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Mobile parity: are your desktop and mobile site equal?

You might have heard the term before: mobile parity. With, as a subset of that, content parity. Perhaps “One Web” triggers some kind of recognition? It all comes down to one thing: is your mobile site equal to your desktop site? In this article, I’ll give you some pointers on why you should check that and a number of things that influence the presence or absence of mobile parity.

What is mobile parity?

We talk about mobile parity when we compare a desktop site to a mobile site. Are both similar, or even better, basically the same? Does your mobile site resemble the desktop site, or are there differences? Think about the goal of your website and why it matters so much to have this parity. Let’s go over a number of things that relate to this mobile parity.

Content is king

Yes, content is king. And it doesn’t matter if someone is visiting your mobile site or desktop site. They are looking for specific information or a specific product, so you better make sure content is the same on both. It’s common use to hide some larger images on a mobile device or put some more content behind tabs (which is OK for Google, don’t get me wrong). It speeds up rendering of the mobile content, which will only help both users and Google. But the end result of that mobile optimization should not interfere with the end goal of your desktop site. It’s the same. So in regards to content, mobile parity matters. 

Consistent branding on all devices

Looking at the design of your website, you need to make sure if it sends the same “message” on every device. We’ve seen fantastic desktop sites that have a mobile version that has been very toned down. As with AMP, I don’t mind removing clutter and focusing on what needs focus (top tasks), but both websites need to share the same “look and feel”.

The same goes for, for instance, your page titles. If you have different page titles on your mobile site and your desktop site, make sure they align. If your site is responsive, this will be no problem, but there are still a lot of websites that maintain a separate mobile site (why!?). The same will go for Progressive Web Apps and similar developments. If the content structure aligns with your desktop website, make sure other things align as well. There’s more.

Mobile-first!

If you have no clue what mobile-first means, read up first. If Google starts to rank your website based on your mobile website in the first place, there might be work to do. A lot of website owners, web designers, web agencies etcetera have been creating and selling mobile sites as an extra to a desktop site. “See how this website looks on your computer screen and how it gradually slims down to your mobile device”, will be a sentence of the past.

We need to set up a mobile site that folds out to a desktop site instead. Quality matters, contents matters, design, and branding matter. In Dutch, we have a saying “the soup isn’t always eaten as hot as it is served“, meaning that measures might be less severe than announced. Perhaps Google’s mobile first “threat” isn’t as strict as it may seem, but you’d better be prepared, right. So make sure your mobile website covers all bases your desktop site covers, with the same quality look and feel. Ask yourself: If you wouldn’t have a desktop site, would you still be able to get the same conversion/traffic/engagement results on your website as you currently do?

Internal links

In everything that relates to mobile parity, internal links seem to surface in my mind as a point of attention. We hide things, remove things, change things when making our website responsive. We kill a sidebar, reduce the number of footer links, might even change our menu. All these actions have an effect on the number of internal links a page has.

Internal links influence SEO, just like external links to your website do. They play an important part in setting up cornerstone content and most other content strategies. It’s your site structure that you change with every one of those changes. When Google flips the switch and your mobile site becomes most important, you might ruin that entire structure just because of the fact that your site lacks mobile parity.

It’s not just the visual stuff

Especially when your website isn’t responsive, other issues may arise. How about a 301 redirect on your desktop that is forgotten on your mobile site? I can’t stress enough that I’d still prefer a responsive website over other solutions. It simply makes sure things like this are handled properly. Think canonical links, robots meta tags, etc. You don’t want to go wrong here.

I hope I have given you some food for thought for your own website. Mobile parity is something you need to check every now and then, but definitely now as well, to make sure your mobile visitors and Google aren’t missing out on anything. Prevent that your focus on desktop doesn’t ruin your rankings.

Mobile parity audit

Moz has written a nice article that guides you through the process of a mobile parity audit. Read that article as well and see how similar your mobile and desktop websites really are!

Read more: ‘Mobile SEO: the ultimate guide’ »