The Moz Blog

The SEO's Guide to Building a Great Mobile Site

- Posted by to Web Design

The author's posts are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

If you're a regular reader of the Moz blog, chances are you've heard about the importance of investing in mobile. You've already formed an opinion on whether or not you'd like your employers/clients to build a responsive site or keep a separate mobile site, and you've started hinting that great mobile sites are worth the investment. The problem is, how can you make that happen?

In my experience as an SEO consultant, in order to effect change, you have to:

  • Convince key players that change is important
  • Know enough about the problem, the site, and the available solutions to recommend the best strategy
  • Be an active player in the implementation, making sure that the solution is implemented properly, and that the change doesn't create any new SEO problems

Using that framework, in order to get a mobile site built, you have to explain the necessity of creating a solid mobile site, investigate the options of responsive versus separate mobile sites (or a combination of the two), and guide the build and implementation of the mobile site. This is your guide to making that happen.

Why you need to invest in mobile

Mobile isn't a small amount of internet traffic anymore:


Mobile internet usage has grown dramatically in the past few years, and as cell phones and data plans get cheaper, mobile visitors will become more crucial to online success. It's easy for site owners to push aside the 10% of visits that were coming from mobile last year, but what about the end of 2013, when 20% of internet traffic is projected to be mobile?

(Also, do you notice how there's a spike in mobile internet usage every year in December? Aim for a November roll out of your new mobile site to make sure that it's up and ready for the influx of mobile visitors you'll get after the 25th. Bonus points for devising a mobile-specific marketing strategy in early January.)

All right, so a lot of people are using their phone to go online. But how does that translate into conversions?

For ecommerce

There has been a lot of discussion about mobile conversions, mostly because:

  1. It's new, so customers haven't adjusted to how they're going to use their new mobile devices yet
  2. It's new, so companies haven't built sites that visitors want to buy from yet
  3. New companies who are putting a lot of emphasis are getting amazing results, like Gilt and Fab, but larger online retailers, like Amazon, aren't selling much on mobile, even if they have great mobile sites.

According to Google, 35% of mobile visitors in 2012 have made a purchase on a smartphone. Keep in mind that only two thirds of all internet users have made online purchases, meaning that mobile visitors are really only about half as likely to make a purchase as a desktop visitor (and these stats back that up). And by "half," I mean that-glass-is-half-full: mobile visitors are half as likely to buy online as desktop users already, and as the web becomes more mobile-friendly and people get more used to relying on their phones for purchases, that number is only going to increase.

For offline companies

What if you're working for a company that doesn't sell its products online? That almost makes mobile more important. 70% of shoppers used a mobile phone while shopping during the 2012 holiday season, and 62% of those shoppers looked at the store's site or app. Giving visitors a great user experience can actually increase offline sales. If you're working for an offline retailer, consider building a site that will aid in-store sales, offering things like coupons, reviews of in store items, and more product details.

For informational sites

Last, many companies that provide articles and content rather than products think that visitors wouldn't want to spend the time reading their long form content on a mobile device, assuming that mobile visitors only read sites "on the go." But The New York Times put the effort into creating great mobile sites, and now one third of its traffic is coming from mobile devices. Mobile visitors will be able to read your content sitting on the bus, riding up elevators, and waiting in store lines.

Convinced yet?

If not, look through the masses of statistics on Karen McGrane's State of the Mobile Web - Sources post and find what speaks to your situation/site. There's just too much information out there for some of it not to be pertinent to you.

Once you've put together an epic presentation on the importance of a mobile site and convinced the right people, they're going to need some guidance planning the new mobile site.

Too many options

Choosing how to build your mobile site can be confusing and stressful, mostly because there are so many different options. You could build a separate site, with separate URLs. You could build a separate site that is served in place of the main site when a mobile visitor tries to access the page. You could build a separate site that is a (smaller) mirror image of the main site, or you could build a mobile site that is completely different. Or, of course, you could build a responsive site.

The reason there are so many options, and therefore too many choices, is that you're trying to answer two very separate questions with one answer:

  1. What content do you want to offer to your mobile customers, and
  2. How do you serve that content?


There are really only two ways you can build your mobile site: Either it has the same content as your main site, or it has different content.

Before you worry about the technology, or what exactly it will look like, you have to decide what your goals are for the mobile site. Are they the same as your primary site, or are you focusing on different conversions? Or (and this is an acceptable answer), are you considering building/improving your mobile site because the statistics at the beginning of this post freaked you out?

The key here is to figure out if visitors' goals on the main site should be the same on the mobile version of the site. This is partially determined by what you, as the business, want your visitors to do, and partially by what they actually want to do. You should determine your business goals internally, but use your web analytics to see what mobile visitors are doing on your current site.

If you and your customers want the same things from the mobile site that you do from the primary site, you probably want to build a mobile site with content that's identical to your primary site, unless you have the time and desire to regularly modify the mobile version. For example, SEOs who want to tweak their mobile sites so that they target slightly different search engine queries and browsing behaviors will want to build a mobile site that can be independently modified.


Now that you've decided what content you want on your site, you can start to look at how to make that come to life.


If you decided that you want to build a mobile site that has identical (or near-identical) content to the main site, you may want to consider building a responsive site. Some of the pros of a responsive design are:

  • Once you've built responsive templates, you don't have to update both the main and the mobile sites separately.
  • When you only have one version of content, and you know that the mobile version will show up on a tiny screen, you may find yourself editing your content better, which is good for your primary site as well.
  • Links that point to your desktop site will also point to your mobile site, making it strong even though it's new.
  • Your site will amaze visitors (other SEOs/web designers looking for examples for their blog posts) as they change the browser size.

Resistance to responsive sites

"Building a responsive site would take too long/cost too much, because it would involve rebuilding the main site as well."

To save money or spread the costs out over time, you can either build a separate mobile site, roll out the responsive site slowly, or do a combination of both.

To "roll out the responsive site," identify the pages on your site with the most traffic, and make them responsive, doing as much as you can in increments until the entire site is responsive. A benefit of this is that you'll get feedback from customers as little chunks of the site become responsive, meaning that the problems won't affect the entire site.

If you decide to just build a separate but identical site, use the same URLs for your mobile sites, but have your servers deliver the mobile version of the site to mobile devices (this is called dynamic serving). That way, you can start working on rolling out responsive design later and don't have to deal with broken URLs.

"The content on my site takes too long to load on a mobile device."

There are a few different types of content, so I have a few answers to this:

  • Text actually doesn't take that long to load, and research shows that mobile visitors are actually quite willing to scroll through long pieces of content. Though, if you really want to hack away at the text that's on your desktop site, why not just hack away at it on the desktop version of your site as well?
  • Images can be served dynamically so that mobile devices are offered small, low-resolution pictures while larger devices get higher quality.
  • Complicated JavaScript/CSS can usually be simplified without giving up too much of their functionality.
  • Flash just shouldn't be on your site at all anymore. Just let that technology go, everyone, we have HTML5 now.

Separate mobile sites

If, on the other hand, you've decided to create different content for your mobile visitors, you'll want to go with a separate site. Pros of separate sites are:

  • There are no limitations from the main site, meaning:
    • The site can be completely different, targeting mobile users' needs more directly.
    • The site can be largely the same, but tweaked to target mobile users' keywords and mobile search engine results.
  • The main site doesn't have to be redesigned at all.
  • The initial build will be easier, since you don't have to set up CSS media queries to lay out.
  • If there is a lot of bureaucracy around the main site, you may have more flexibility to test new ideas on the mobile site, which you can roll into the main site if they're proven beneficial.

Resistance to separate sites

The only real resistance to separate sites is the idea that responsive sites are better.

The cool thing is, building an awesome separate mobile site does not mean that you've passed by the opportunity for responsive, if that becomes the big thing. Mobile First, by Luke Wroblewski, theorizes that building a responsive site from a mobile site is actually easier, and in the end, lays a better foundation for a great responsive site.

Make it happen

I'm not a designer or a developer. If you are both, congratulations, you're awesome. Go read Responsive Web Design to build your new responsive site, or just start writing some HTML for your new mobile site.

If you're an internet marketer like me, check out the guide that Bridget Randolph and I wrote on designing, helping with development, and tracking mobile sites:

Good luck!

Getting a great mobile site built is still an uphill battle, but it's definitely worth it. For those of you that have built great mobile sites already, anything to add? For those of you that haven't, any questions I didn't cover?

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  • MrThomas

    An article on the best way to build a mobile site, yet seomoz doesn't have a mobile site.....

  • CSLyons

    Loved what you said about Flash - Just let it go, people. :-)

  • Praveen_Sharma

    Thanks Kristina for bringing this topic in limelight again. Very informative indeed.

    But, what I like most about mobile websites is that they allow you to make use of mobile phone's functionalities for your business. You can allow your visitor's to directly call/sms you from their mobile devices while surfing your website. Just give them a call us now option and it works.

  • Member

    Hi Kristina,

    We are a SEO Agency in Argentina and just re did our website so that it is responsive. We noticed the following; the sites rankings improved from a cell phone search. Our rankings did not drop after we rolled out the new site and nor did our traffic. We rank for a very competitive keyword which is "posicionamiento web" which means SEO in Spanish. Just wanted to share this with you since so many people are scared to go Responsive. It is more expensive and especially if you mix it with parallax scrolling like we did but the user experience is great expecially if you are doing content marketing like us. The only downside is loading time. It is really important to make sure your responsive design does not increase your loading time. This happened to us and we are still trying to fix it.

    Thank and awesome post


    • Kristina Kledzik

      That's great to know, thank you for sharing, Carla!

      You're right, a lot of people are skeptical about the need to go mobile (and the benefits of responsive). Case studies like this will help a lot!

  • Member
    Christina Radisic

    I rarely come across anyone who says they don't need a mobile website, more that they can't afford it after already paying out for their main website, and that they weren't told there was a difference.

    Maybe it's time to let clients know from the beginning what will actually help their business instead of trying to upgrade them to a responsive design somewhere down the line. From a designer and SEO prospective it is so much easier to plan everything before the design gets under way.

    I wonder how long until our clients expectation is to pay one fee for a website design that covers all devices.

    • Kristina Kledzik

      Hi Christina/Name Buddy,

      I totally agree, it's best to make the site responsive from the get-go - or during a convenient redesign - than it is to convince them further down the road. And I'm sure you're right, as mobile becomes more prevalent, responsive sites/CMSs that automatically create mobile versions of pages will become the standard.

      For now, though, we have to convince our clients not just that a mobile site would be a good idea, but that the investment would pay off. That's part of the reason I focused so much on future use of mobile: you need to explain that investing the money now will pay off later as mobile use increases.

  • karenmcgrane

    There is a lot of resistance to separate mobile sites. A separate mobile website usually provides a much worse experience for the user. They offer a paltry subset of the content and features that are available on the desktop website, which makes finding information or making a decision painful. Why should I get different content or less content simply because I have a smaller screen? What if my mobile device is the only way I go online—why am I a second class citizen?

    A separate mobile website is also a nightmare to maintain. By forking your content into mobile and desktop versions, now you have to update it in two places. Want to add an article, revise a product description, fix a typo? You've doubled your workload. Most web teams are already operating with limited people and resources, and we just don't have the time, budget, or staff to maintain two (or more) versions of the website.

    A better contrast would be between responsive (client side) and adaptive (server side) solutions to the problem. Both are valid choices. Most organizations will wind up using a combination of both. The SEO community should be discussing the impact of both on search.

    • Kristina Kledzik

      First of all, I want to say that I think we're more on the same page than you think we are. I loved your presentation at MozCon, and I hate bad separate mobile sites.

      That said, assuming that a separate mobile site is bad just because it doesn't have the exact same set up as the main site doesn't really seem fair to me. Think of Avinash's example from MozCon with the Motrin website. If you visit it on your desktop, it's fairly busy, with general information about its products. But if you visit it on your phone, it has the same information, but a dramatically different top level page structure to allow for better navigation. In a situation like that, I think that a separate mobile site has some legitimate value.

      I also know that some SEOs would prefer to be able to tweak their mobile content to tailor it to mobile searches. I'm not the sort of SEO who is that particular, and I'm skeptical that most sites need that level of detail, but that doesn't stop it from being a valid option, so long as they don't cut or hide content.

      But, thank you so much for chiming in! Regardless of how people end up building their mobile sites, I think the point we can all agree on is that they need to spend more time making them good.

    • joshuah

      "Want to add an article, revise a product description, fix a typo? You've doubled your workload"

      If you have a separate site, your workload is doubled for designing new sections or functionality for your website, but a properly designed site should have mobile and desktop versions that plug in to the same database, so things like adding articles and fixing typos can still only need to be done once.

      I do agree with you on the annoyance of websites whose mobile versions only have a subset of features. I'm seeing less of the tragic redirection to home page than I used to, but there's still plenty of it out there. If you're going to do a mobile site right (and I still think full responsive is the best way to go whenever possible) I think every desktop URL should at least have a mobile URL equivalent, and with easy links for switching.

      • Kristina Kledzik

        Yep, I agree. I'm very much in the responsive camp, but I don't want to write a guide saying it's the only camp. But, you'll notice that the default is responsive, unless you have a really good reason to go separate!

    • Tyssen

      Having separate mobile and desktop sites doesn't necessarily mean having to update in two different places. CMSs that aren't tied to the page as an entry type of structure will let you create a single piece of content and reuse it in multiple places, so you have two separate sets of templates that pull in the same data.

      How the server determines which set of templates to use is where problems will come in though as it will more than likely require device detection which isn't foolproof so you might end up with certain devices receiving the 'wrong' experience and depending on how things are put together, it might be difficult for those users to get to an experience that does suit them.

      • Kristina Kledzik

        I thought that CMSs could help with that issue, but I wasn't sure, so I didn't say anything. Thanks for chiming in, Tyssen!

  • 3Cwebsites

    Great post Kristina!

    I'm currently working with a large real estate association and we're going the "responsive" route for two reasons:

    1) The platform the site is built on separates content from presentation so we can re-purpose the content on any medium.

    2) There is a substantial amount of content and to build a completely separate site would be a huge costly undertaking - not to mention the maintenance of the content for two sites.

    For anyone just getting their website started I recommend keeping mobile in mind as you layout your website's architecture. It could save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

    • Kristina Kledzik

      Agreed! Making the transition is time consuming, and you could probably just start with a CMS that has responsive design built in (or templates that automatically restructure your content into a separate mobile site).

  • Alicka

    The best part of the post I like is "the-glass-is-half-full". For me it has both the meaning, Why I should leave 50% at present and rest 50% of future when the "GLASS WILL BE COMPLETELY FILLED".

    Being an Internet marketing company we have a responsive design that fits well for all devices.

    Thanks for the nice post and a thumbs up too.

  • acrdepos

    Great post Kristina,

    I wanted to bring out two interesting points I found in this article.

    "And by "half," I mean that-glass-is-half-full: mobile visitors are half as likely to buy online as desktop users already, and as the web becomes more mobile-friendly and people get more used to relying on their phones for purchases, that number is only going to increase."

    Would you say that the standard Desktop will one day become merely obsolete?

    And my second point I wanted to touch on:

    "Flash just shouldn't be on your site at all anymore. Just let that technology go, everyone, we have HTML5 now."

    I had to laugh when I read this statement. The only thing I see from flash anymore is in the lines of game development. And one very special exception:

    ... Do you think the way of Flash and Actionscript are out the door and its new predecessor for game development will be HTML5?



    • Kristina Kledzik

      So far, everything I've heard about mobile vs desktop online sales says that mobile is growing, but not taking anything away from desktop. It's certainly possible that mobile will eventually lower desktop sales, since people right now might be delaying online purchases until they can get to a desktop, but mobile phones are not making desktops obsolete (not anytime soon, anyway), so I don't think that desktop sites or ecommerce will ever become obsolete as well.

      As to Flash - we will not name names, but as consultants, we still hear people ask for Flash. Part of the problem is, the web designer/developer/SEO community all knows that it's pretty much extinct, but people outside our industry sometimes like to recommend how we can get things done, and they know they've seen pretty things in Flash. Maybe that means that I didn't need to include that in this post, but I figured, cover my bases, right?

      As for the game development - I'm completely not in that industry. Maybe they'll keep Flash alive!

      • Alicka

        In my opinion FLASH is not the loved thing for search engines so it is avoided by almost all the SEO (A major portion of SEO community). The main reason as of now, the flash file makes the website LOAD TIME higher than keeping the alternative of it. Once was the time when the content embeded in swf was non redable and now the Page Load Time has taken the place. Otherwise there is nothing wrong in using Flash on the website, it definitely enhances the website's Look but it has a downside too.

      • Ria.TKStarley

        I agree, Kristina - I can't see desktop becoming obsolete any time soon, because there's so much that cannot be done by mobile/tablet, hence why office, schools and homes are still full of PCs and Macs. I also think that age/habits may play a part in this - there are plenty of people who may never embrace smartphones or tablets, and those that do may still lack the trust levels required to make purchases via these devices rather than desktop. I reckon it'll be a long time (if ever) for mobile ecommerce to be as profitable as desktop, so web developers/designers and SEOs are going to have to cover all bases!

      • acrdepos

        Kristina, fortunately I don't think the desktop will become obsolete either. (At least anytime soon. And if it did - I don't really think I'd adjust to it very well and most of us SEOs wouldn't either...) However, there's quite a number of speculations though floating around out there, which is why I had to ask. On the topic of game development, those are probably going to be the only ones who keep it alive, along with some other people. If you've ever heard or visited the site newgrounds, you'd probably say it's not going out the door anytime soon. (Also as a game developer - I'm trying to see if I can create games in HTML5 - And yes HTML5 and CSS3 is an AMAZING thing.)

  • collindavis

    The one drawback with mobile responsive websites from the SEO point of view is the inability to target mobile specific keywords. Having parallel websites in this case helps but then it too has its negatives.

    If search engines had a system where you could have separate meta tags for desktop and mobile devices, that would be a real boon for marketers.

    • Kristina Kledzik

      That may be true, but I also can't really see Google starting to recognize mobile meta tags vs desktop meta tags. That would go against all of their SEO-isn't-really-necessary principles.

  • Member

    Mobile friendly websites are extremely important and will become even more important in the not so near future. I hear many people say, “I don’t need a mobile website because none of the visitors to my site use mobile devices” even if this is true, the trend is likely to change and it is always better to be proactive not reactive.

  • Member

    Hi Kristina, we are an Online Marketing agency in Spain and we are agree with your opinion that e-commerce's need a responsive web because their goal is to show and display content. The more facilities you give to your costumers, the more success you'll gonna have.

    Good post! Desmarkt Marketing Online Agency

    [link removed by staff]

    KeriMorgret edited 2013-07-26 07:43:34
  • Rameez-Ramzan

    We all know that people are switching on smartphone and day by day numbers are increasing. Why companies doesn't move toward mobile either they are scare or something else? There are very little number who are following Google Mobile guideline, I think it maybe 10% site who are following.

  • OnlineEstateAgents

    As an online estate agent we rely on rightmove to a certain extent for the majority of our purchaser leads. They are having a big push currently to secure advertising on their mobile site. They actually claim that 40% of all of their traffic is currently from smart phones and tablets. I guess the number of mobile users depends on the content of the site?

    KeriMorgret edited 2013-08-06 07:07:14
  • Patrick Coombe

    I spent a year pushing mobile sites and while I learned a lot, I wish I would have just built responsive themes instead. SO much easier to maintain and so nice not having to worry about content versions and all that jazz. Great writeup Kristina, very informative.

  • JitendraVaswani

    Thnx for sharing this amazin content. Most of the people dont care SEO mobile website. This will bring their conversions rate down. Great mobile results in better conversion rates

    • Kristina Kledzik

      Absolutely. I think part of the problem is that a lot of people throw up crappy mobile sites, then point to those low conversion rates as a sign that mobile isn't beneficial for them.

  • Member

    Has anyone seen some awesome eCommerce responsive sites with complex navigations?

    • Kristina Kledzik

      Smashing Magazine is one. Their navigation has two side layers on the desktop version of the site, which are moved to the top when your screen reaches a tablet size, and then minimize down to a little button in a mobile sized screen, which opens up to show the navigation on the full page. And since it's responsive, you can see all of this by visiting their site and just resizing your browser screen. :)

  • Spook SEO

    The 35% mobile visitors that made purchases is just too much to pass up. And that was just on 2012. If you're looking to have a business that will stand the test of time, you'll know that adopting your business to the mobile evolution is the way to go.

  • newbie88

    I don't know what the use SEO At mobile site, although the revenue from click Google is not valuable is it?

  • Rajeev_R

    Google is taking a stronger position on mobile SEO, it will begin demoting sites in mobile search results if they are not mobile friendly or are misconfigured.

  • Member

    There are 2 options

    a) Building Mobile Site - A bit complex for smaller to medium sites. Applying 2 version of sites will require professional know-how in SEO - canonical, backlink, site updation etc

    b) Responsive - Yes, seems much comfortable. With many CMS - Joomla, Wordpress - popular for most of the sites are having 3rd party extension, templates. Its much easier to have responsive site and will not affect SEO Capabilities of site.

    • Kristina Kledzik

      There can be a mix between the two as well - for example, your mobile site can be responsive, allowing it to fit all smartphones and tablets comfortably.

      Part of what I wanted to describe in this post is, we're very focused on responsive vs separate, but we should really focus more on what content we want on our mobile sites (generally, it should be the same content), THEN worry about the technology.

      And the technology is much more fluid than we tend to discuss. You can build a site that is 90% responsive, but certain pages are written separately for mobile vs desktop. Or you can build a site that's separate for navigation but then flips to responsive pages.

      The point is, you should come up with what you want to create first, without worrying about the limitations of technology, then find a way to make it. Because, technology today is impressive, and really isn't very limiting at all.

  • jeremyf

    Kristina, does that report about Mobile usage have data about whether that percentage is mostly B2B or B2C?

    • Kristina Kledzik

      I don't know, sorry! Probably mostly B2C, but B2B should definitely have a solid mobile strategy as well.

  • hetshah84

    Thanks Kristina for this topic. it's very informative information.

    There is big question about Responsive Design or Mobile URLs?

    Many prefer Mobile site and other's Responsive website.

    so does anyone can explain me which should have to consider and helpful.?

    • joshuah

      Both can work equally well for SEO but there are tradeoffs to either choice depending on your preference and what works best for your site - I have done it both ways.

      Responsive design has a much simpler structure as the URLs are always the same, making it easier to maintain and easier for users to share URLs regardless of their device. Browsers across devices are all getting really good at handling responsive CSS as well, and as the lines blur between desktop, tablet, and phone I think it makes the most sense if you can do it. The downside is it can be hard to organize the same content on desktop to appear on mobile. You can hide elements but they still take time to download.

      Having separate mobile URLs have the advantage of only loading elements you want to show on the mobile site and being easier to optimize the organization of what displays for mobile users. The downsides are basically having two sites to maintain and more things to get right with canonical URLs and redirects.

    • KevinBudzynski

      I think the real question is mobile site or not (you should use a responsive design anyways). More and more companies are creating a separate site for mobile devices just because of the user experience is typically different (well summarize by Joshua H).

  • Josh-Lee

    I primarily run wordpress sites, and the premium responsive themes I employ have worked great on mobile. I also use cloudflare to customize how images are served. I am still tweaking the cloudflare settings for mobile, but I will say the sites are lightening fast on a desktop.

    • Kristina Kledzik

      Good to know! It's getting easier and easier to get a CMS with a good responsive set up, which is great because building something responsively is really the hardest part. :)

  • AutoAgent

    Hi Kristina

    Something that bothers me about your Responsive section, you mentioned separate mobile and responsive sites quite often, and I disagree with this. A responsive site IS a mobile site as well, you don't need a mobile site if your site is truly responsive.

    Some thing that might interest readers. In South Africa, our mobile penetration is high, and I'm currently seeing an average of 54% mobile usage for our used car website. This increases to 69% over the weekends as office workers go home and rely on mobile devices. These stats are for a responsive design.

    • Kristina Kledzik

      Yes, a responsive site is a mobile site. By "separate mobile site," I meant a site with a separate set of HTML for mobile users only. A responsive site uses the same HTML for visitors on all devices.

      Sorry if that wasn't clear!

  • Member

    I believe If somehow responsive design have separate Meta Tag updates, it'll solve SEO problem. I think all the other practices are the same but on mobile serps Meta tags look too long and on some screen they actually look mess. I am not quite sure if i would change the main content for mobile site.

    Thanks Kristina, great content.

    • Kristina Kledzik

      I agree, that's something that Google should work on! Long page titles in mobile SERPs look stupid. :(

  • paints-n-design

    Clearly a relevant topic. Mobile is more and more present. 70% of www-users in germany are using the smartphone for online shopping.

    So special the shop part is something we have to think about - not in future, i guess right now!

  • palimadra

    Clearly mobile version of websites is going to be the norm specially for the eCommerce websites if they want to grow particularly in the third world countries. Having a separate website allows you to build a good user experience which might not be possible to emulate by creating a responsive website.

    Kristina can you please elaborate on why responsive websites are better than separate mobile sites as you did mention it as one of the reason why people do not go in for separate mobile sites.

    Thank you for a good post and food for thought this Monday morning.

    • Kristina Kledzik

      To see why I recommend responsive, see Karen's comment above. ;)

      Basically, a well-crafted responsive site is easier to maintain, ensures continuity between devices (which is more user friendly), and means that your site will work on all devices, rather than just on smartphones and desktops.

      But, as I also mentioned, if you have a strong reason to go with a separate mobile site, go for it. Just remember that mobile visitors want a lot of content too, and you shouldn't create a drastically different experience for them.

  • Luca Cascino

    Guys, how about mobile site / responsive SEO? Is there a way you can think we can optimize differently compare to a desktop site? Can you suggest any Moz's article about this?

    • Kristina Kledzik

      There are a couple of schools of thought on this.

      One is that responsive is the best way to go, because it ensures that you have robust content (because it's all the content you've already optimized on your desktop site) and identical URLs. I talked about it a bit in my original Moz post on responsive design:

      Another is that, if you want to get into the nitty gritty of SEO and optimize text very closely to keywords, you may want a separate mobile site, so you can optimize your mobile site for mobile traffic. In my experience, I haven't run into sites that I feel need this level of optimization, but it's still a valid option.

  • leroygodfrey5

    Aw, it was a real top quality write-up. In fact I would like to write like this too - taking time and serious energy to create an excellent posting... but what could I say... I put things off an awful lot and by no means seem to get things completed...

  • stephen86

    Really good insight on SEO guide for building a mobile site. Thanks for reminding basics, you have described very well both options for creating an SEO friendly mobile site. Thanks for sharing!!!


  • BannerKart

    Hi Kristina,

    Thanks a lot for sharing SEO guide for mobile site, Now days we require to have mobile site, because many peoples are using their mobile to purchase products online.

  • Member
    TheeDesign Studio

    Great post. We offer responsive web design services, but we understand that, that option is not for everyone. We do agree though that mobile strategy should be in place sooner rather than later.

  • nazre


    An effective research and very impressive presentation. In current scenario (not current exactly), we all know that Laptops and PC's are replacing by Mobiles and Tabs, now the point is that our main focus is Mobile, you have mentioned some interesting and very valuable points that a user can easily contact us while surfing our website which creates a website more valuable than surfing on Laptops or PC's. Its true that many times we plan to call the website concern person while surfing the website on PC's but in mobile, we have no excuses. I found its great to read the article and getting some valuable tips. Definitely you gave us the way to increase the conversion rate.

    nazre edited 2013-07-22 12:46:32
  • Ash-Grennan

    Great post Kristina, whilst mobile is becoming more of a dominant force, from a usability perspective I don't like the idea of separate sites for mobile due to differences in layout, usability, familiarity etc. Responsive layouts are nice but many established sites would struggle to switch. I guess we just need more time until vast majority factor in mobile friendly design.

    • Kristina Kledzik

      There are actually a lot of sites out there that are "separate" mobile sites, but they offer the same content. For example, has a separate mobile site that takes the pieces of content from its product pages and puts them on separate pages, so visitors select the data they want to read, rather than having to scroll. has a separate mobile site because otherwise its articles and images would be massive.

      That's why I really wanted to stress that you should design and write the content of the site first, then just find the best technology to make that happen. There are probably a lot of separate mobile sites you've visited and haven't even noticed were separate, because they're doing it right. But when companies take four pages of content, make them small and call it "mobile," they give separate mobile sites everywhere a bad name.