing your site’s speed is a whole blog series in itself.

There are loads of brilliant resources online to help you, but here are some of the main elements that will help increase your mobile site speed:

  • Enabling compression
  • Making sure your images are optimised
  • Minifying CSS and Javascript

Check how your mobile’s site speed fares with Google’s site speed tool here and see which issues need fixing.

2) Check for Unsupported Technologies

Make sure your mobile site does not contain flash as it’s unsupported by iPhone and renders slow on Android.

3) Mobile-Friendly Checkout Process

The difference between a checkout process on mobile and desktop is completely different.  Making sure the checkout process is as easy for the user as possible may be as simple as asking your developers to add a line of code to make sure your forms are mobile keyboard friendly.

You can read more on how this is done here.

4) Tracking Mobile Visits

Another aspect to consider with technical mobile SEO is whether your tracking is configured correctly to accurately track and analyse your mobile visitors.

This might be as simple as making sure every page is tagged correctly or updating your Google Analytics to Universal.  This will eliminate self-referrals from your mobile website.

There are many elements to consider when checking the technical health of your mobile website. Each mobile website can present different problems so it is important to conduct a mobile SEO audit to highlight the gaps in your mobile site and make sure your users are being served a high quality mobile version that helps meet your business requirements.