Open Question Week: Ask Me Anything About SEO

JD Rucker
I know that the "week" is short considering that most of you will read this on Thursday, but I'll go on into the weekend and through next week if necessary. The last couple of months I've been racking up the kind of frequent flyer miles that Jared gets. During that time I've found a rejuvenated interest in SEO best practices, questions about anticipated Google changes, and everything else search related. The doctor's in the house the rest of the week. Ask away!
Eric Miltsch
Hey JD - I'll kick things off for ya. Would love to hear your position on the best way to handle, for SEO purposes, domain structures for mobile sites. My 1st preference is to stick with your primary domain & rely on browser detection to serve up a responsive solution based on the device VS. going with a m. (subdomain) The logic being that you'll maintain the benefits of the existing domain rather than diluting it down by passing it off to the new URL (or even worse, a .mobi) - plus, you'll also have the luxury of creating the best possible user experience based on their device. Consider the difference in usage, eventually the visitor could be browsing from their Apple TV. That experience is much different from a desktop visitor. Thanks man!
JD Rucker
Excellent question, Eric. Your assessment is perfect with one minor point of disagreement. While SEO is a top concern, the different devices, screen sizes, and use of touchscreens makes UX a higher priority in my book. In an ideal world, primary websites are designed for the 7"+ touchscreens so that if you visit from a 17" desktop monitor or a Kindle Fire, the user experience is set for both. Anything smaller should defer as you said to mobile-ready landing page on the primary domain. This can be tricky but it's extremely important, particularly for Bing (though Google won't absolutely declare they don't consider it, leaving most SEOs believing that they do). The 400%+ increase YoY in mobile searches makes landing people on a page they like much more important than ever before. You've got 10 seconds before they bounce from a mobile device (4 seconds from a laptop or desktop), so you'll hurt your SEO a bit if your mobile configuration isn't strong. Again, I must stress that SEO concerns are important but still secondary to me when it comes to mobile. We have to remember why people are searching for cars on mobile devices. Most hardcore research for vehicles is done on fully functional computers, but even that is changing. Today, it's still user experience first, SEO second when considering mobile URL configurations, but it's definitely trending in the other direction and taking heed to Eric's concerns and suggestions now will be imperative in the future. 6 months? 12 months? It doesn't matter. Doing it right before the need to change makes the most sense. Thanks for the question, Eric! Way to start it off with an important one. Who's next?
Joey Abna
I'll take Google Changes for $500 JD. I would love to hear your thoughts about Matt Cutts recent comments at SXSW on an over optimization penalty that would level the playing field for all sites. I think the trigger will be link related, whether that would be too many links from the same C-Block, over use of a particular anchor text phrase or some other linking strategy. I'll hang up and listen.
JD Rucker
Thanks for the question, Joey. In the automotive industry we often live in a bubble (I'm VERY guilty of this). We are all very conscious of the changes that sites like Google and Bing make and we do our best to try to determine how it will affect us. In talking to some of my SEO buddies, they all agree that we have very little to worry about. Localized searches that are relevant won't be affected. In other words, getting 1000 links a month MIGHT be bad with this new system, but what Matt and Duane were really talking about were the SEOs that are getting thousands of links a DAY, hammering their SEO with automated processes and building tens of thousands of spam pages for the sake of search. As always, it's going to come down to quality versus quantity. Nobody that I know of in the automotive industry is doing the types of over-aggressive SEO that Google and Bing will target. A dealer website that focuses on their local area and expanding it realistically through quality-based link-building and content creation have absolutely nothing to worry about. If anything, we'll be rewarded because of the 3rd-party sites that leach onto car dealer keywords to get their massive SEO campaigns, a la the penalty that and got hit with a while back.

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