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Why mobile is vital for your international SEO

Everyone knows the growing importance of mobile traffic in our domestic market and how Google has launched a number of updates aimed at improving the user experience for mobile users. However, have you considered the importance of mobile for your international audiences?

Internationally mobile browsing figures are increasing worldwide with penetration now over 50%.

Taking a look at your localised international websites there are a number of other mobile focused algorithms from the leading search engines that you need to consider.

Google

Let’s start with familiar ground and recap the Google mobile algorithm. This was launched in a flurry of SEO news stories about Mobilegeddon in 2015. This algorithm is applied to the mobile results in Google and rewards sites by ranking them more positively if they are mobile friendly. Things to look out for with Google are:

• Slow loading pages
• Setting viewports
• Pages which are too small to be read on mobile devices

In 2016, Google also announced it was clamping down on websites which have full screen interstitial ads, as shown in the example Google published below.
mobile-pop-up

Google is also pushing the use of pages coded using the new Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) coding, and activity promoting people in the results who use AMP to display pages quickly for mobile users.

Baidu, Yandex, Naver and Bing

What are the rules we need to comply with when looking at the ranking signals mobile has in each location?

Firstly, Baidu who were the first to the party. Baidu launched the Ice Bucket update at about the same time as Google’s Mobile update in 2014. Ice Bucket aims to make the web more mobile friendly similar to Google’s mobile algorithm, however, Baidu actively punishes websites which aren’t mobile friendly rather than just rewarding those which are.

Some of the rules for Baidu’s mobile algorithm are slightly different and some things to consider for your mobile website in China are:

• Pop Up Windows
• Content hidden behind a Login
• Forced app downloads instead of a mobile friendly website
• Number of ads on the page

Baidu has also recently announced it’s own version of the AMP coding platform. Mobile Instant Pages (MIP) which works in a very similar way to AMP but is focussed on users in China who can’t access Google. At the moment MIP is not affecting the search results in Baidu but we know this is on the cards.

Yandex was the last to the party in terms of mobile friendly algorithms. Starting in late 2015, they began marking results in the SERPs as being mobile friendly and then in April 2016 they launched the Vladivostok mobile SEO update. Like Google, Yandex uses their mobile rules to reward mobile friendly sites. Items which Yandex watches for on websites include:

• Content which doesn’t fit a small screen
• Horizontal scrolling
• Java applets, flash video and Silverlight etc.

Lastly, let’s look at Naver in South Korea. Although, the Naver search engine works very differently from Google, with the search results looking and being influenced in very different ways; when it comes to mobile results, the Naver rules are very similar to Google’s. Things to consider include:

• Allow access to CSS and JavaScript as Naver renders mobile pages
• Responsive designs work well
• As with all Naver website using Korean only

Finally, don’t forget to consider Bing from a mobile point of view, due to the growing number of users who use Cortana, which uses Bing to find answers. Bing has set out guidelines for websites wanting to rank well on its platform. For Bing you need to consider:

• How the menu works
• Font size and readability
• Horizontal crawling
• Mobile compatibility of items such as videos and other elements

Mobile is increasingly important and we only see this trend growing, so ensure that your website is mobile friendly and that when considering redesigns or migrations you work from a mobile first point of view.

If you need help working out how your mobile website is being seen in different markets and improving your mobile rankings, please contact us now.