Recently I had the pleasure to meet Cindy Krum in London where she was doing a presentation on mobile SEO. A truly inspiring speaker, Cindy had some great insights about the world of mobile SEO. In this interview you’ll discover why mobile is important, what tools are out there, and how you can implement mobile into your online strategy today.

Gareth: Why should people be building mobile sites in 2013?

Cindy: It’s mostly to do with consumer expectation. People are really starting to expect that if you have a desktop site that you will also have a mobile site or experience. People are doing much more searching on their phones, so you do not want to disappoint. If someone is looking specifically for your brand too. Brand searches are much more common on mobile phones because people search with intent. So if they are searching for your company and you don’t have a mobile site and they click through to your desktop site and it’s a bad experience, that’s potentially going to influence the immediate purchase decision. Also it can influence their perception of your brand in the long term.

Gareth: What’s the best mobile platform for small to medium sized businesses who are thinking of going mobile?

Cindy: It can depend on how the existing desktop site is built. There are a lot of mobilization platforms out there that you can use, especially if you already use WordPress. WordPress have a lot of mobile plugins that will mobilize pages for you and those can be great. There are some other reasonably priced platforms that will take a desktop website and create a mobile site from it. Usually those are not too expensive. Google has one called GoMo, it’s free and can create an m-dot site for you based on your desktop content.

Or for a fee, there are other ones that are more involved. They tend to cost a maximum of $250.00 a year perhaps for a boxed solution. Or if you’re a big brand or a big company and have millions of pages then you can go with a bigger mobilization platform like a Net Biscuits or something like that. They can create templates for you for every different type of page, and they’ll scrape your content and re-purpose your content and make it ready for a mobile site.

Gareth: How should a business decide whether or not to build a mobile website?

Cindy: By looking at Google analytics you can see if your desktop is getting a lot of mobile traffic. If it’s getting none then maybe you don’t have a concern. But if it’s getting a lot of mobile traffic, and especially if it’s getting a lot of mobile traffic that bounces or leaves very quickly, then that’s a really good indication you need a mobile site.

You can also use that to identify which pages are most in demand for mobile phones, because you can use Google analytics to slice that out and say: ‘I only want to look at mobile traffic’…’What pages did they like the best’? Or ‘What pages are they coming in on search results for’? Or ‘What pages are they bouncing most from, from a mobile search’?

Gareth: Which format does Google prefer when it comes to mobile sites m. (dot) or responsive design?

Cindy: Google has come out and said they prefer responsive design, which makes plenty of sense because it’s much easier on their resources. They can send the desktop crawler (which is a great crawler) and evaluate the site, then they send the smartphone crawler. If you have things set up according to their guidelines the results of the smartphone crawler will kind of piggyback off of the desktop ranking. With m. Google has to index all those pages separately and then has to index the new code. They have set up the rel=canonical and the rel=alternate to join those two pages together. Its much more resource intensive for Google – they say they prefer responsive. That preference might just be a ‘preference’ and not like an Algorithmic preference. I haven’t necessarily seen that responsive will rank better.

Gareth: Why is load time and bounce rate so important for Mobile?

Cindy: For a long time in the early years of mobile, Google was using mobile bounce rate as an indicator for whether or not a site was a good mobile experience. If lots of mobile traffic came to a page and bounced, Google could say – this page is not Google friendly, it shouldn’t rank well in a mobile search result. Load time has a big effect on bounce rate. If pages are very slow people are more likely to bounce, so those two things kind of go hand in hand.

Now the importance of bounce rate and load time in search results goes up and down. Google has always said bounce rate is important, and load time is important. We see that come in and out of vogue to talk about when it comes to SEO. For mobile its bounce is more important as an indicator for the potential to rank, and for the potential to create a conversion and to drive traffic.

A lot of times when people are searching on a mobile phone the search is driving as foot traffic or an offline behaviour. So it’s much harder to track conversions on a mobile site because people search on phones and buy in real life, so you have to use different measures of success. So I think having a good experience, a short load time and low bounce rate is more critical in mobile.

Gareth: If someone wants to learn more about mobile web design and SEO are there any sites or books you’d recommend?

Cindy: I wrote a book called ‘Mobile marketing’  – Finding your customers wherever they are’. I have a blog also, and I write for different publications. I have written for Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land and SEOMoz and I try and publish articles as often as I can.

Gareth: How can people find out more about you and your business?

Cindy: My Company is called Mobile Moxie. There’s a bunch of stuff there about the company with the blog. I also have a toolset there for mobile marketing and mobile SEO.