July 25, 2013
Google handles mobile sites in a slightly different manner than desktop pages. If you want optimal SEO results, combined with a great user experience for visitors on mobile devices, there are a few things that you must keep in mind. If you’re creating your mobile website from scratch, you might be wondering how you should set it up. But if you already have a mobile version of your site up and running, then you can simply look at the section that applies to the way it is implemented and take it from there. The three main mobile implementations are: responsive design, dynamic serving and mobile URLs.
With responsive design, both the mobile and desktop versions of your site will use the same URLs. The same content will be served to the user but the type of device and its screen size are detected. This allows the page to display adequately on a smaller screen, with less images, a lower amount of text and navigation options that are better suited for mobile.
One of the most important things to consider here is how long your pages take to load. Your pages should be quick to load on mobile devices and shouldn’t send large content, such as ads or videos that won’t be seen on a mobile device in any case. If you believe this would be a problem in your case, you might want to look into using dynamic content instead.
Here again, you will have one URL for mobile and desktop content. However, the page will display different content to users of different devices. This is a good choice if loading all of the content that your desktop page normally has would cause slow page load times on mobile devices. If you use this implementation, you should make sure you are using the “Vary: User-Agent HTTP response header.”
This is because you will need to ensure that when the server detects a mobile user agent, the mobile page will display and conversely for a desktop user agent.
Mobile URLs originated back when mobile devices had no chance of being able to deal with the massive amount of content desktop pages had. Today. Mobile pages are just a slightly modified version of the original pages that are constructed to fit on smaller screens.
If you use this option, you should watch how you handle your redirects. If a desktop user accesses the mobile page, they should be redirected to the desktop version and vice-versa. Even though this simply involves redirecting visitors based on their user agent, many sites still don’t do it. If you have these redirects in place, there isn’t anything specific you need to do for the Googlebot, as it has one user agent for desktop and another for mobile. You will just need to ensure that your redirects work properly and don’t send the visitor to an irrelevant page.
As for tablet users, studies have shown that they prefer seeing the full desktop version, so you shouldn’t redirect a tablet user agent to a mobile version of your page.
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