We’ve been asked a question by clients whether we should be using an m.subdomain or the advantages and disadvantages of any alternatives. So we wanted to share with you some reasons why mobiles generally utilise a sub-domain format i.e. m.nameofdomain.com – in case you get asked the question like we did.
There are three ways to undergo a mobile site reconstruction – in our view:
Responsive design (take a look at this site for an example http://responsive.is/bostonglobe.com) this concentrates all your content in one area and repurposes it for different devices/formats (note, not platforms). Think of this from a back linking perspective: all backlinks and all SEO benefits are consolidated into one place, one page name and one domain. Great stuff.
If you are on a desktop Google will provide the results from the standard desktop site, whereas if you are searching on mobile, Google recognises this and will provide you will the results from the mobile site. It’s really about if you are supplying different content on mobile (which for mobile you are really, much less content) then it’s good to have this is on a separate (sub) domain for SEO purposes to return the most relevant search results to you. That being said you can dominate in certain areas as Google will prioritise mobile specific sites on mobile devices – knowing that the page load time is going to be faster amongst many other algorithmic parameters. For example, something we’ve done: www.simplesafetysolutions.com, http://www.wilson-cooke.co.uk/
The same domain
Having the same domain where the CSS and user-agent is amended based on recognising a different device . Here the user-agent recognises the device and delivers exactly the same content in a different format. This has the obvious benefit that this utilises the existing SEO benefits of the current domain and is easy for users to guess. However, Google will not prioritise this within their mobile searches (that being said, question whether this is needed for a current high ranking site?) For example, something we’ve done: www.redfootshoes.com (and the same domain would appear on mobile sites, too)
.Mobi version (not recommended)
e.g. dancewearcentral.mobi is a new domain so all the ranking authority you have gained for your main URL will be lost. .Mobi isn't too common at the moment, but if that changes there could be an argument that users would expect this to work for client's URLS.
Responsive design is a difficult avenue to undertake for the reasons that a) it’s expensive, b) it’s not suited to all formats eg I am unable to find an ecommerce solution and is somewhat restrictive in layout formats c) browser support isn’t quite there (yet!) d) doesn’t optimise images fully for loading times. We therefore recommend an m.subdomain for mobile sites as these utilise your main domain ranking authority whilst having the competitive opportunity of “owning” that device SEO algorithm.
As an FYI: iPads are generally considered to utilise the desktop format due to their large and high resolution screens although it is known that some sites, such as Ipad.groupon.com, have designated iPad sites.