Mobile SEO is a common misnomer in both the search and mobile industries. It simply doesn’t exist.
Why? When most people say “Mobile SEO,” what they really mean is local SEO. They’re talking about optimizing your website for users on their mobile phones doing searches on the go. For example, if you own a pizza shop and someone types in “Pizza” when they’re in your city, you want your result to show up first.
Is Local SEO the Same as Mobile SEO?
Mobile SEO is often presented as a new and emerging concern for website owners. In reality, it’s not new at all: It’s simply local SEO presented in a different fashion.
Learning to rank in local SEO means understanding the ways your users find businesses in your area, then optimizing for them.
Two of the most common ways are Google searches and Yelp searches.
Google searches depend on a lot of different factors, many of which are different than normal SEO factors. While being ranked well in the search engines for standard search will help, there’s extra work that needs to be done for local search.
You need to pay attention to citations. Citations are the number and accuracy of other sites that “cite” your business. These include the Yellow Pages, SuperPages, CitySearch and other such directories. Google uses them to validate your business to ensure that you really are who you say you are. Make sure the information from all the directories match your Google Places information.
You also need to pay attention to your ratings. The more ratings you have and the higher users rate your establishment the better your chances of ranking.
Optimizing for Yelp is mostly about getting as many reviews as possible, preferably with a high ranking. Getting a good ranking is crucial, but it’s better to have 200 reviews with a 4 star rating than 2 reviews with a 5 star rating. Focus on quantity first, but make sure you have the product and experience necessary that those ratings will be high.
Why Creating a “Made for Mobile” Site is a Bad Idea
Creating a “made for mobile” website is a bad idea for several reasons. First of all, it lets you be lazy on your main site design. It can also wreck havoc on your SEO efforts if it’s not done properly.
A great website should have great design. Great design will look great, no matter if you’re looking at it from an iPhone, an Android tablet or a desktop computer. Designing a second website just for mobile websites essentially means your main site just wasn’t designed carefully enough.
Many of the world’s best designed and most well known websites don’t have a different web version versus phone versions. For example, Apple’s website looks exactly the same on an iPhone as it does on a PC.
Having several different versions of your website can also cause search engines to get confused. It can get you penalized for duplicate content.
There are several ways around the issue. First, you can use rel=canonical to help redirect search engines from the mobile version of your site to your main site, if you absolutely have to have a secondary URL.
If you can avoid using a secondary URL, try to use flexible CSS and fluid layouts to help make the website look the same no matter what browser someone’s using. You can also use PHP’s user-agent detection to serve slightly different versions of websites to mobile users versus PC users.
No matter what you do, make sure there’s always a link to the full version of your website on any version of your mobile website.
There you have it. If you optimize your standard website to be top notch on both PC and mobile, you simply won’t have to do any extra work on creating an extra site. If you optimize your website for local results as well as global results, you’ll reap the benefits in both local searches and in the web in general, without having to put work specifically into “mobile SEO.”