SMX Liveblog: What Advanced SEOs Should Be Doing about Mobile SEO

In this session on advanced mobile SEO, we’re going to hear from a panel of experts:

  • Cindy Krum, CEO, MobileMoxie (@suzzicks)
  • Michael Martin, Senior SEO Manager, Covario (@mobile__martin)
  • Maile Ohye, Senior Developer Programs Engineer, Google Inc. (@maileohye)
  • Jim Yu, CEO, Brightedge (@jimyu)

Maile Ohye: Search Results on Smart Phones, Mobile Acquisitions Channels, Mobile Opt-ins and More

Websites do appear in SERPs in the mobile environment, but so do apps. Installed apps will show as an autocomplete in the search box. Furthermore, they can take a mobile result for a search and open it within an app, such as an IMDB result on a phone that has that app installed. This is done in order to enhance the user experience. However, in order for this to work it requires deep links within the app and mapping in the sitemap.

Recently Google just launched their Faulty redirect badging for results they’ve found faulty sites in the results. This is a badge you DO NOT want! This tells the user that the site they are about to click on may have issues with it.

Mobile Acquisition Channels#SMX slide on mobile acquisition channels

Asking for app downloads isn’t the best thing to do right off the bat – this is better for relationship-ready customers!

Improving the app user experience is much like web SEO:

  • Good content or service
  • Enticing search appearance

Optimizing the Mobile Search Pipeline

There are two main bots – both are Googlebot, but one is iPhone specific.

When you develop a mobile website, you want to signal to search engines the relationship you have between the desktop URLs and mobile URLs.

  • RWD
  • Dynamic Serving

Google crawls mobile just like they do desktop. They will crawl a desktop site looking for mobile URLs and then re-crawl using the iPhone crawler.

Mobile URL content is clustered with desktop URL content

  • Indexing signals consolidated
  • Desktop version is primary source of content
  • Desktop title is used

Some signals from desktop page are incorporated into mobile rankings. The user experience is so important. Make sure your mobile version is optimized for task completion. As you do mobile SEO, remember that desktop SEO is still important!

Process For Building a Mobile Strategy#SMX slide on process of mobile expansion

  • Understand your mobile customer
  • Design a mobile strategy
  • Develop intelligent mobile metrics
  • Implement mobile website/native app
  • Iterate and expand to multi-device

Google does have a checklist for mobile website improvement. They also have a UX testing tool in page speed. They just launched 25 principles of mobile site design, and they have info for help changing mobile site configuration within Google Developers. There is an area for app indexing as well.

When Creating an App

  • Use deep links
  • List canonical URLs in sitemap
  • First-click free experience from search results


  • Implement technical SEO best practices
  • Signal desktop/mobile relations
  • Fix redirect issues
  • Mobile first doesn’t mean mobile only
  • Create deep links within native app
  • Focus on user experience
  • Fulfill all 5 stages of the process

Cindy Krum: Mobile Page Speed

Krum breaks down mobile ranking signals — Google says explicitly to use bi-directional annotation, implement redirection to a m. subdomain, to avoid broken content and to have quick page speed. Moreover, Google indicates:

  • no side-to-side scrolling
  • optimized above the fold rendering
    • necessary JS inline
    • necessary CSS inline
  • No flash
  • Efficient CSS selectors
  • Deferred loading of JS

She then  elaborates on these important factors …

Understanding Varies: User-agent

This is an explicit signal that tells Google to send the mobile crawler. If you don’t use this, they may still figure it out, but it will take them longer to find, crawl and index. Make it easy on Google.

Broken Content

Google doesn’t want broken content. This means you shouldn’t have things like flash, popups, hover effects, sideways scrolling, tiny font sizes, tiny buttons, device specific content and slow pages. These things will increase your “mobile bounce rate”.

Page Speed

Why is page speed important? It’s important for mobile because if you have a slow page it can hurt the crawler, meaning they won’t get through all the content and they’ll crawl less content upon their visit. It also hurts the user experience. If it’s bad on mobile over WiFi, it’s worse on 3G. People don’t appreciate slow content on mobile. They have higher expectations of mobile content and don’t cut you any slack for slow sites.

SMS slide on speeding up responsive designResponsive

While in theory, it sounds great for one design to work across all platforms, but the reality isn’t always ideal. It requires additional coding and can cause one version to be bulky and slow it down for one or all devices. The catch 22 is that Google prefers responsive design. However, they also prefer fast page. One isn’t always available with the other.

How do you speed up responsive design? Design for mobile first and remove unnecessary code and minimize your file sizes of all elements on the page. Then, consolidate DNS requests and optimize load order.

Michael Martin: The Mobile Search Result Difference

Mobile Search Expansion goes up every year.

SMX slide on mobile search expansionMobile search is now over 33% of all search in 2014. With 1 out of every 3 searches done on a mobile device, mobile search is becoming more important than ever.

The mobile search result difference – what is the difference in the search results for:

Generic terms – 58% variance in results from desktop to mobile
Localized terms – 73% difference

The evolution of mobile has gone from .mobi to m. to responsive design to dynamic serving.

To address speed and usability, it’s best to start with Google’s pagespeed insights. This gives you a good starting point.

Next, you want to identify keywords for mobile, and you can use Google’s keyword planner for the mobile users.

From the keywords you want to find out the intent using data available such as the stock of products available nearby, the top number of products and services, reviews, videos and interactions with products, click to call and locations.

Year over year, what are the numbers to prove good responsive design results:

  • Mobile SEO traffic can increase with responsive design – 81%
  • Mobile rankings will go up 1
  • Conversions increase 23%

Looking at average mobile results with non SEO year over year:

  • Mobile traffic 75%
  • Mobile rankings increased 1
  • Conversions 17%

Dynamic/adaptive serving results:

  • Mobile traffic 167%
  • Mobile rankings +3
  • Conversions 82%

Dynamic is beating the average of responsive design or not doing anything at all. Dynamic design is the way to go for the best results.

Advanced Actionable Insights:

  • Rwd for scale & dynamic for hub pages
  • Dynamic/adaptive should be used if motile intent is sig. different than desktop
  • Mobile seo can be applied to dynamice serving

Jim Yu: Common Mobile Search Errors

Mobile is outpacing desktop by 10x, and smartphone share is roughly 23% for search traffic. The anking factors are quite different for mobile vs desktop search. In fact, 62% of keywords have different ranks on the two platforms.

There are different approaches to implementing a mobile site, which were already talked about. Responsive, dynamic and a separate site. Brightedge found minimal performance differences across the types of environments. So they dug deeper and found that most of the errors appeared for those with separate mobile websites. Seventy-two percent of the implements of a separate site were done with errors, while only 30 percent of the dynamic sites had errors.

What happens when you have incorrect implementation? Brightedge found a two position difference meaning a 68% lost smartphone opportunity for traffic.

What really matters to your mobile seo approach?

1. Mis-implementation – smartphone is only becoming more important
2. Ongoing maintenance – you’ve configured everything correctly bu with each website release, the configuration needs to be checked again.

smx slide on mobile search approach pros and consThere are pros and cons to each type of implementation you need to consider when developing your mobile environment.


• Smartphone share of voice is 23% and growing by 50% year
• Mobile is outpacing desktop 10X
• 62% of keywords have different rank
• Ranking variables are becoming more complex
• There is a slight difference in rank via mobile
• Incorrect implementations can dramatically impact results

Once a hard working corporate type, Jayme traded in her office and business attire for cowboy boots and the Sierra Nevada mountains. At one time Jayme was the director of SEO for Bruce Clay Inc., then senior SEO analyst for WebMetro. She now spends her time out in the country. As a busy mom, soccer coach, weekly volleyball player, weekend hiker and hobbyist photographer she does manage to find a few hours a week to stay connected to the Internet Marketing world plus she is still doing SEO on a handful of clients. You won't find her active on Twitter or her own blog, because when she does have spare time she's usually away from her computer enjoying what life has to offer, away from the computer monitor. In fact her own website is sinfully neglected. Even though she has grand plans to one day put some energy into her own blog that day still hasn't arrived, possibly after her kids are both in school.

See Jayme's author page for links to connect on social media.

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2 Replies to “SMX Liveblog: What Advanced SEOs Should Be Doing about Mobile SEO”

Hi, Jayme,
I have an easy implementation for our first mobile platform using SLI Systems. They do serach and mobile for clients. They’re prefence is M. as opposed to responsive or Dynamic (whatever that is). Can I have as good a SEO result if I use M.? If so what do I need to do to make it work. If not, why not?
Lee Krumbein
(we have a new redesigned site launching next week)

Lee, great question. Hopefully I can help shed some light on this for you.

1st, let’s take a step back and look at the mobile design types.
Responsive – this is the design preferred by Google but there seems to be an overwhelming agreement among everyone else that this isn’t the best option for mobile sites. The code is often bloated and page speed runs a bit slower. The URLs and HTML of a responsive site stay the same and only the display changes (using CSS) depending on the device used. Maintenance on a responsive site is often easier.
Dynamic – this is a case where there is separate HTML & CSS files for the type of device – PC vs mobile, yet your URLs will appear the same. This is slightly harder to maintain and there can be hiccups with user agent detection. However, since there is separate HTML for mobile vs PC, you’re able to optimize each page for that audience.
Separate Site (m.) – this is a completely different site from your regular domain but is built solely for mobile devices. The site will have its own set of URLs, its own HTML and you can optimize the site for a different set of keywords targeted to just mobile users. In order to help the search engines understand the relationship, you’d utilize the rel=alternate and rel=canonical tags (bidirectional annotations). One of the major items to be aware of here is making sure redirects (for sending PC users to the main site) are set up correctly and that your rel tags are implemented properly in order to have the right “juice” flowing to the right places.

I don’t personally have a preference but if I had to pick, it would probably be either a separate domain or dynamic because 1) you’re able to optimize your HTML specifically for mobile users and 2) you have more control over the page speed. These are the two most important things you want to control. So the fact that your provider prefers the m. over the other two types of design can be a good thing for your site. Take the time to research what your mobile users are looking for, searching for and trying to accomplish so that your mobile site fits those needs and is optimized towards those keywords. Make sure the “bidirectional annotations” are in place for proper spidering and relationship understanding by the search engines. Optimize your page speed for fast loading on mobile devices as well. If you’re able to accomplish all that, you should soon be seeing a nice ROI on your investment on a mobile site.

Good luck to you Lee.


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