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Thread: Query about Google mobile results

  1. #1
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    Default Query about Google mobile results

    As you know, by default when you do a mobile search on Google, Google will return back a mixture of results from both the web and mobile indices. I know that users can force mobile results only but let’s just work with the default results for now. When I realised this, I thought that Google would give mobile results preference over the web results but from the number of tests that I have done this is not necessarily the case.

    Based on this, let’s say that a company named ABC Widgets (www.abcwidgets.com) decided they wanted to optimise a specific page for a specific phrase, being “Worlds Best Widgets”, (www.abcwidgets.com/worlds-best-widgets.html) for both web and mobile results. For this sake of this example, let’s further assume that this company were not able to implement “on the fly” transcoding due to the vast differences between the two versions of the page and so they effectively had two distinct pages with similar information, one for the web and one for mobile.

    My understanding is that they would have two main options here. The first option would be to create a mobile sub domain, for erg. m.abcwidgets.com, host all their mobile pages on this sub domain and submit the sitemap for this sub domain to the mobile index, whilst their web version gets submitted to the web index. The second option would be to create a sub folder within the current site and place the mobile version of that page under this sub-folder. So the mobile version would be www.abcwidgets.com/mobile/worlds-best-widgets.html. They then submit all files or subfolders within the /mobile folder to the mobile index and exclude that folder from the web sitemap.

    Before I continue with the second part of the scenario, my first question here would be; In your opinion are either of these options more favourable than the other from an SEO perspective? From what I can determine, the sub folder option may be preferable since you are building on the authority of the domain instead of diluting your seo efforts across two domains. However, I’m very new at this so I this may well be incorrect

    Assuming ABC Widgets went with option two, there is no guarantee that Google will present to the potential consumer the correct version of the page when the user does a mobile search. The ranking on the web version of the page may very well outrank the mobile version and so the web version appears in the organic results page first. Now, when a potential customer clicks using Google mobile clicks on the web result, by default, the Google transcoding engine will transcode the page for the user and potentially mangle the page completely, whilst ignoring the mobile version of the page the company put so much effort into producing.

    The solution I see here is to get the company to introduce a user agent or OS detection script which detects that the user is using a mobile phone and re-directs them to the mobile version of the page instead of the web version. However for this to work the company would need to request from Google that they do not attempt to transcode for this domain and rather leave the re-direction up to them.

    What do others think?

  2. #2
    Mobility Regular
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    Welcome to this forum mfarah01. It’s good to have people with questions like this onboard. Your query is very interesting and complex. I will try and help you answer some of it with the bits and peaces of information that I have found along the way. Mobile SEO or MSEO has been one my personal favorite topics for the past months.

    MSEO Perspective

    In my opinion there are two advantages of the subfolder version.

    The first point is the one you already mentioned about the authority of the domain being passed on to the subfolder. I’ve read this a couple of times at different resources.

    The second reason why I think this is the better version are the number of keywords in the domain.
    www . abc widgets .com / mobile / worlds-best-widgets .html

    What I’ve read is that keywords in the mobile index are as important as they used to be at the beginning of the wired web. Today in the wired web the search engines use many other factors to rate a website other than keywords.


    Marketing Perspective

    From a marketing perspective using the subfolder link is not a good idea, it’s too long to remember and it wouldn’t look good on a business card, a poster or anywhere else. So you could use the m.abcwidgets.com version or you might as well use abcwidgets.mobi and redirect it to the subfolder. This way you’ll have the best of both worlds IMO. If I’m not wrong the subfolder link will appear in the search engine with all the keywords. With the dotmobi version you’ll also have an entry in the dotmobi zone file which you wouldn’t have with either of the other versions. Below is the explanation why this is important:

    Building a dotMobi site means that your URL will automatically feature on the 'zone files' that we maintain for ICANN (the meta-Internet registry organization), and which are regularly requested by mobile search engines, directories and other sites and services as 'seed lists' for the indexing of mobile-centric web sites (in much the same way as they use DMOZ). In other words, the use of a dotMobi domain will automate the beginnings of your search engine and web directory submission process – in fact each month these log files are requested by around 5,000 interested parties.
    http://mobithinking.com/blog/why-a-d...akes-sense-seo
    Organic Results - Outranking

    Assuming ABC Widgets went with option two, there is no guarantee that Google will present to the potential consumer the correct version of the page when the user does a mobile search. The ranking on the web version of the page may very well outrank the mobile version and so the web version appears in the organic results page first. Now, when a potential customer clicks using Google mobile clicks on the web result, by default, the Google transcoding engine will transcode the page for the user and potentially mangle the page completely, whilst ignoring the mobile version of the page the company put so much effort into producing.

    The solution I see here is to get the company to introduce a user agent or OS detection script which detects that the user is using a mobile phone and re-directs them to the mobile version of the page instead of the web version. However for this to work the company would need to request from Google that they do not attempt to transcode for this domain and rather leave the re-direction up to them.
    This is a very interesting assumption and I think it’s correct, but maybe Google doesn’t transcode the web version in it’s organic results once there is OS detection? If this is true then there would be no problem with the transcoded web version outranking the mobile version IMO.


    In the Future

    Google and others are using this hybrid (mixture of results) method as default instead of mobile results only, because there is not enough content in the mobile index. Once there is enough the mobile index will become the default. With this knowledge it would be more important for me to have my website ranking at the top of the mobile index, even though it is not an advantage yet. This would be different for a business website which should try to get ranked as quickly as possible at the top of both results.
    Last edited by freeflow; 08-29-2009 at 10:52 PM.

  3. #3
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    Hi FreeFlow

    Apologies for my delayed reponse and thank you for your comprehensive reply. It will be interesting to see whether Google picks up on my re-direction and therefore does not transcode automatically. I will post back here when this project goes live to let you know.

    Regards
    Michael

  4. #4
    Mobility Regular *james*'s Avatar
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    There's a third model - you keep people on the single URL but just serve up a mobile version/ style sheet - that's the best from an SEO perspective.

    The guys at mobify have written quite a bit about this

    http://blog.mobify.me/2009/07/14/pros-and-cons-of-mobile-seo/

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