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Anyone with a smartphone knows that search is one of the most popular functions on mobile, yet mobile SEO is still a poor relation compared to desktop.

A quick look at the stats shows that we should be paying more attention to mobile SEO, with data from Marin showing that mobile devices accounted for 13% of search spend in June 2012 yet took a 20% share of clicks.

However creating a mobile site isn’t a simple process and there are several criteria that need to be taken into account to effectively optimise a site for a mobile audience.

SEO consultant Aleyda Solis addressed the topic of mobile search at BrightonSEO last week, listing seven things that marketers need to ask themselves when optimising a site for mobile SEO.

Here’s a run through of Solis’s points...

1. How does your mobile audience behave on your site?

Before building a mobile site it is important to know if your site really has mobile visitors and whether there is enough of them to make it worth your while.

You can use Google Analytics to create a segment for organic mobile traffic and then look at the volume of visits, devices used, the landing pages they tend to hit and the most popular keywords.

Then look at what type of content is most popular with mobile users and prioritise it when building the mobile site.

2. Where does your site appear in mobile search results?

Investigate where, if at all, your site appears in mobile search results and which keywords and pages are already obtaining visibility.

Use Google Webmaster Tools to find out the top queries and pages showing in mobile SERPs, which will again help to identify which content you need to optimise for mobile.

3. How does your audience use mobile search?

If you know that your potential customers are using mobile search you need to find out how to make yourself more visible to them to help increase your mobile traffic.

Solis recommends using Google’s Keyword Tool mobile filter to find the keywords your audience search with, then look at Our Mobile Planet to check how consumers are using their mobile devices.

4. How does your site render on mobile devices?

It’s important to test how your content looks on mobile devices when designing the site, as if it doesn’t render correctly consumers will be more likely to go elsewhere.

Use Google’s Getmometer, PageSpeed Insights and the ‘Fetch as Google mobile bot’ feature in Webmaster Tools to test how mobile users and bots reach and see your site.

5. What content and products are you offering to your mobile audience?

Mobile users don’t necessarily want all the same content as your desktop audience. For example, mobile search often has more of a local focus then desktop.

You need to identify what your mobile customers are looking for, and whether or not you are catering for it. Are you offering them localised content, and if not do you have the capacity to develop it?

6. Do you have the technical capacity to develop a mobile site?

If your site doesn’t render correctly on mobile devices then you need to consider whether you have the required budget to make it responsive, dynamically serve content or build a parallel mobile version.

This table shows the pros and cons of each format.

Ideally you need to use responsive design although this may not be possible depending on your technical capacity and content needs.

Google also offers advice on how to build mobile websites here.

7. Based on these criteria, decide on the type of mobile site you need

The behaviour of your mobile audience and your technical capabilities will determine the type of mobile site that suits you best.

Loris created this flowchart to help you decide which of the three design options is best for your site.

To view the slides from Solis' BrightonSEO presentation go here

David Moth

Published 18 September, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1696 more posts from this author

Comments (11)

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Hannah Norman, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai Ltd

I really enjoyed this talk! It is one of the areas of SEO I am particularly interested in and wrote my own blog along similar lines. You can take a look here http://kooz.ai/P7t1UK not as in depth as Aleyda's but worth a read! Thanks.

over 4 years ago


Paul Green Deal

Great article, this is one area that is going to get even more important over the next few months and years as mobile usage continues to rise. How does a mobile version of your website however affect the google mobile search results - will it help it become more prominent over sites that are just built for desktops?

over 4 years ago


Hannah Norman, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai Ltd

If you have a mobile site and a desktop site the results in search engines are split. For example you cant view and subsequently click a mobile page result in a desktop search. This however isn't the other way around.

There are loads of points to consider in this,

-For local search, a website with local intent may well become more relevant (and have higher rankings eventually) to desktop searchers with localisation in the search.

-Having a mobile optimised version of your site (as a responsive design I think) would, in mobile searches be favoured by the user over a non-mobile optimised site and thus bounce rates between the differing types may have a differing effect on rankings too.

-The same is true for site speed I expect. Whereby a slow loading desktop site on a mobile will have a negative impact on rank and bounce.

There is a lot to consider and as the rates of mobile searches increase it's likely to spur more debate and work for us all!

over 4 years ago


Nick Stamoulis

Knowing how your site looks and works on a variety if mobile devices is so important. Most smartphones are touchscreen, will it be easy for a user to click on the exact link they want? Will the resolution adjust for different sized phones and tablets? It's important to keep the user experience intact.

over 4 years ago


cory J

I think that its very important for many SEO companies and practitioners to learn about mobile SEO because it is the next big thing when it comes to optimization. But I think, there are a lot already who is doing that so the question now is, what will be the next step for SEO?

over 4 years ago



Search Engine Optimization is not as easy on the mobile platform as it is on regulat websites. This article gives me a lot of ideas on how to improve my mobile SEO

over 4 years ago


Neale Gilhooley

No. 4 - Just use a mobile phone to see your site live, instead of using Google’s Getmometer which by the way asks you to fill in most of the info which makes up the instant report, bit of an automated con methinks. A MobBot even.

over 4 years ago


Andrew Hauser

Another thing businesses should consider when ramping up their mobile presence is creating online video. Online video is easy to produce without professional help, and it can be a great way to create brand awareness and build your reputation. In addition, adding video to your existing enterprise software system or learning management system (LMS) can help keep employees in the loop even when they’re on-the-go. My company, KZO Innovations (http://www.kzoinnovations.com), helps companies to do this--I hope you’ll check out our site!

over 4 years ago


Bryson Meunier

I write a column on mobile SEO in Search Engine Land and was on the panel at SMX Advanced in Seattle this year where Pierre Far of Google announced this preference. I have enjoyed a lot of what Aleyda has written on the subject, but I disagree with the red/yellow/green prioritization with separate mobile sites being the last viable option. In fact, Google did not express a preference over dynamic serving and separate mobile URLs, so if we want to use this visual logic both separate mobile URLs and dynamic serving should be yellow. And given that there is no risk of split link equity with rel=alternate and rel=canonical tags, and Google doesn't recommend responsive web design for sites that are accessed with feature phones (which still represents the majority of mobile handsets), it's unclear that any of these options should be colored at all. There are pros and cons with all of them, and all can be used to make content optimized for mobile devices. I understand that Aleyda may have been trying to simplify a complex subject for lay readers, but in my mind it's a bit of an oversimplification.

over 4 years ago


Bryant Jaquez

I'll be honest. I HATE to shop on my phone. Most websites are terribly under-optimized for mobile. I think mobile SEO is mostly about usability because people will avoid your website if it's too hard to use. Focus on usability, and everything else can be built on top of that.

over 4 years ago


Raj Srivastav

Everyone Website Creating Mobile version without understating its efficiency. Build a website and make it popular and do optimization for keywords. Having mobile version is most important for Online shopping sites. Once you made it popular build your mobile version and do promotion according to latest technique.

about 4 years ago

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