Is mobile SEO obsolete?

As more and more people use their mobile phones to do everything, including search, columnist Bryson Meunier says, it’s no longer possible to treat mobile as a separate niche of SEO.

ss-phone-trash-paperWhen I first started writing for Search Engine Land, President Barack Obama was just starting his first term in office, Lady Gaga was showing her Poker Face, and iOS and Android each had less than one percent of global market share. Just 0.7% of the total internet traffic to web pages came from phones.

Now, Android leads the pack, with 30 percent market share across all mobile and desktop operating systems, and iOS is in third place, with almost nine percent of the available market share.

As of August 2016, 44 percent of total global web traffic comes from mobile phones — a growth of 6,185 percent in seven short years.

People are using their mobile phones to do everything, including search, as Google has long been mobile-first, receiving more searches worldwide from mobile devices than desktops since 2015. Webmasters too, are noticing this, as Google recently reported that 85 percent of content in its index is now mobile-friendly.

Fitting that my first column was called “Has the iPhone Made Mobile SEO Obsolete?” because in this last mobile marketing column, I’m wondering if mobile SEO as a term has outlived its usefulness.

Don’t get me wrong — I was not lying when I wrote in May that you should keep doing mobile SEO, even though mobile search ads are everywhere.

I also believe that the six components of mobile SEO are in some ways more relevant today than they have ever been and that the list will grow and change as certain things on it become more or less important.

Consultants working today, like Cindy Krum, are making mobile SEO seem more relevant than ever, with helpful information on app indexing through Firebase and Android Instant Apps. Mobile SEO is far different from the days when my wife would laugh at me for attempting to search on my Motorola Razr, but it still exists, and it will be around as long as people search on these pocket computers we call mobile phones.

Mobile SEO is just SEO

The problem is not in recognizing that SEO has a mobile component, but rather in treating mobile as a separate thing that is a niche of SEO.

That may have been fine when I was the only idiot walking down the street fumbling with Google on my BlackBerry. But now that we live in a world where most people, regardless of country or industry, are using Google (or Bing, but mostly Google) on their mobile phones instead of, or in addition to, their computers and tablets, mobile SEO is just SEO.

As I’ve said before, if you’re not paying attention to mobile in a world where most searchers are searching from their mobile phones, you’re not doing SEO well.

In my columns, I’d like to continue to help people do SEO well, which is why I’m going to stop talking about mobile SEO as a separate thing apart from traditional SEO. If you’re in the 15 percent of sites Google mentioned that still aren’t mobile-friendly, I’m sorry — but if you haven’t listened to me in the past seven years, I don’t know what else I can tell you.

And frankly, I would rather continue to talk about cutting-edge issues in SEO, whether they are mobile in nature or not. So that’s what I plan to do from now on. This is my last official mobile marketing column, but not my last column in Search Engine Land or Marketing Land. I will just be writing on whatever I think is interesting, including, on occasion, SEO considerations for searchers using mobile phones.

Mobile SEO, then, as a concept is not obsolete. It’s more important than ever now that most traffic comes from mobile. What’s obsolete, I think, is the phrase, “mobile SEO.” At this point, it’s what you call a pleonasm, like wet water or dark darkness. Mobile is so important to SEO that it’s redundant to say “mobile SEO.”

With that in mind, thank you for listening these past seven years as we defined mobile SEO from WAP indexing to app indexing and everything in between. Mobile SEO as we know it may now be just SEO, but I look forward to talking more about it in Search Engine Land and Marketing Land for years to come.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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