The unfortunate thing about Google for me is that departments that talk about similar things on their blogs don’t often coordinate with each other to provide a unified point of view. Such is the case with mobile.
My new column in Search Engine Land will be about Google’s recent Making Sites Mobile Friendly post, and why what Google describes as mobile friendly isn’t necessarily mobile SEO, so I won’t get too much into that post here. What’s interesting is that after they posted on the Webmaster Central blog that webmasters don’t need to do anything special for mobile users, they release a video and a blog post in different official channels about creating separate mobile user experiences.
First, there’s the mobile ads post, in which a Google representative says:
“Build for mobile: Merely porting your content to a mobile website or app is not enough. Mobile devices now enable you to use features such as location, voice commands, touchscreens and embedded cameras to create unique, engaging experiences for your users. Let your mobile team think creatively to discover how best to leverage these features to delight your customers.”
Contrary to the more passive webmasters don’t have to do anything for mobile, but there may be some instances where they would want to build separate mobile content tone, this author encourages innovation in mobile development as a way of differentiating one’s site from the mobile and desktop competition. The first step is to make your content usable on mobile devices, but that alone is not going to make you competitive, and that alone is not going to delight your customers.
To me, a solution like using CSS to render a mobile user experience based on desktop content is what the Google representative here is saying is not enough. If you remember the early days of the Web, companies used to take print brochure content and port it to their web site without considering the audience that was reading it online, and then were flummoxed when conversion rates and search engine traffic was low. In that case as in this, availability does not equal optimization.
There was also a quote recently from Eric Schmidt’s talk at the iab Leadership conference that was spoken in the context of buying advertising, but it has applications for mobile marketing in general. He says:
“And we can debate whether mobile or tablet will be growing faster than the desktop, but the fact of the matter is you want to be on all three. Right? Seems obvious. And you want to let the market decide and you want to participate in all three. Whatever your users are getting, that’s what you want.”
If you think about this in the context of content creation and SEO, where being available for these audiences means creating or formatting content, the catalyst for success is not whether you have budget to create a certain number of experiences, or what’s the easiest thing to do, but rather the thing that best fits your user’s needs. And this is generally in line with what Google recommends when it comes to creating content for search engine users.
Accessibility is only the start of optimization. Will be presenting more on that related to the recent Google Webmaster Central blog post in my next column, but I thought it worthwhile to demonstrate that Google is a large organization, and as such sometimes speaks with more than one voice.