International Mobile SEO
 – #isslondon

International Mobile SEO
 – #isslondon

14th May 2013

With much of the world now accessing the web through mobile devices, there is no doubt that failure to optimise for mobile will damage your global web performance. This session will highlight the key factors in optimising international websites for mobile.

Alyeda started by stressing the importance of mobile in the SEO mix. She finds she is working more and more with major brands that want to focus on acquiring more traffic from mobile.

It’s clear that we live in a multi-device world which is really booming. She shared her mobile toolkit yesterday which is available here which shows how hot mobile is world-wide.

You may be thinking that you work with a major brand and have mobile covered but she shared some common failings:

  • EBay – mobile SEO categories are poorly titled and tags and have non-relevant title redirects between the mobile and desktop URLs.
  • Flickr – non optimised titles in mobile and no redirects between the mobile and desktop versions.
  • H&M – intrusive interstitials when you access the mobile site that try and force you to download their app. It’s not user friendly.
  • Next – big brand with no mobile optimised site

Even if you work with large brands in global markets you can’t assume that you have it covered.

Steps to fix it

Step one

First step to fix it is analyse your audience using the typical tools, Google analytics has mobile segments so compare that to the desktop data. Segment for country to check mobile segments per country too.

Check your keywords and landing pages per country and language. In IOS search traffic is being picked up as direct traffic so that is an issue you should be aware of from a mobile perspective.

Go to webmaster tools and check your current mobile site search visibility. Identify why the users aren’t clicking and develop strategies to rectify this.

Go to Google keyword tool for mobile devices for your search market. This will give you an idea of how much market share you have and what the biggest opportunities are.

Step two

Identify your status. Use mobile emulators and user agent switchers to work out what sites are outranking you and why. Respond to those issues and win. The audit issues are the same but you need to check from a mobile emulator to ensure you get into the mobile frame of mind. You can also use ScreamingFrog user agent smartphone crawler for Google to see what the mobile bot sees.

Step three

Mobilize your international SEO. Use the information from the previous mobile analysis to identify complexity. The best case scenario is responsive design but this may not be 100% achievable. Dynamic serving is the next best scenario with a parallel mobile website being the least attractive option from an SEO point of view.

Optimise your mobile site speed and use the page speed tool to analyse it. Reorganise and design your content for mobile devices. Again responsive is the best case scenario for design. Optimise your pages content elements with your keywords. Use structured mark-up and optimise for Google local.

Responsive Design Pros and Cons


  • No risk of content duplication
  • Easier to maintain
  • Popularity consolidation
  • No need for redirects


  • Possible redesign needed
  • No possibility of content differentiation
  • Less optimisation of Mobile UX

In order to implement it you need to allow the engines to crawl your CSS, images and JS. uses responsive very well.

Dynamic Serving


  • No risk of content duplication
  • Capacity to differentiate mobile content
  • Popularity consolidation
  • Better mobile UX


  • Complexity of technical implementation
  • Higher cost of maintenance

You need to help Google identify your serving content depending on the user agent but be aware some CDNs don’t support it. Also be aware of cloaking; always serve the same content to crawlers and users. uses this approach very well.

Parallel Mobile Website

This is the least favourite option from an SEO point of view. You build up a consistent parallel mobile website to ensure the redirects are consistent.


  • Easier implementation
  • Capacity to differentiate
  • Better UX


  • Content duplication risk
  • Link popularity split risk
  • Additional crawling effort for Google

It’s the best approach if you can’t implement responsive or dynamic serving. You need to implement rel=alternate and canonical annotations in pages.


Written By
Louis Venter is the founding director and CEO of MediaVision, a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) company specialising in all areas of search. His particular interests are organic search marketing, paid search marketing, conversion strategy and online PR.
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