I have been thinking a lot of about mobile SEO recently. It’s a confusing subject because people sometimes don’t break it apart very well.

There are 2 sides to SEO – onsite and offsite i.e. stuff to make your site easier to crawl plus index and links as a signal to show the importance of a page.

About Onsite SEO

With onsite SEO, there is a lot going on with mobile because largely it’s messy and needs urgent attention. It’s relatively easy for a small content site to be responsive i.e. works across all devices, but its a whole lot harder when you are working with a transactional site like Betfair or Skyvegas where users are actively playing with real money and everything has to work 100%.

In those cases iGaming companies often just point users to a mobile web app irrespective of what their search query was.  For this post, I’ve done a search for ‘Online Casino’ on my mobile phone and desktop machine.

What It Looks Like

On both mobile and desktop the 1st result goes to jackpot city which is a responsive page. The 2nd goes to Skyvegas which isn’t .

Screenshot_2013-06-24-09-57-38-576x1024

Here is Skyvegas result from desktop

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Here is Skyvegas result from mobile

Screenshot_2013-06-24-10-08-21-600x337

Notice the URL?
(hint: its not the same as the desktop site)

This ‘misrepresentation’ is a big issue for Google because they want a consistent user experience i.e. you see a search result, click on it and get what you expect and not some random site that sort-of fulfills your expectations. The trouble is Google has to put up with this for a while longer till site owners can offer users the ‘as advertised’ experience from a mobile search result.

Google will generally give you the same results whether you are on mobile or desktop. And whether its mobile or desktop, a site is typically ranked off the place which has the best link profile i.e. mysite.com versus m.mysite.com. So because mobile sites don’t usually get the biggest share of links, they don’t rank ahead of desktop sites on mobile devices.

Does that make sense?
If you take 2 sites m.mysite.com and mysite.com with identical content, do linkbuilding to m.mysite.com, then m.mysite.com would outrank the desktop site on all devices because of the stronger link profile on m.mysite.com.

Back to Onsite SEO

Michael Martin from Covario pinged me an interesting post on how Google is now starting to clamp down on this issue of ‘misrepresentation’.

Google is urging webmasters to configure their sites correctly otherwise  Google will not rank you as high on mobile search  if you have bad onsite user experience for Mobile – see the article here.

So to be clear…
Links = rankings whether its desktop or mobile.
Bad Mobile SEO =  used to not affect rankings.
Bad Mobile = is now about to affect rankings on mobile.

It’s a confusing subject, but one well worth paying close attention to.

Nick Garner

Nick Garner

Nick is founder of 90 Digital. Previously he was head of search at Unibet and prior to that search manager Betfair.

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