With smart phones becoming more and more popular, and the technology allowing better and better search experiences on mobile, you might be asking yourself – Should I optimise my website for mobile? If you look at your website statistics, you will probably see at least some small proportion of visitors coming from mobile, and if you look at the trend of them over the last 12 months, I would guess that the volumes are quickly increasing.
(FYI You can see these results under the visitors section of your Google Analytics account, as Mobile.)
So, the answer would be yes, but only if the question is “should I optimise for mobile”, not “should I optimise for mobile search”. At the moment, and likely into the future, unless your website is so complicated and unusable for mobile interfaces that Google penalises it in mobile search, you shouldn’t need to do different SEO for your main and mobile sites.
For most terms I search on today, results are almost identical for both mobile and desktop. The main surprise for me was that for local terms, Google was showing the places pages (with the map) up the top on desktop, but halfway down the page on mobile. I would have thought that the local map results would be more useful, and therefore more prominent, in local search.
If you want to test out your results in mobile vs desktop, you can do it quickly and easily using www.google.com/m for mobile, which gives you the scaled down version of the search results, rendered for mobile devices.
Having said that you don’t need to do special SEO for your mobile website, (as long as you are doing all you can in normal SEO) you do need to optimise your sites for mobile experience and usability. While many smartphones, like the iPhone, can render most website designs on their screen, this will not always be a nice experience for the user. Navigation, buttons and images should be adjusted for mobile, to make it both easier to read and easier to get to the information that is important for mobile users.
Things like click to call numbers, and interactive maps can be used to optimise your mobile website version. However, from anecdotal experience it is good not to have the site too different from your desktop, so as not to confuse or put off people who will later come to your site on a desktop version – you want them to be comfortable on your site, and be able to easily find what they came back for. Like all usability, make it easier for them to do what you want them to do.