Mobile SEO Overview

Let's make sure your site shows up in search results. Here you can learn how to configure your site for multiple devices and help search engines understand your site.

Choose your mobile configuration

3 ways to implement your mobile website

There are three main techniques for implementing a website that can handle view screens of all types and sizes. Here’s a chart comparing the three methods:

Configuration Does my URL stay the same? Does my HTML stay the same?
Responsive Web Design Yes Yes
Dynamic Serving Yes No
Separate URLs No No
  1. Responsive web design: Serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the users’ device (desktop, tablet, mobile, non-visual browser), but can render the display differently (i.e., “respond”) based on the screen size. Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern.

  2. Dynamic serving: Uses the same URL regardless of device, but generates a different version of HTML for different device types based on what the server knows about the user’s browser.

  3. Separate URLs: Serves different code to each device, and on 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.

Google does not favor any particular URL format as long as the page(s) and all page assets are accessible to all Googlebot user-agents.

For more information on selecting a mobile site configuration (and weighing the pros and cons of each option), please see “Building Websites for the Multi-Screen Consumer”.

The key points for going mobile

As we discuss later, there are different configurations you can choose to make your site mobile-friendly. However, there are key points that you should take note of regardless of which configuration you choose to set up.

  1. Signal to Google when a page is formatted for mobile (or has an equivalent page that’s formatted for mobile). This helps Google accurately serve mobile searchers your content in search results.
  2. Keep resources crawlable. Do not use robots.txt to block search engines from accessing critical files on your site that help render the page (including ads). If Googlebot doesn’t have access to a page’s resources, such as CSS, JavaScript, or images, we may not detect that it’s built to display and work well on a mobile browser. In other words, we may not detect that the page is "mobile-friendly," and therefore not properly serve it to mobile searchers.
  3. Avoid common mistakes that frustrate mobile visitors, such as featuring unplayable videos (e.g., Flash video as the page’s significant content). Mobile pages that provide a poor searcher experience can be demoted in rankings or displayed with a warning in mobile search results. More information in Common mistakes section.

Understand the difference between devices

Mobile: In this document, "mobile" or mobile devices refers to smartphones, such as devices running Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone. Mobile browsers are similar to desktop browsers in that they can render a broad set of the HTML5 specification, although their screen size is smaller and in almost all cases their default orientation is vertical.

Tablets: We consider tablets as devices in their own class, so when we speak of mobile devices, we generally do not include tablets in the definition. Tablets tend to have larger screens, which means that, unless you offer tablet-optimized content, you can assume that users expect to see your site as it would look on a desktop browser rather than on a smartphone browser.

Multimedia phones: These are phones with browsers that are able to render pages coded to meet XHTML standards, support HTML5 Markup, JavaScript/ECMAscript but might not support some of the extension APIs in the HTML5 standard. This generally describes the browser in most 3G-ready phones that are not smartphones.

Feature phones: On these phones, browsers lack the capability to render normal desktop webpages coded using standard HTML. This includes browsers that render only cHTML (iMode), WML, XHTML-MP, etc.