Up Close @ SMX: Making Mobile SEO Perform For You – Design, Approach & Speed

up-close-at-smx-east-2014

Mobile SEO is very different from desktop SEO; therefore, ensuring you take the right approach to implementation is critical to success.

This was the overarching mobile message at SMX East in New York this past week. I was lucky enough to attend the session titled, “What SEOs Should Be Doing With Mobile,” which was jam-packed with insights from Google, BrightEdge, Mobile Moxie and Covario. Below are some key takeaways.

The “Year Of Mobile”

For many years now – seven, according to Michael Martin of Covario — marketers have been saying that it is the year of mobile. In fact, 40% of search is now conducted on a mobile device.  Gary Illyes from Google expanded on this by stating that 77% of mobile users research products and services on their mobile phones.

2covario-mobile-search

Courtesy of Covario

According to Jim Yu, CEO of BrightEdge, mobile is outpacing desktop by ten times. What’s more, 62% of keywords have different rank on mobile versus desktop (source: BrightEdge Data Cube).

As ranking variables become more complex, choosing the right “mobile approach” can have a significant impact on end results.

Growth in Visits, Smartphone Vs. Desktop

Courtesy of BrightEdge

Cindy Krum from Mobile Moxie talked through how Mobile SERPs are vastly different than desktop SERPs, but results can also vary from phone to tablet and even phone to phone.

Mobile Design, Approach & Google Approval

Consumers access information via multiple mobile device types, and each device type requires a different approach. The right approach to design is key to success. Responsive design has often been considered the ideal approach to take, and Gary Illyes from Google mentioned that this is Google’s preference.

However, Google’s preference for responsive design does not mean that these sites receive a rankings boost over sites that take other approaches to mobile-friendliness.

Illyes advised marketers to ensure that mobile-friendly design entails that your site is available, legible and usable. Cindy Krum from Mobile Moxie added cadence by highlighting that Google is “continually testing” and that things are changing rapidly.

covario-evolution-m0bile

Courtesy of Covario

The Green Icon

According to Krum, Google is constantly testing new things in mobile. A few months back, the search engine started notifying searchers with the ominous “Faulty Redirect” warning in search results.

Krum highlighted how Google is bringing back the “little green phone” icon in the mobile search results, as a sign of mobile-friendliness. Google confirmed that this maybe a thing for the future.

Something to think about: will there be a different symbol for tablets?

Approach – Risk & Compliance

Jim Yu from BrightEdge shared insight into how risk and compliance are big factors that marketers should consider when looking at a mobile approach. Yu pointed to BrightEdge data that showed non-compliant sites result in a lower rank of almost 2 positions.

The net result is a 68% lost smartphone opportunity. Yu posed the question: “As smartphones are becoming more important, can you risk losing share?”

The Pros & Cons Of Mobile Approach

The chart below shows the pros and cons of various mobile approaches. The full BrightEdge 2014 Mobile Share Report is available for download.

brightedge-chart

Courtesy of BrightEdge

Speed

Make sure that CSS and JavaScript are crawlable (aka don’t block them with robots), a key point highlighted by Google. Google will send less traffic if it appears that your server is slow!

(Note: Barry Schwartz goes into the Google crawling advice in more detail in this post on Search Engine Land.)

Cindy Krum went into even more detail as to why load time is so important for Mobile SEO and pointed out that a low page speed not only slows the crawler but also hurts UX (bad on mobile WiFi, even worse on 3G).

Google prefers responsive design, but it also prefers fast mobile pages.

How To Speed Up Responsive Design

Below is a chart showing various strategies for speeding up responsive design.

mobile-design-krum

Courtesy of Cindy Krum, Mobile Moxie

Summary

The year of mobile is truly upon us. If marketers do not ensure they take the right approach to mobile (design, approach and speed) then the mobile opportunity may pass them by.

Google can see the entire web now with the ability to crawl JavaScript and CSS. Google will send less bot traffic if your server is slow. Ensure that you look into risk and compliance (and pros and cons) of separate, dynamic, and responsive approaches and make sure that your server, speed, and load time does not let you down.

Presentations

Want to learn more? See the full presentations below!

Cindy Krum

Jim Yu

Michael Martin

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