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Top 5 things to know for an effective China Mobile SEO

February 20, 2017 |   Dandan Cheng

With the growing competition in PPC, i.e. search engine marketing in China, more and more businesses have become aware of the enormous potential in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), on both desktop and mobile devices. Here we show you how to do an effective mobile SEO for Chinese search engines and capitalise the opportunities from 695M mobile internet users in China.

The ultimate goal of SEO, regardless for desktop or mobile devices, is to provide high-quality content for search engine users. Therefore, most of the SEO rules for desktop, such as keywords deployment, website structure, URL and navigation design also work for mobile site optimisation. The main difference lies in special user experience required by mobile search users. Next, let’s look at the most important five things to China Mobile SEO.

1. Understand difference between independent mobile sites and responsive sites

Independent mobile websites are designed and developed specially for mobile phones; responsive sites are designed for a multitude of devices across desktop and mobile with different screen sizes, and they automatically adjust the layout of their content to the available screen size.

Responsive sites save the maintenance cost and efforts on content and feature because they support a variety of devices with a single implementation. But their development cost is higher than that of independent mobile sites due to the complexities.  Moreover, because the responsive websites typically adjust themselves to fit for the much smaller screen size of mobile phones by shrinking or hiding the contents - all the contents will still be loaded, their loading time tends to be longer and their access slower.

If it’s an independent mobile site, when mobile users input the desktop site URL, it’s critical for users to be automatically redirected to mobile website URL.  Similarly, when desktop users for whatever reasons wrongly access the mobile link, they should be automatically redirected to desktop site.

For a responsive website, it’s critical to be able to detect different types of browsers and respond with the appropriate version.  Related codes also need to be programmed to indicate different search engines that this URL is fit for both desktop and mobile devices, so search engines will be able to crawl and index the contents for mobile devices.  

Both independent and responsive sites can achieve the special user experience requirements on mobile devices, however, they both have pros and cons. Whichever route the companies adopt, as long as you can research and implement the principles on mobile-usability optimisation, you will be able to satisfy the mobile search users and align with their search behaviours.


2. Optimise the on-page contents to ensure an easy and pleasant browse-and-click

Mobile user experience is one of the most important parts of mobile SEO in China.  Whether or not it’s easy to browse and click particularly influences directly on mobile user experience. Many specific details are worthy of attention.  Below are some highlights:

  • Select appropriate font size. If the font is too small, users will have to zoom in to read, which is not mobile-friendly. It is particularly so for Chinese characters as they are visually more complicated than English letters.
  • Avoid page roll left-and-right. Page roll-up or roll-down is usually necessary, but it is very inconvenient for mobile users if they have to roll left or right to read the whole page.
  • Reduce the ads. On desktops, too many ads will directly lead to a negative user experience; and it’s even worse on mobile devices, and will frustrate users.
  • Design navigations and the links in contents easy to click. A visually distinguished CTA button with button size appropriated adjusted, more space between words and bigger line spacing all contribute to a better mobile user experience. The reason why ad click rates on mobile is much higher than desktop is not because mobile users love ads, but because they misclick too often.
  • Optimise titles and meta descriptions concise. Remember that you are working with less screen space when a user searches using a mobile device. To show off your best work in SERPS, be as concise as possible (without sacrificing the quality of the information) when creating titles, URLs, and meta descriptions.
  • Simplify functions. It is not as easy to fill out a form on mobile phones as on desktops, so simple and clear-cut displays and designs, and reduced steps will make operation a lot easier for users.

3. Double up display to improve the content exposure

  • The plugin such as Flash may not be available on your user's phone, which means they'll miss out on all the fun. If you want to create special effects, use HTML5 instead.
  • Check if there is any built-in popup on the page that requires compulsory APP downloading or login in order to see the content? This is one of those key malpractices Baidu Ice Bucket algorithm is intended to combat.
  • Don’t block CSS, JavaScript, or images. In the old days, some mobile devices couldn't support all of these elements, so webmasters of mobile sites blocked one or all of the three. But that's no longer true for the most parts, and the search engines want to be able to see and categorise the same content that users do. Don't hide them. These elements are also critical for helping search engines understand if you have a responsive site or a different mobile solution.

4. Trim down unimportant contents and functions

Two or three navigation bars at the top is very common for desktop Chinese website design, but it is obviously inappropriate on mobile phones. A common practice is to trim down the navigation system on the mobile version, including top navigation, bread crumb and side bar. If main navigation is entirely retained, it has to be folded and unfolded when users click it. Five or six top navigation bars at most if they do appear. And a hamburger menu is a popular and pleasant mobile browsing experience easy on the eyes.

Likewise, footer, related readings, tag links, among other contents frequently seen on desktop pages, need to be minimised on mobile phones. This can also help increase page speed due to largely trimming down HTML codes.

5. Accelerate the page loading speed

Because of hardware and connectivity issues, page loading speed is even more important for mobile users than desktop users. On top of your efforts to address the issue on desktop website loading speed and stability due to Great Firewall, further for mobile experience, you'll want to optimise images, minify code, leverage browser caching, and reduce redirects.

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