Mobile Subdomain vs Responsive Web Design and SEO

Updated May 1st, 2015: Is your site mobile ready? Google’s latest algorithm update rolled out on April 21st targeting business whose websites we’re not mobile friendly. If you haven’t updated your site, you could be losing tons of traffic from mobile search. You can read more about Google’s update here. If you’re not sure if your site is mobile-friendly you can use Google’s handy Mobile-Friendly Test. If you need help getting your site updated and mobile ready let us know, we can help!

One of my many pet peeves as a developer, has to do with the separation of look and feel after viewing a website on both desktop and mobile. After a few dozen visits to a site on a desktop, I have clear idea about what to expect in regards to a site’s look and functionality. Then one day I’m waiting at the dentist, so I decide to check out the website on my phone. The browser loads and to my surprise the site looks completely different than I expected. On the phone I expected it to look relatively similar to the desktop version, so why is it so different?

Why Does the Mobile Site Look So Different?

This is because there’s a 99.9% chance that it really IS a different site. The site is usually located “m.domain.com (though it can be anything, such as “mobile.domain.com” or “www.domain.com/mobile/”) instead of “www.domain.com” and you can see it’s address in the omnibox.mobile-websiteNote that though websites employing Responsive Web Design can in theory have a completely different aesthetic than the desktop site, and it’s not a requirement that the “m” site look completely different than “www.” However, RWD (responsive web design) sites typically don’t show a large change of aesthetic between screen sizes. It’s just more common with “m” subdomains because they are truly different websites.

What’s So Good About Responsive Web Design?

So when would a company want to use a “m” subdomain? First let’s talk about why you want a RWD website. RWD simply means that you develop websites to display nicely on all devices regardless of screen size. This allows for a continuity between devices, while maintaining consistency between link navigation and style. For us here at ISM, SEO is the most important criteria we consider in making decisions, and responsive web design and SEO seem to go hand in hand. Google also prefers RWD over a “m” web design because it generally provides a more coherent user experience and helps avoid duplicate content issues because of search engines having to crawl 2 different codebases. Google prefers that a site share a single domain and html, and even recommends it to be a web standard. Consistency of look has indirect benefits as well, such as keeping users on your site longer and making it more likely for them to take action, and makes generally makes it easier to share content because of one dedicated link.

Why Would I Want a “m” Subdomain?

So why is this not the case 100% of the time? Why go through the trouble of building a brand new website just for mobile users? Well, the arguments for a “m” site seem to revolve around speed.  It’s true that a website with tailor fit Javascript, CSS, and images, can result in a website that’s fast and streamlined because nothing but what’s essential has been introduced. Another argument is that if you run an old website, especially if it has a large legacy codebase, it can be difficult and expensive to rebuild the code just so it works on mobile devices.

So What Should I Do?

I believe the problem however, can be solved in a trade-off for most websites. Though the argument of legacy code is a tough problem to tackle, requiring more than just development decisions, there are good solutions to help increase mobile speed. Unless you have to develop specifically for older browsers,the push toward a more coherent user experience and a consolidation of resources is obviously a better solution. And again, SEO is an argument that sometimes gets left out among us developer types, but it all goes back to the idea that if no one can find your website, what does it matter?

Do You Even Lift? Executing A Content Marketing Strategy That Gets Results

Content Marketing StrategyWhat do getting swole and content marketing have in common?

More that you might think.  By applying some of the same principles that work in the gym to your content development and marketing you can get the results you are looking for.

So do you even lift?

Content Marketing Strategy | Start TodayThe first step to getting results is to take action. Do something.  Start somewhere.  You have a boring niche? So… you still have build content. Your industry is too technical? Doesn’t matter… you still have to do it. You don’t like social media… you still have to do it.

If you want the results, you have to put in the work, and the work isn’t easy. Sometimes it feels like a grind to continuously promote content in various verticals, but to be a thought leader or subject matter expert, you have to put in the effort. KISSmetrics has awesome content about maximizing engagement by leveraging available data about the timing of distribution. This post is a great example.

So, how can you get results from your content marketing?

Have a plan before you show up

Wandering around the gym doing a little of this and a little of that isn’t going to work – you need a plan.

Have goals for your content marketing. Knowing why you are developing a particular piece of content keeps the creation process controlled. Content serves various functions – is it sales copy? Educational copy? Industry specific? Linkbait? All these content types require different approaches to get maximum results.  Will Reynolds from SEER has some incredible data on putting a content plan together here.

Don’t skip leg day

Leg day sucks, but it’s important.  You can’t skip the tough parts and expect to meet your goals.

Getting results from your content marketing requires that you have a plan for your content and that you stick to the plan. Know what, when, and where you are going to promote your content before you build it. Put a timeline or schedule in place to maximize your engagement across social media networks. Preparing a distribution schedule, drafting tweets, and selecting pictures and hashtags in advance makes executing easier, and it gives your content marketing efforts a more coherent feel.

No curls in the squat rack

The squat rack is for squats – knowing where to post your content makes you more efficient, and less likely to get the stink eye.

Stop Publishing Low Value ContentKnow where your content belongs and put it there. Cluttering up Facebook with every idea that pops into your head isn’t a content marketing strategy. Evaluate your content and understand what outlets are most applicable for your particular content goals. Does it belong on LinkedIn or Pinterest? Putting your content in front of the most likely audience, respects your audience’s time – and people love that.

You can’t out train a bad diet

You can do crunches until you pass out but if you eat cake for breakfast you won’t realize your goals

Stop with the crappy, low value, content. It’s poison. It’s annoying. It’s not going to help you.

Having a disciplined approach to content creation ensures that you only turn out targeted content. Come up with a lot of ideas, cull the bad ones, flesh out the good ones to see if they will work, and develop only the ones that are new, useful, and feasible.

You gotta track your gains

Knowing your numbers is key to tracking results – if you aren’t keeping track, how do know where to adjust?

Once your content has been developed, refined, scheduled and finally released into the wild, you have to track it.  Your strategy has many assumptions, and paying attention to the life cycle of a piece of content gets you actionable insights for modifying and informing your next piece of content.

So that’s it:

  • Get started
  • Make a complete plan
  • Stick to the plan
  • Be smart with your efforts
  • Track your efficacy

Now that you have your content marketing tips if you want to “learn” more about the gym please check out one of my favorite YouTube channels to see the inspiration for this post.

 

Can HTML5 Help With Your SEO?

HTML5 has been a growing standard for about 2 years. Although the “5” denotes that this is the fifth official version of HTML, the plan seems to be that it will be an ongoing project, with new features being continually added, and none being taken away. This will tremendously help with any new version headaches in the future. I will cover some easy changes that you can (and should) start implementing right now if you haven’t already, and help increase your SEO.

HTML5 Doctype

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">

This is the old school, long and complicated way of describing a web page to a web browser. Now we just easily use this instead:

<!DOCTYPE html>

HTML5 File Specification

Instead of having to specify whether our link type is text/css or text/javascript, such as:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="path/to/stylesheet.css" type="text/css" />
<script type="text/javascript" src="path/to/script.js"></script>

We can simply use:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="path/to/stylesheet.css" />
<script src="path/to/script.js"></script>

HTML5 Semantic Header/Nav/Footer

Google has filed for a patent to make an adjustment to it’s PR algorithm. The change states that the search engine (SE) can adjust the relative importance of a link on any given page. Here is where these new semantic markup tags become invaluable. Before HTML5, we had to build websites using spans and divs. Since these tags don’t necessarily help SE’s fully understand what a block of code is trying to accomplish on a webpage, we can now add a bit of context:

<body>
  <header>
    Header content goes here
  </header>
  <nav>
    Navigation menu goes here
  </nav>
  <footer>
   Footer content goes here
  </footer>
</body>

Links in the header and navigation get a little more of a boost compared to those in the footer. Divs and spans are still in use today of course, but their utility has been slowly diminishing as newer tags continue to be developed.

HTML5 Links

Links also get a bit of an update to help make their targets a little better understood. One of the most popular links is the rel=”author” attributes:

<link rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/awesomeauthor″>

This bit of code is supposed to make author’s face show up next to the result description on the page (or author’s pizza, in this case).

HTML5 Forms

Ok, this last one is a little more complex, but super cool as it saves a lot of trouble behind the scenes. This bit of code validates the input field, and makes sure that the email address entered is a real email address:

<form action="" method="get">
<label for="email">Email:</label>
<input id="email" name="email" type="email" />
<button type="submit"> Submit Form </button>

For more information on HTML5 and ways you can improve the SEO and indexability of your website, check out these resources: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/html5-an-essential-weapon-for-seos/62512/ http://code.tutsplus.com/tutorials/28-html5-features-tips-and-techniques-you-must-know–net-13520 http://www.html5rocks.com/en