Four Mobile SEO Mistakes you Should Avoid

2 July 2013


Birmingham: While the rise in the use of responsive web design is dropping the amount of SEO considerations developers need to keep in mind when creating a new site, there are still basic difference that need to be considered all through the design stages and beyond.

Even when a site primarily works irrespective of the device being used, and Google has no troubles in crawling it with its mobile user agent, those in charge of analytics can frequently forget the significance of segmentation, treating traffic from all sources as being

Even when a site fundamentally works regardless of the device being used, and Google has no problems in crawling it with its mobile user agent, those in charge of analytics can often forget the importance of segmentation, treating traffic from all sources as being the same.

Here are four SEO mistakes you should not be making on your site that will help you feel beyond how pretty your site appears on your mobile.

1. Using the wrong configurations on non-responsive mobile sites

Yes, responsive design is rapidly becoming the standard when serving up an optimized experience for mobile users, but that doesn’t mean its practice is yet universal.

The two other methods you’ll come across are:

  • Separate mobile URLs
  • Dynamic serving

Both of these ways of delivering mobile specific content require unique configurations that, in spite of how intelligent Google is becoming in knowing how to crawl and index your site suitably, are vital when optimizing your site for mobile.

Separate mobile URLs

This was the more common method of delivering a mobile optimized website before responsive design came along. You have a mobile site on a different sub-domain, such as, keeping all of your mobile content on different URLs. 

The two most significant points if you’re using this method are:

  1. Use the rel=”alternate” tag pointing to the mobile URL on the desktop version of the page, helping Google find your mobile content.
  2. Use the rel=”canonical” tag pointing to the desktop URL on the mobile version of the page, helping Google understand which version of the content is duplicated.

You will come across other problems such as people linking to the mobile URL and not the regular version, which while not a huge issue in itself, is still bothersome nonetheless.

Dynamic Serving

Dynamic serving of content brings a user experience not dissimilar to having separate mobile URL’s as above, only you are able to keep the URL’s the same. This is attained by serving up different HTML to desktop devices than to mobile devices.

While this method is used more often than separate mobile URLs, it is more complicated to setup and configure. Because the mobile content is not immediately visible, Google advise that you hint to the different content by using the Vary HTTP header, so that Googlebot-Mobile knows to crawl the site as well.

2. Thinking Googlebot-Mobile will treat your site like Googlebot

With responsive design, you have to concern much less about Googlebot-Mobile specific crawling issues, but that doesn’t mean you can forget about them altogether. As part of your routine technical health checks on your site, keep in mind to look at the regular and mobile user agents separately, otherwise you might miss issues that didn’t initially surface.

You have two primary tools at your disposal:

  • Google and Bing Webmaster Tools.
  • A search engine spider and crawling tool such as Screaming Frog SEO Spider.

3. Forgetting that mobile searchers are not identical to desktop searchers

One of the advantages of the previous ways of designing mobile optimized website, prior to responsive, was that developers/designers had to think about the desktop audience from the mobile audience separately.

With responsive design you are delivering the same website to all users, meaning the same content and the same keyword optimizations. But, the kind of searches people make on their mobiles tend to be different from the ones they make on their desktops, therefore you constantly need to be considering context on your website.

4. Not segmenting your mobile traffic

The last mistake you should not be making regards analytics. If you’re sincerely considering going mobile, start by comprehending your audience and their browsing habits using your analytics platform, probably Google Analytics. Then, carry on segmenting your data to comprehend how different users are using your site.

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