Jacob Smart
January 2, 2017

How Mobile SEO Is More Than Just “Mobile Friendly”

Mobile SEO / Mobile responsive

Think your site is heavily armed for the mobile-first digital market? Think again! If you’re not sure about the difference between “Mobile Friendly” and Mobile SEO, your website may be missing out on some key areas, putting your business at a disadvantage. Here are the major differences and ideas behind what your site will need to be ready to maximize on the mobile market.

how-mobile-friendly-is-not-the-same-as-mobile-seo-01Source: www.aumcore.com

A little over a year ago, Google announced that “…more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.”

There’s no way around the fact that smartphones dominate the internet. That being said, there still seems to be some confusion around the two key terms used to describe this trend. What are the two expressions you may ask?

Mobile-Friendly and Mobile SEO

how-mobile-friendly-is-not-the-same-as-mobile-seo-02Source: www.seonomics.com

Often being assumed to imply the same idea, the two phrases actually have different meanings and implications. A mobile-friendly site is a webpage that follows a set criterion to make a mobile-user’s web journey smooth and efficient. These could be points such as having a responsive design or viewable content across multiple platforms.

Mobile website SEO is not only ensuring your site is responsive, but also performing the search engine optimization techniques required to boost your website’s visibility in the eyes of search engines. This leads to higher search rankings and better results.

You can see a breakdown of the differentiating components of mobile friendly vs. mobile SEO below. Being mobile friendly is a subset of mobile SEO. So while mobile SEO requires your site to be mobile friendly, this alone will not satisfy mobile SEO requirements.

Mobile Friendly

  • Mobile URL structure
  • Mobile sitemap
  • Responsive web design


Mobile SEO

  • Responsive web design
  • Mobile URL structure
  • Mobile sitemap
  • Back linking strategy
  • Content optimization
  • Keyword research and implementation
  • Meta tags
  • Mobile indexing
  • Page speed optimization
  • Image optimization
  • Social media optimization


Even though they don’t necessarily mean the same thing, both are immensely important for your business, and work together as a unit for the best mobile website experience. The two adequately complement each other extremely well and are equally crucial in developing brand awareness. Let’s explore the key factors of each and how they can inordinately boost your company.

Understand Your Website’s Configuration

Remember two years ago when we all raced to adjust our websites after Google introduced the “Mobile Friendly” label for pages whose content was seamlessly visible across multiple handheld devices? Even though the tag has since been dropped, we continue to see how important adapting is. Actually, it’s more important now that ever!

The idea of making sure your webpages can seamlessly adapt to every screen size, is the main idea around Mobile-Friendliness and a critical part for Mobile SEO. There are three main techniques for optimizing a site efficiently, all beautifully defined on Google’s webmaster page:

  • Responsive Web Design: Regardless of the user’s device, this form serves the same HTML code on the same URL. Renders different displays based on the screen size of the user. “Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern.”
  • Dynamic Serving: Same URL regardless of device, but a different HTML version is generated based off different devices and browser data from the user’s end.
  • Separate URLs: Different code for each user device and separate URLs. “This configuration tries to detect the users’ device, then redirects to the appropriate page using HTTP redirects along with the Vary HTTP header.”


how-mobile-friendly-is-not-the-same-as-mobile-seo-03Source: www.advancedwebranking.com

Responsive Web Design is arguably one of the biggest points to follow when discussing Mobile SEO. Differentiation for mobile content and one focused URL are two features remarkably necessary for your website to have. The only downsides with this form of design is that it can be too complex to technically implement if you aren’t familiar with the development side of projects and it can have a high cost of maintenance. Understanding the concept around how websites are managed differently across platforms, will guide you through perceiving the characteristics of a mobile site being friendly and optimized for search.

Mobile-First Indexing is here to Stay

“This is big, so send us your questions so we know what’s not clear & what we need to communicate more about”Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google.

We expected this was coming and even heard about it over a year ago, but this is the first time Google has posted details about the mobile-first index on their own blog.”Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land’s News Editor.

Recently in November, Google announced that they’ve begun to conduct experiments making their search index mobile-first. The reasoning behind it? Google explains:

“…This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher. To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first.”

how-mobile-friendly-is-not-the-same-as-mobile-seo-04Source: www.pexels.com

Mobile SEO and Site Rankings

Google has already started looking at mobile site content in the ranking of websites. What steps does your business need to take to ensure you’re going to be seen? Luckily, the tech giant gives us some insight on that as well.

If you have a responsive site where the markup of your content is the same across platforms, awesome you’re good to go and don’t need to worry, that means it’s mobile friendly. If the content on your site is different across platforms you may need to get to work and try doing things like avoiding to add “large amounts of markup that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document” and using the robots.txt testing tool to make sure your website is verified for cellular accessible. This is yet another step in the direction of making the world more portable.

Simply put, a Mobile-Friendly page is a responsive page. If your mobile page isn’t friendly, you need to start telling it to make friends (with smartphone users). Following the main concept in making your site viewable across devices is the first step in fashioning your webpage optimized for search. (See how the two complement each other?) Things like improving your cellular site’s speed performance, never using flash (like ever), getting rid of pop-ups, and making sure links can be successfully tapped with a user’s finger, are all Mobile SEO practices to pursue.

To Sum Up

A Mobile-Friendly site will almost reformat itself for a list of handheld/tablet devices. Mobile-SEO includes friendliness, along with additional strategies of improving your website for search – such as back linking and optimization of content. Hopefully, you’ve gained some insight into how beneficial the two terms can be for your business. Especially with the growing ownership of smartphones/tablets and falling purchases for desktops/laptops, it would be foolish to not have already taken action regarding your brand’s cellular optimization plans.

Do you have anything to add to the above? We’d love to see your comments, below.


jacob-smartJacob Smart is a content writer at Aumcore. His writing is fueled by his interest in technological advancements and the evolution of the marketing industry. He has a knack for thinking outside the box, and pursues his career through creative writing, mobile SEO, and aiding in the research of client-based projects. You can connect with him through his LinkedIn profile, or tweet @aumcore


Lead/Featured image: Copyright: ‘http://www.123rf.com/profile_scyther5‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

The following two tabs change content below.


Latest posts by CURATTI GUEST (see all)