Thank you, Chris. It’s a pleasure to be here at SES NY. Patrick did a great job talking about the many ways that you make your site relevant to a new generation. I’m going to focus on one thing, as it’s a bit complicated. Site architecture for multiscreen and mobile users.
Any of you remember the 1990s? Back then things were much simpler in terms of site architecture. Most of what Patrick mentioned wasn’t even close to becoming a concern for most webmasters. The web was relatively new and most of us were just trying to make our sites work, let alone optimized. And when it came to user targeting, the only place anyone could access the Internet was from a desk.
Today you have to build sites that work for people regardless of where they’re accessing them from. And that’s no longer just a desk. You might have this guy outside, or these ladies on the couch, or these teens, or this lady on the bus, or even these seniors. And of course this lady on a laptop. And just to complicate things we’ll mention this guy who thinks the ipad is lunch, and the future of web access, when all of our sites are overlaid on top of whatever’s in front of us at the time a la this guy.
But multiscreen access isn’t the future of the web. It’s here. According to a recent study by Google…
So 38% our our media consumption in the US is on smartphones, but how much comes from search? In December Rimm Kaufman Group has projected that the number on average today is 25% of all searches. Which is quite a jump when you consider that two years ago the average number was about 14% of all searches.
This is because more people are accessing the web away from their desk than ever, with Statcounter saying that usage has actually doubled every year.
In emerging markets like India this has led to more people accessing the internet through mobile devices than from desktops and laptops, and this trend is predicted to recur across regions and in search sooner than later.
As Scott Huffman, the head of the search evaluation team at Google who leads mobile search said two years ago…
If that was two years ago you might think that the lines should be crossing soon if they haven’t already. Sure enough, Kelsey Group predicts that mobile search will be bigger than desktop search in the US
First, the three options Google supports…You may have also heard of RESS, which is responsive web design with server side components. This is essentially synonymous with dynamic serving.
This is a flowchart that is often presented by Aleyda Solis when it comes to prioritizing these options. It’s really a good visualization of how the SEO community perceives the priority of these three options. While I like Aleyda and think she often presents good information about mobile SEO, this chart could be dangerous when it comes to optimizing your site, as responsive design could make your website less visible in search.
But wait, you may be saying, didn’t Google recommend responsive web design? Yes, they did at SMX Advanced last year on the mobile SEO panel with Pierre Far of Google, Cindy Krum and myself. However…
So most people read that Google recommends responsive web design and ignored the second part of the recommendation entirely. Namely that they don’t support it if it doesn’t provide a good user experience, and that they support other options as well.
You can see here that the One URL benefit of responsive web design is not addressed by Google, as they support dynamic serving and dedicated mobile URLs equally.
What Google is saying with this support is that you have the power as the webmaster to decide what’s best for your users, and Google will support it on their end.
So when is responsive web design not good for your users? Google didn’t say, but there are five questions you need to ask yourself when choosing between the mobile configuration options.
First, are mobile users well served by your current information architecture? Sometimes mobile and desktop users are looking for similar things, and sometimes they’re not. Likewise, there can be indexing issues with desktop sites that will exist on the responsive site too if it’s not completely redesigned. For example, when I examined Starbucks responsive site recently I found that there were several categories that searchers are looking for online that aren’t prioritized or sometimes aren’t included on their responsive site.
But these types of pages on the current site can’t be indexed because of hashbangs in URLs. The responsive site, unless it’s completely redesigned, will have these same issues. Dedicated mobile sites might also have these same issues, but because they don’t share URLs, it’s possible to avoid it when you build the site.
When I looked at Microsoft’s responsive site it was clear that some of the content was platform-specific even though it was presented as responsive…
Likewise, if you’re one of the people who has done one of the 8500 searches per month for Starbucks coupons, you’ll get something that looks like this with Starbucks current site…
Another question you have to ask is whether mobile users use the same keywords. Google says to use the keywords that people are using on your site, but adaptive content doesn’t allow for that since all the content has to be the same regardless of device. And sometimes keywords, like the keyword nearby, are used almost exclusively on mobile devices. In this case we can see that Disney is missing out on a lot of mobile games related keywords by making their site responsive.
When we looked at the mobile % of total keyword volume per industry, we see this is applicable not just for a few sites, but for industries…
This is especially relevant to local businesses, as many of these new searches are based on context. For example, Starbucks…
Responsive sites by nature have the same content as the desktop site. This is good beause you’re providing all content regardless of platform, but it also doesn’t allow you to build experiences that take advantage of mobile-specific features such as scanner, GPS, accelerometer and camera. As Mike will describe, HTML5, though not perfect, can access all of these things, allowing you to build native app-like experiences on the Web. This can get you traffic by providing features you simply can’t provide on your desktop site. For example, Google Now won Popular Science’s Innovation of the year and is a way for Google to differentiate Android from iOS. It is an app because Google doesn’t want it to be available to other platforms, but great mobile experiences can be built as webapps as part of the mobile site to improve the user experience.
Google is not vague about this one. If you want your site to be accessible to feature phone users, don’t make it responsive. What that means, essentially, is that if you want your site to be accessible to the 48% of users in the US who don’t have a smart phone, or to any of these countries in red, don’t make it responsive.
Google says that mobile searchers are more fickle than desktop searchers, as they’re five times more likely than desktop searchers to abandon the task and never visit a site. If you want mobile searchers to find your site, you have to worry about performance, and responsive sites are usually slower to load than dedicated mobile sites.
It’s not that all responsive sites are slow, as you can build a fast responsive site, but it’s harder to make a responsive site fast, so you have to find someone who can do it well. According to Guy Podjarny, Akamai’s chief product architect…
So those are the five things you need to look out for before you start a responsive web design project. It could be that responsive is right for your users, and for search engines, but it’s not a foregone conclusion.
Follow Google’s guidelines whichever option you choose. This is an example of
Follow Google’s guidelines whichever option you choose. This is an example of
This used to be a best practice in 2005 before canonical tags and switchboard tags existed. The thought was that Google would get confused so you shouldn’t leave distribution of link equity to them. This is not necessary now that redirects and switchboard tags can tell the engines what content to appear when.
Thanks. I hope this was interesting and educational. If you have any questions, you can contact me here, and I look forward to more discussion at the end of the presentations. Thanks!
1. Site Architecture for Multiscreen UsersNext-Generation Site ArchitectureBryson MeunierResolution MediaDirector, SEO StrategyNew York | March 25–28 #SESNY
2. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYSite Architecture in the 1990s @brysonmeunier
3. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYSite Architecture Today @brysonmeunier
4. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYMultiscreen user is here. Source: http://www.google.com/think/research-studies/the-new-multi-screen-world-study.html
5. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYRKG: 1 in 4 Google searches is mobile @brysonmeunier
6. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYMobile Internet Usage Doubling Every Year @brysonmeunier
7. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYGoogle: Mobile = 40% of Searches in India (2011) @brysonmeunier 7
8. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYGoogle: Mobile Search will be bigger than Desktop• “Mobile search is definitely going to surpass desktop search. The lines will pass, and I think they’ll pass before anyone thought they would.”– Scott B. Huffman, Google Engineering Director who leads the search evaluation team and works on mobile search Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/technology/25mobile.html @brysonmeunier
9. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYKelsey Group: Mobile Search will be bigger than Desktop in 2015 Source: http://www.biakelsey.com/company/press-releases/120418-Mobile-Local-Search-Volume-Will-Surpass-Desktop-Local-Search-in-2015.asp @brysonmeunier
10. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNY3 Options for Mobile configuration (Per Google) Responsive web design: Same HTML & URLs, different layout Dynamic serving: Same URLs, potentially different HTML through device detection Dedicated mobile sites: Different URLs, Different HTML @brysonmeunier
11. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYPopular wisdom about mobile configurations Source: http://www.stateofsearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/mobile-seo-site-architecture-flowchart.jpg @brysonmeunier 1
12. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYDoesn’t Google prefer Responsive Web Design? @brysonmeunier 1
13. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYYes, if it’s the right solution for the user• “Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.”• “If responsive design is not the best option to serve your users, Google supports serving your content using different HTML. The different HTML can be on the same URL (a setup called dynamic serving) or on different URLs, and Googlebot can handle both setups appropriately if you follow our setup recommendations.” Full details at @brysonmeunier
14. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYGoogle On Mobile URLs and Dynamic Serving “Googlebot can handle both setups appropriately if you follow our setup recommendations.” @brysonmeunier
15. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYGoogle On Mobile URLs and Dynamic Serving @brysonmeunier
16. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYIs responsive web design best for your users? @brysonmeunier
17. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNY1. Mobile users well-served by current IA? @brysonmeunier
18. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNY1. Mobile users well-served by current IA? @brysonmeunier
19. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNY1. Mobile users well-served by current IA? @brysonmeunier
20. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNY1. Mobile users well-served by current IA? @brysonmeunier
21. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNY2. Mobile users use same keywords as desktop? @brysonmeunier
22. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNY2. Mobile users use same keywords as desktop? @brysonmeunier
23. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNY2. Mobile users use same keywords as desktop? @brysonmeunier
24. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNY3. Mobile-only features won’t help users? @brysonmeunier
25. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNY3. Mobile-only features won’t help users? @brysonmeunier
26. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNY4. Audience uses smartphones?=158 million visitors and 98 billion pageviews from featurephone users in Opera alone in December 2012 Source: http://business.opera.com/smw/2012/12/ @brysonmeunier
27. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNY5. Speed not important to conversions? @brysonmeunier
28. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNY5. Speed not important to conversions? “You can’t escape this fact. A responsive website tuned to perform the best it can would not be as fast as a dedicated mdot site tuned equally well. Or more realistically, an average responsive website would always be slower than an average mdot site.” Guy Podjarny, Akamai Chief Product Architect Source: http://www.guypo.com/technical/responsive-web-design-is-bad-for-performance-there-i-said-it/ Source: http://www.guypo.com/technical/responsive-web-design-is-bad-for-performance-there- i-said-it/ @brysonmeunier
29. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYResponsive is No Silver Bullet for SEO Success @brysonmeunier
31. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYUse Switchboard tags with Mobile URLs Image Source: Sherwood Stranieri For 25 more visit @brysonmeunier 3
32. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYUse Vary HTTP Header with Dynamic Serving For information on Akamai issues visit @brysonmeunier 3
33. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYDo Not Block GooglebotMobile or Otherwise! For 25 more visit @brysonmeunier 3
34. New York| March 25–28, 2013 | #SESNYThank you!Bryson MeunierDirector, SEO StrategyResolution Mediabmeunier@resolutionmedia.comhttp://www.brysonmeunier.com Scan to visit m.brysonmeunier.comhttp://www.resolutionmedia.com@brysonmeunier+Bryson Meunier @brysonmeunier