I KNOW PRETTY MUCH NOTHING ABOUT MOBILE WEBSITES LET ALONE MOBILE DUPLICATE CONTENT!
OK, so now that I’ve said it, I’ve decided that I need to do something about it. After all, there are over 1,000,000,000 cell phone users in the world and more and more of them are switching to smart phones. It’s a fact that the world is getting more connected via mobile phones and one doesn’t want to get Google slapped because they have duplicate content on their mobile phone site, right?
But since I’m no expert on mobile duplicate content, I did a little digging to come up with this gem by Bryson Meunier. By the time you are done reading his article, you will be well on your way to creating a great mobile site that won’t have a negative affect on your main site’s SERP rankings.
7 Real Mobile Duplicate Content SEO Issues
Ask someone who’s new to mobile SEO about it and they’re almost sure to tell you that mobile sites are duplicate content. The fear is that having the same content on two URLs will do the same thing it does in traditional SEO and split link equity and social shares, making it more difficult for either page to rank.
In reality, with Google’s Old Possum/Skip Redirect update in December, user agent redirection is all that’s necessary for mobile sites to rank ahead of desktop sites in smartphone search, even if it’s the same content formatted differently.
With canonical tags back to the desktop site for duplicate mobile pages, both mobile and desktop pages will be able to rank for competitive terms. As I’ve said often in this column, and as Google has said elsewhere, it’s a different paradigm in mobile search, and mobile sites are not, by definition, duplicate content.
However, there are duplicate content issues in mobile SEO that don’t exist in traditional or desktop SEO. These issues will split link equity within a mobile site.
Though this will likely not be a problem for mobile duplicates that are properly redirected, these issues could make it more difficult for your unique mobile URLs to rank, and could result in less link equity being passed to your desktop pages from your duplicate mobile URLs.
If your mobile site exhibits any of these seven common characteristics, you could have canonicalization issues that make your desktop and unique mobile content less competitive in search.
1. App Interstitials
Many sites promote their mobile app when searchers try to access mobile Web content, taking them to a page created for users of their platform before taking them to the home page.
For example, Open Table takes Android users to an Android page and iPhone users to an iPhone page, and both of these pages are indexed in Google.
Does your mobile site have one of these? You could be splitting link equity.
Like Flash intro splash pages in the early days of this century, there’s a possibility( however remote) that users will link to and share the platform-specific URLs rather than the home page. This can split link equity of one of your strongest pages, making it less competitive in search.
Some companies get around this issue by promoting the app within the page rather than taking the searcher to a separate URL. Others get around it by making a mobile Web user experience that’s good enough to stand on its own. If you must promote your mobile app on your mobile website, it’s best not to have separate URLs per platform.
2. Carrier Pages
Years ago on Google’s mobile webmaster guidelines, they warned about creating duplicate pages for each carrier. And though that warning is no longer on their mobile guidelines, many companies are still creating deck-specific content that could dilute link equity.
NBC.com page for T-mobile’s t-zones is a duplicate of another recap page except for two words: t-zones Home
Both of these pages are indexed in Google with their own link equity.
If you must create carrier pages, use the canonical tag; or if the page is parameter-based, use Google parameter handling to let Google know they’re duplicates.
3. Indexed Legacy Transcoder Duplicates
In the initial rush to go mobile, many companies used solutions like Usablenet as a stopgap solution to allow them to provide some sort of mobile content to their users. For various reasons, including SEO, some of these companies then elected to stop using a transcoder like Usablenet and build a mobile site in-house.
Sears.com is one such case. Usablenet currently has 180,000 pages indexed in Google with Sears.com in the URL, but Sears no longer uses Usablenet to power their mobile site.
In fact, they’ve created a jQuery mobile showcase on m.sears.com, which has 381,000 pages indexed in Google. Many of these Usablenet pages are duplicates with older, potentially more trusted links, and they’re splitting the link equity of the Sears mobile site.
One of 180,000 indexed pages of the legacy Sears Usablenet site
Canonical tags on the Usablenet legacy content could fix this problem, but contacting an old vendor to have them implement changes on a site they no longer generate revenue from is never very easy to do.
That’s just the first three points that Bryson makes in his excellent article about mobile duplicate content. So, be sure to get more information right now about Mobile Duplicate Content SEO Issues and What to Do About Them
More Info About Mobile Duplicate Content
- How to Solve the Mobile SEO Problem with Media Queries(greatfinds.icrossing.com)
- Mobile SEO Tips For Everyone – Filmed on an iPad 2 – Whiteboard Friday(seomoz.org)
- 8 Tips You Need to Know for Mobile SEO(hubspot.com)