BrightEdge has released a report that observes, “over one in four mobile sites are misconfigured, leading to a massive loss of potential traffic. Twenty-seven percent of mobile sites are ranked lower than they should be because Google and other search engines do not recognize the mobile site as related to its desktop counterpart.”
The report was inspired by panel discussion at SMX Advanced earlier this month. BrightEdge says its data (billions of queries) reflect about “62 percent of organic searches show different results depending on whether the search was performed on a desktop or smartphone.”
The SEO firm sought to determine whether specific types of “mobile configuration” impacted mobile search rankings. By ”mobile configuration” the company means responsive design, dynamic serving or dedicated mobile sites (separate URLs)
BrightEdge found no significant general ranking difference among the three approaches. However it did find that mobile sites tended to rank “half a position lower” overall than on the PC. It attributed this to competition from local results.
Yet improperly configured mobile sites showed a much worse outcome: “an incorrectly implemented site resulted in a drop in smartphone rank by almost two positions (1.82 on average).” That lower position translated into a 68 percent decline in traffic.
In terms of configuration errors, BrightEdge said responsive had none (which makes sense). Dynamic serving saw a 30 percent error rate. But separate URLs (dedicated mobile sites) saw a massive 72 percent configuration error rate.
The following are the types of errors observed when using separate URLs:
The report reviews and explains each of these types of errors in detail. It cautions marketers and publishers to consider their approaches to mobile design carefully and to think about how users interact with their content. Is a smartphone user likely to do the same things as on a PC (responsive) or will he/she interact with content differently in a mobile context (dynamic, separate URLs)?
A full copy of the report, which promotes BrightEdge services, can be downloaded here (reg. required).