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Stripping back mobiles websites, does this effect SEO?

     
4:12 pm on Mar 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Hi Everyone,

Many people are deciding to remove content from mobile versions of websites in order to a) quicken page load time b) simplify the website. This means in a lot of cases that text, images, headings etc are being removed. Bots use content to 'figure out' what is on a web page, but without this information on a mobile version, will search engines struggle and perhaps penalise the rankings?

Thanks!
5:34 pm on Mar 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld!
will search engines struggle and perhaps penalise the rankings

Yes, the search engines will struggle.
Yes, your ranking may drop.
No, there will not be a penalty.

You will rank lower because the quality is lower. Ranking lower is not a penalty,

You need to research "mobile first" - there's plenty here at WebmasterWorld [google.co.uk]
9:23 pm on Mar 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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>> You will rank lower because the quality is lower.
I've struggled with this question as well. I don't necessarily agree that the quality will be lower by removing some items. My left column navigation is long which is fine on desktop but on mobile it extends the page a lot as the right column gets moved under the content because of the responsive design. I have thought of reducing the navigation column a bit to make things tidier for mobile users.
10:14 pm on Mar 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I doubt if site navigation is "content" from the search engine's point of view. It's the packaging, so to speak.

Still, if Google did regard a navigation column as part of the "content," wouldn't there be an advantage (in terms of SEO) to removing it from the equation, leaving the search engine to focus on the page's distinctive core content?
10:19 pm on Mar 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The web has changed, Google has changed, your site will be judged on its mobile presentation. (Mobile first index)

The question stated as "Stripping back mobile website..." is approaching this in the wrong way. One needs to design the site in away that is targeting mobile users as a priority. Then adapting the design to desktop. Responsive is not enough. This goes beyond just making a page readable on a mobile device. One needs to adapt all aspect of the site to mobile use, from page load speeds, menu layouts and readability. The game changes when users are on a phone, forget about hovers, and title text. Above the fold, no longer really exists. There are many more things like this that all need to be considered when designing a page today. I believe that users ability to interact and engage with your content on a mobile device will be the key to success.

I would go so far as to say that you can almost neglect desktop completely, design for mobile, then just show that on a desktop (within reason of course). Look at Twitter's desktop layout, it is a simple band down the center of large screen.
11:14 pm on Mar 15, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I think Google are making a mistake in prioritising mobile traffic and as a business you should know the facts about who is converting on your website.

Globally:

4.23 conversions come from Desktop
3.59% conversions come from Tablets
1.42% conversions come from mobile

To ignore desktop and design for mobile is to ignore your primary converting audience. Don't follow foolish trends, optimise for your converting audience.

Source: [smartinsights.com...]
12:22 pm on Mar 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@seoskunk the article you linked to is a very interesting. I understand where you are coming from but I don't however agree with your conclusion. There is an inherent bias in the figures, today most mobile sites are designed as adaption of their desktop design with much of the UI stripped away. As a result users are less likely to convert. Lower conversion rates makes e-comms and publishers reluctant to focus on mobile devices despite the fact that most of their traffic is coming from mobile.

This is pointed out in the article you linked under the heading
What are the reasons consumers are less likely to buy on smartphone?

The reasons state are:

- Security concerns
- Cannot see product details
- Navigation difficult
- Can't Browse multiple screens / compare
- Too difficult to input details


All but the first are addressed by designing explicitly for mobile.

Imagine, applying your desktop conversion rate to your mobile traffic. That is the opportunity you are foregoing.
4:43 pm on Mar 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What are the reasons consumers are less likely to buy on smartphone?

Are they less likely to buy on a smartphone, or are they simply more likely to buy via an app? I can imagine that varying by industry and by whether the users are repeat buyers.

Take things like airline tickets and hotel rooms. Tommy Traveler may well have an app for an OTA installed on his phone, or maybe he goes directly to Delta or Hotels dot com when he's booking flights and rooms.

And what about users of the Amazon shopping app? I'm sure a lot of them buy items with their smartphones.
 

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