Types of Mobile Websites for Online Businesses
As ownership of smartphones and tablet devices continues to boom, the market share of users accessing the web from these devices has also rapidly grown. From January 2012 to 2013, worldwide web usage on mobile devices grew over six per cent in comparison to desktop. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that most search agencies will recommend the creation of a mobile website as part of an online marketing campaign.
Mobile web access is becoming more and more prominent in everyday life. For example, it’s not uncommon for bargain hunters to compare product prices to get the best deal while out shopping. Therefore, an efficiently optimised mobile site with competitive prices can encourage sales on the fly.
There are two primary types of site design for mobile devices. These are responsive design or a separately built mobile site.
Responsive design is a single site solution that renders the same website to appear on both desktop and mobile devices under a single URL. This is Google’s preferred method of mobile design, as the single URL solution ensures that all SEO value is shared between both mobile and desktop sites. The main drawback with responsive design is that it can be difficult to serve unique content for mobile devices, as browsing habits can be different for mobile users when compared to desktop.
A separate mobile site will generally be hosted on a subdomain or directory of the main desktop website and allows unique content to be served to mobile users. However, users will not be automatically directed to the mobile version of the site and a separate SEO campaign will be required to promote the content within search engines. Due to the additional effort required to index a separate mobile website, this is not Google’s preferred method.
Selection of one of these approaches should be based on the purpose of the site itself, be it a stand-alone mobile resource or the same content as desktop. Typically responsive design can be more expensive to implement than separate site. However, a stand-alone mobile site means SEO efforts may have to be doubled to ensure both desktop and mobile sites appear in search engine results pages.
When considering implementation of a mobile site, businesses should consult their design and SEO agencies early in the process. Both should be able to help identify the pros and cons of each site type in line with its functions and the goals of the business.