Mobile SEO – what is Google’s official stance?


Technical SEO

Researchers tell us that mobile search has increased by 500% in the last 2 years – Google’s recent ‘Go Mo’ platform which encourages marketers to invest in a mobile version of their existing desktop website, highlights the overriding importance of how technology has rapidly changed over the last 4-5 years, since the introduction of the handheld Smartphone.

Google currently boasts 90% share of the desktop search environment, and their share of the mobile search market is not too far behind.

SEO for Mobile Search

With this in mind, Google has announced the following best practice guidelines as to the visibility of websites in the mobile search environment;

Mobile/Desktop Website Redirects

Earlier this year, head of Web Spam at Google, Matt Cutts answered a question relating to redirecting desktop content to similar content displayed on a mobile site. His response was to reiterate that content which is identical across a desktop and mobile site, is not seen as duplicate content, unless the content is not redirected in the correct manner. Google themselves highlight that ‘you can redirect them to the corresponding mobile version of the same page’ and that, ‘Google notices the standard versions of the URL’.

Google uses a separate spider and indexing structure when crawling the mobile environment – known as ‘Googlebot-mobile’. When redirecting a mobile user from a desktop webpage with identical content to the mobile version, Google will understand that one has been designed for desktop, and the other for mobiles. “It’s fine if the content for Googlebot is different from that for Googlebot-Mobile”.

Mobile Search Visibility

Google states that if your website is not visible in the Google mobile search results, your site may have an issue with indexing:

Googlebot must crawl your mobile site before it’s included within the search index. Just like in desktop SEO, a sitemap must be created containing all URL’s within the website. To inform Google of the site’s existence, this must be submitted via Google Webmaster Tools.

Mobile URL’s

When Googlebot-mobile crawls your website, it will check that all URL’s are viewable on a mobile device. Although the website’s URL’s may be indexed within the standard desktop web search, they may not be viewable in mobile search. To ensure that your mobile site is suitable for Google mobile search, the Doc Type Definition of the website must be developed to the recommended format; “We support XHTML basic, XHTML Mobile Profile, WML, and cHTML” Also see Google Mobile Guidelines for more information.

Searching via Your Smartphone