Mobile SEO & influences of smartphone search results
The mobile world is seeing a lot of growth in 2013 in every aspect possible. More and more iPhone and Android phones are being activated, blackberry finally got it's act together and Windows Mobile should be considered a serious player. iPads and tablets are also on the rise while desktops are starting to see a decline. There are more apps being developed and most importantly, more websites are starting to become mobile friendly through responsive design. That said there are still too many sites that are not ready for the future, but that future being now. Their sites are not optimized for mobile phones and at the time of writing this article, Gaffg hasn't been optimized for mobile phones. This simply leads to a higher bounce rate and basically becomes almost a waste of traffic. Our new site design will feature a mobile friendly version and we are doing this first for a conversion reason. On the Google Webmaster Central blog they discussed how some sites are creating problems for their mobile users. The main complaint with users is when they get directed to a mobile version of the site. The 2 main common problems are users looking for a specific page then being forced to the mobile home version of the website, meaning they don't get what they were looking for and secondly they get error pages. This of course leads to users not being happy with the results and bouncing. In their blogpost they implied that they would be doing something about this and most likely they might filter results of websites that don't look after the user. You can read more about the article here: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2013/06/changes-in-rankings-of-smartphone_11.html Well that is one set of issues but if your site is not optimized for mobile, will this hurt your SEO efforts?
Here is my opinion on the issue.Making your website mobile friendly by using responsive design is the best way to go. You don't redirect your users to another location and you keep all the information in one location where people can reference it and always find it. Of course sharing it becomes easier this way too. If your website is not optimized for mobile users then this will indirectly affect your rankings and SEO efforts. Most webmasters are seeing more mobile traffic appear on their websites and if your site isn't mobile optimized, you typically have a higher bounce rate on the mobile version than on the desktop version. As long as bounce rate is considered to be a factor that effects your rankings, then this is important. That is websites that are essentially unreadable in mobile phones will incur a higher bounce rate and that will eventually affect their rankings in a negative way. I think it is easy for robots to detect if a website is mobile friendly and in theory this would be an easy algorithm for google to implement, if a user is searching on their phone, I see no reason why they wouldn't consider filtering out websites that just are going to naturally lead to a bounce.
A short excerpt from Google's blog"Smartphone users are a significant and fast growing segment of Internet users, and at Google we want them to experience the full richness of the web. As part of our efforts to improve the mobile web, we published our recommendations and the most common configuration mistakes." Last but not least, the final reason why you need to pay attention to having a mobile friendly version of the website is for conversions. And once again the discussion of conversion seems to come full circle back to seo. If you can't convert your users then more search traffic won't mean anything and likewise, why would search engines want to send you more search traffic if your website bounces more than 50% of it.