m. & www.
In what seems to be a rare act of kindness, Google has offered up some guidelines and Mobile SEO best practices for those wondering how to best format their SEO for mobile search. In the new guidelines (see the full list on the Google Webmaster Central Blog), Google references responsive web design as the clear winner for best way of presenting your site to mobile search.
Responsive web design isn’t your only option, however; Google also offers two other suggestions for your mobile site. One suggestion is to have everything exist within the same URL, while creating different HTML coding for each device, also known as dynamic coding. The last option, and most commonly used at the moment, is to build an entirely separate mobile site.
If you’ve ever come across a website that directs to a m.website.com address, like m.google.com for example, you’ll see this option in practice.
Response to Responsive
Here at LGD, we have been practicing “Responsive Web Design” for a while. But what is responsive design? In brief, responsive web design identifies what mobile device you are using and resizes the website to fit your device in a way that is easier for the user to view. One of the biggest bonuses to responsive web design is its universal appeal; the ability to create one website for them all, if you will (a desktop site, tablet site and mobile/smartphone site).
Before the advent of responsive design, most mobile sites were not nearly as robust as the desktop counterpart, and did not have nearly the same functionality. However, with the responsive design, all information and functionality existing on the desktop site translates to the mobile site as well, keeping functionality the same no matter the platform being used.
So it’s good for a user, but what about SEO?
By most definitions, especially with Google’s latest cuddly creature updates (Panda and Penguin), what is good for the user is generally also good for SEO. Because responsive design only affects the layout and the size of the site based on the platform, anything that you do to the regular site will carry over to your mobile site. Add two plus two and you’ll see the benefit immediately.
GoogleBot-Mobile, Google’s answer to crawling mobile sites, will also have no problem visiting your responsive design, which will tell them where to go based on device (more spiders crawling your site, woohoo!). This also means that your linking strategy, onsite SEO strategy and any other SEO strategy you choose to implement on your website will also affect your mobile site.
Just remember to keep in mind when optimizing for Mobile SEO that most mobile searches have to do with location, so make sure your Geotags are up to date!
Do you think responsive is the way to go, or do you prefer separating your sites? Let us know in the comments section below.