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Webmaster Blog

March
07

Building Websites Optimized for All Platforms (desktop, mobile, etc.)

Today the Web is accessible almost everywhere.  Our PC, laptops, tablets, smartphones and more allow us to access content anywhere, anytime. This also means there is a need to show content in many ways, optimized to different environments. A common SEO question we receive is how to optimize websites for various platforms such as desktop, mobile phone, tablet, etc.

At Bing, we want to keep things simple by proposing the “one URL per content item” strategy. For each website, instead of having different URLs per platform (one URL for desktop, another for mobile devices, etc.), our feedback is that producing fewer variations of URLs will benefit you by avoiding sub-optimal and underperforming results.  It can help manage unwanted bandwidth usage as well.

There could even be a compelling monetary case made here for some businesses.  To build, maintain and continually update a second site, such as a mobile version of your normal website, often entails some cost.  Depending on the depth and frequency of work, that cost can add up each year.

By outputting only one URL for the same content, you will have the following benefits:

  1. You have more ranking signals coming to this URL. Example: the vast majority of mobile URLs do not have inbound links from other websites as people do not link to mobiles URLs like they link to regular web-situated URLs.
  2. This is also less search engine crawler traffic coming to your web servers, which is especially useful for large websites. Fewer URLs to crawl reduces the bandwidth our crawlers consume.
  3. Less work (and potentially less cost) building, updating and maintaining a stand-alone mobile-focused website.

Now that you have a single URL for each piece of your content, how do you optimize your website for different platforms?

  1. By performing client browser detection (user agent, customer preferences, etc.), you can still optimize the display for the device your customers are using. This topic is presented in detail in the document Designing Web Sites for Phone Browsers; please note that this document does touch briefly on the subject of redirection to alternate URLs for mobile content, which is not the approach we recommend for best SEO results.
  2. Also keep in mind our guidance on cloaking.  Bing recommends you avoid cloaking

Can I still optimize display for mobile clients?  Is it the end of m.domain.com style URLs?

We do not recommend you change everything right away. We are recommending that you think twice in your future strategies and figure out if the “one URL per content item” strategy can improve your SEO. Occasionally, it may make sense to keep some URLs targeted at specific clients (e.g. mobile devices), which you can opt to block from us via the usual methods (robots.txt, webmaster tools) or not. Our real concern is the hundreds of millions of additional URLs that are created on mobile-only domains, which for most of them will never accrue any value and rarely, if ever, rank in any form of search, yet still consume resources on both your servers and ours.

As noted, it may make sense to keep select URLs for specific instances, but you still need to manage these URLs.  By placing all of your URLs online and making them accessible, you encourage the search engine to index all of that extra content and wade through the information to try to understand what has value and what does not. If everyone links to your HTML webpage online, we’ll see that version as holding more value than a URL specific to a mobile device, which actually won’t even have enough link signals to tell us of its value. In the end, the lack of signals is itself a signal to us, and not a positive one.

Comments

  • Google uses a variety of User-Agents that pretend to be different devices. It's not as clean as the ideal "one URL per piece of content" model, but it supports the web as it exists, not how one might wish it to be.

  • thanks very useful info i m thinking to have mobile site for my business www.torontocitycab,ca your information will help me develop optimized site thanks

  • I think Bing need More Moderators to keep spammers a way.

    Let me know will help.

  • Thanks very prefer article, I will do my mobile website. This will be helpful.

  • Thanks for the feedback, Duane. I agree that when content is only duplicated for mobile searchers it makes sense to reformat it with responsive design in mind rather than break out the content on a separate URL. However, as was mentioned in the comments, this doesn't help the sites that have nearly 13 million pages indexed in Google under m. or mobile. subdomains, including m.bing.com. Google has come up with a rule that will find the most relevant smartphone and mobile content based on redirects and places them in the search results for relevant queries, so that searchers can get relevant results even in the absence of link signals. What's preventing Bing from improving mobile search today by doing the same thing?

    Also, does this contradict advice given by Bing Mobile's Andy Chu in the past, to build mobile-specific sites (searchengineland.com/bing-on-mobile-search-seo-96441)? Or Rangan Majumder's claim at SMX West this year that for smartphone and mobile queries in Bing mobile content will outperform desktop content, all other things being equal? It seems from your comments that you don't know enough about mobile pages to determine true relevance.

    At any rate, I appreciate the advice and agree that responsive web design can be preferable to serving different URLs for the same content. I think a hybrid approach is more appropriate for sites with mobile searchers who have different goals than desktop searchers (e.g. State Farm (searchengineland.com/consider-mobile-content-carefully-for-users-better-seo-92597) and Walgreens (searchengineland.com/how-to-best-optimize-your-mobile-site-for-seo-112940)), but I'm glad that you're addressing this issue that is becoming so important to webmasters as more searchers access the web from smartphones and tablet computers.

  • It is really very useful information thanks for sharing with us..

  • Very useful information for building good mobile website, thanks for sharing!

  • how to optimize page my blog on bing ?? Thanks

  • This was very helpful for my blog, I am know going to make it mobile!

  • Very useful article !

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  • Thank you for this post. At least one major search engine has made a clear statement on this important issue - and this is the best way IMO. Google currently has two indexes; one for WAP, full-feature "dumb phones" and the other is for desktops/laptops, eReaders, tablets and smartphones. Their last comment on this issue (an employee response to a related question on this on their Google Webmaster Central Blog) was in mid-February. They imply that they're keeping two indexes, but some questions remain. I've even tried to get a thorough answer from the Google employee who posted on their blog (via G+) but have received no response as of this date. Thanks for sharing.

  • Good information..Still a newbie but working on it..  

  • Thanks very much for this informative information. We are working on several mobile website but the keywords we have selected ranks on Google Mobile site but in Yahoo and Bing they are not ranking any more. A suggestion advise will be highly appreciated... Thanks in advance!!

    Imtiyaz khan

  • Duane, I was asked today whether an engine can detect whether a site was build using responsive design. Wasn't sure how to answer it. Can you provide insight? Thanks!

  • Yes, the engines can tell if a site was built using responsive design.  Cannot provide details on the mechanics of it, but we can.