SEO for mobile and making sure mobile doesn’t mess up your SEO

A crazy percentage of searches these days are performed on mobile phones. Many site owners haven’t considered what that can mean for their businesses.

Mobile search results are different

First, the results aren’t always the same as the results searchers get on their desktops. You may be ranking on desktops and invisible on mobile phones. SEO Roundtable reported a study that found that search results on a desktop differed from search results on a smart phone by about 86%. I found that for the keyword “SEO” my results didn’t differ at all. But for the keyword “restaurants” the results on my phone and desktop were completely different. In fact, when I copied my search results page URL from my phone to my desktop, the results changed.

How do you SEO your site for mobile?

First, choose whether or not to create a separate mobile site.

Understand that a lot of the difference between results on a phone and desktop come from Google’s propensity to favor local results on a mobile phone. What does that mean? It means there’s a high likelihood that Google’s going to rank your Places Page instead of either your regular site or your mobile site. If that’s the case, you only need a mobile site if someone decides to visit your site from your Places Page.

That also means that it’s extra important for mobile search to have your Google Places listing correct and optimized.

Decide whether you need a mobile site

Take a good hard look at your normal site. Is it mobile ready?

For example, any portion of your site created in Flash will be totally unusable on all iPhones and iPads. So all-Flash sites are totally sunk. But even if your whole site isn’t in Flash, if the first thing a visitor sees is a big blank spot on your site, or you have your navigation or important information in Flash, you will have problems. As an SEO, don’t say I didn’t warn you away from Flash.

My personal opinion is that mobile sites are a waste. It’s much better to spend the time and money getting your existing site in working order. Remember, Google Preview can’t read Flash either. Neither can search engines. Fixing your site for mobile will also generally fix it for users and search engines in general.

No one wants a site with decreased functionality, which is what most mobile sites are. And if they do, that means your normal site has too much functionality and you need to pare it down to what visitors will find useful.

But let’s say you do decide to create a mobile version of your site. How should you SEO it? First, you’ve got to be sure Google can index it. Then read this article, which shows you how to ensure your users get to the right version of your site.

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