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Why a mobile site matters in the SEO world.

If you are like most individuals, you have more then one way to connect to the internet. With the increase in types of devices that have internet, it is becoming a ubiquitous force in our daily lives. Between desktops, tablets, and smart phones, most people are able to quickly access the information that they need where ever they are. The problem is that most websites are not built for every device.

Granted that what I do for a living is in the tech field but in looking around my little office, I am able to quickly look up a product’s website on a variety of the latest devices. From the tablets, the laptops, the desktops, and the phones, I spend a large part of my day searching the internet. More often then not though, when I am away from the office and acting as a regular consumer, I search on my smart phone because it’s one item I always have with me. And I am not alone in this fact, as the mobile internet usage has increased dramatically over the past five years and it is continuing to grow. Data plans are getting cheaper and mobile visitors are becoming crucial to a company’s success.

The problem is, most websites are not made for the mobile searcher and too many businesses think of it as a ‘extra’ when looking at their SEO strategy game plan. With 2/3 of all internet users making purchases online and 30% of smart phone users purchasing from their phones, online sales are drastically increasing at a rapid rate but many clients do not see the necessity of creating a unique experience for the mobile user.

As the world becomes more web friendly, some individuals have been reluctant to change with it. Common complaints that I have heard from marketers relaying what their clients have said is that it takes too long for the content to load on a mobile or that they don’t have any products that could communicate well to be purchased on a mobile format. Essentially, what a company needs moving forward in the marketing world is to analyze and understand what their customer’s web experience can be.

There are two options once a client understands that they need to have a mobile friendly site: use the current website or have a separate website with a separate URL. Before getting into the responsiveness and the look of the mobile site, it’s important that you think about what the goals are for both you and for the customer. When the customer gets onto the website, what are the things that they will be looking for? Are they immediately looking for a specific product or are they searching for more then one option? What is the company’s goals in having a website? Is it to give information about the company and physical location or is it to shop off of the site or entice the customers into going into the physical store? While the business goals and company goals should be figured internally, use your web analytics to see what you mobile customers are looking for.

If the customers and the company are looking for the same thing in the mobile website that they are in the primary website, then the mobile site needs to match content with the primary unless there are other goals that are needing to be met. Modifying the website slightly, however, can help SEOs gain better grounding on what the customers are looking for. Targeting different search inquires and browsing behaviors can help create an independent side campaign.

After the content has been established, now it’s time to start thinking about how to make that content come to life. Becoming a positive trend in the SEO marketing world, a responsive website that has identical or nearly identical can help gain customers. There are many positives to having a responsive website:

• If there is only one version of content and the mobile version is obviously going to be showing up on a tiny screen, it helps narrow the content for a better design
• After building a responsive template for both the primary and the mobile, you don’t have to update the websites separately
• Links pointing the the mobile site on the primary site will encourage more interaction with customers even though it is new
• Having a responsive site means that it will amaze the visitors as they look at it in different browsers

Though there are so many positives to having a mobile friendly site, many clients will look at it as a time or an added expense. To save both time and money, there can be a separate mobile site built while rolling out the responsive site. This adds several benefits for the clients as they can test what is working on the site and get the feedback as to what is necessary for both sites.

If creating a separate site for the mobile visitors, use the same URLs but have the servers deliver the separate mobile site for the mobile users (using dynamic serving). This way while the responsive site is being created, you won’t have to deal with having broken URLs.

A common complaint that clients state is that they feel that their content will take too long to load on a mobile site. There are a few different ways that this can be addressed:

• Complicate Javascript/CSS can be modified and simplified without giving up functionality
• Images can easily be served dynamically so that mobile users get low-resolution pictures while desktop users get the high-resolution images
• Text does not take long to load and research shows that mobile users are more patient when loading text versus a desktop user as they are likely doing other things such as waiting in line or sitting on a bus
• Flash just shouldn’t be used as it’s extremely outdated as there are better options available now

If it has been decided that a separate site needs to be created for the mobile users and it will feature unique content, it can be very liberating to design and implement. The main site would not have to be redesigned at all this way and initial build-up will be easier. Here are a few other pros to having a separate mobile site:

• The site can be completely different, targeting the needs of the mobile using customer
• It can be tweaked to the mobile users search inquires and results
• With the main site not needing to be redesigned, there will be flexibility in creating the mobile site. If something works on the mobile site, it can easily be brought into the primary website.

Getting clients to understand the multiple positives to creating a unique web experience for the mobile user can be a bit of a challenge. With increasing numbers of web traffic coming from mobile users, designing and thinking of the mobile customer has never been more important. Once clients understand the benefits, they will definitely see the large new amount of traffic to their website as worth it.