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Desktop vs mobile website SEO

Responsive design is the preferred method for setting up a mobile website. However, sometimes you aren't able to do that for whatever reason. So when you have a scenario where you have a desktop website and a separate mobile website there are several things to take into consideration for SEO. Here is what I learned over the past couple of months from a tremendous in-depth study on the subject of Mobile SEO.

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First, you need to make sure every single mobile page you set up has a canonical tag on it that points to the respective desktop URL. This will prevent Google from considering your site to have duplicate content and ding you for the violation.

After you set up a CNAME record on your domain server that points to the server where your mobile website resides, after about 24-72 hours you will be able to view the mobile website my typing "m.yourwebsite.com". You then need to get in and edit your desktop website. You need to add a script on every page (yes tedious, but necessary) that re-directs that desktop page to the mobile version of that web page when viewed on a smartphone. Be sure to add rel="alternate" inside the a href tag that points to the corresponding desktop URL. This helps the Googlebot discover the location of your site's mobile pages! Read more about annotation for desktop and mobile URLs.

Now here's the kicker. It is highly possible that your client will not want all 300+ pages recreated on a mobile website they may only select 30 of the top, most viewed pages for you to set up. When this is the case, you need to know how to handle the case of when a mobile user pulls up a page in Google search results (on their smartphone) and clicks the link to a page that you didn't create a mobile page for. Where should that user be re-directed?

It has been argued that you should send those clicks to the home page of the mobile website but I disagree. The reason I disagree with this is because I know that when you provide a link to a specific webpage about a specific topic and you then re-direct to a different page (other than the topic described in your link) Google considers this to be a faulty re-direct. You are not giving the user the information they wanted.

Some people thought that you should always serve up a mobile web page on a mobile phone, so pointing to the home page of the mobile site was the preferred method. Although always serving up a mobile version of the web page would be ideal, if a mobile version of a specific page does not exist, you should serve up the desktop version of that page not the mobile home page.I strongly believe that you need to provide the web page with the information on it to which you ranked for in Google.

After spending a lot of time researching and talking on different forums with other developers and SEO experts, I was finally provided a link to Google's documentation where this scenario is addressed. It was dated back in June of 2013. Here is a link to the Webmaster Blog that talks about Google's changes in rankings of smartphone search results.

With that said, that is the way I decided to program this new mobile website for Wayne Dalton. If you "google" a search term and get a wayne-dalton.com web page in your results if a mobile version page exists for that page, that is what you will see. If not, you will see the desktop version of that page. This method gives you the content you we're searching for. Yes, you may have to pinch and zoom in to read that page but don't you think that would be better than just landing on the home page of the mobile site in which you would then search for that page and after clicking around you find that there is no mobile version of that page?

As mentioned earlier, this scenario is only in cases where you cannot create a responsive website and are tasked with creating a separate mobile site and you are not going to re-create every single desktop web page only a percentage of those pages. If you have ever had this scenario, I welcome your thoughts on this subject.

SEO Page Titles

Page titles are one of the most important things to pay attention to when designing your new website for SEO. Be sure that your page title includes the keyword phrase that you want to rank for. Of course the page title needs to be what the content on your web page is covering otherwise you are not offering any value. You also want to choose a keyword phrase that people are actually searching for. If you want to know how many people search for a specific keyword phrase use Google's Keyword Tool and type the phrase into the search box.If the topic of the page is one of your less important pages then you don't need to focus on a high volume of searches. In fact, sometimes it's even good to rank high for low competitive keywords. (This is just another seo strategy).

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Posted in SEO Post Date 01/12/2017


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