Mobile Optimized vs. Directory
There are two types of mobile websites: a mobile version of your website tied to your domain, and a duplicate mobile website on a different domain or within a directory. There are a number of things we must consider when creating a new version of our web presence. Let’s go through them and weigh the pros and cons.
You’ve probably spent years working on your domain authority. The longer your domain exists, the more authoritative it is. Therefore, it makes sense that your mobile website should be on your domain to share its search relevance. If you host it on another, new domain, then it won’t enjoy any of the domain authority your website currently has.
For example, suppose you have 100 backlinks pointing to your domain (www.YourHotel.com). If your mobile website is also hosted on your domain, then those backlinks will point to it as well, increasing its power. However, if you host your mobile website elsewhere, like on a new domain or within a directory, your backlinks won’t help it and you will have to start from scratch.
Google has already indexed your website and ranked it in search. If you publish a mobile website on your current domain, it will keep the same search result you currently have. However, if you publish your mobile website on a new domain, it starts at zero search authority.
The Two Google Myth
There are not two Googles. There is one Google, and the same Google that is used to find your website is also used to find your mobile website. This means that if you create a mobile website on a new domain or within a directory, it will compete on Google with your main website–that is, you’re competing with yourself for search engine prominence. It makes better sense to have one branded presence on the web where you can direct all your backlinks and where you can invest your time, which is optimized for whatever device guests choose to browse from.
Mobile Hotel Directories
When people pull out their phones to search for a place to stay, they go to Google. They will discover whatever result ranks best on Google, which means that if your normal website ranks better than a mobile website you have hosted elsewhere, they will see it first, tap on it and be presented with a poor mobile experience. They may never even find your mobile optimized website if it is hosted elsewhere.
Mobile websites hosted in a mobile directory really work best for guests who already know about that directory, are accustomed to browsing it and who plan to use it whenever they decide to find a place to stay. The more likely scenario is that people will go to Google, TripAdvisor or Yelp, making any third-party mobile directory completely undiscoverable and irrelevant.
Another drawback to directories is that other properties can pay them money to outrank you. The nice thing about Google is that it is free, and they don’t accept bribes to elevate certain properties in search results. They elevate content that they think is compelling, and they have given us tools to optimize our websites to rank well organically. Directories, however, often offer “premium” or “paid” listings, where they charge you more money to enjoy a prominent listing.
Take a look at the directory. How does it rank? When you Google “mobile hotel directory”, does it even appear? When you Google any property plus location combination, does any website hosted within that directory appear? If not, then ask yourself: Why am I paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a premium listing in a directory that doesn’t perform well? Here is one rule of thumb I have always followed concerning directories: if they ask me to pay, run faaar away. There are enough free hotel directories out there, like Wandari, for example.
Subdomain vs. Root Domain
Clearly, the best option for discoverability is to host your mobile optimized website on your domain. The next consideration is whether to publish it on a subdomain (m.YourDomain.com, or mobile.YourDomain.com, for example) or to keep it on your root domain. Many web developers will publish mobile optimized websites to a subdomain that has little-to-no integration with the main website. This works fine in many cases; however we run into issues when it comes to backlinks and bookmarks.
For example, if a guest on a mobile device follows a link to your website from a browser bookmark or another website (say, TripAdvisor), but that link points to a page on your regular website, then they will see your regular website, not the mobile version (this is also true for mobile sites hosted on directories, by the way). If, however, your mobile website is dynamically hosted on your domain, it will detect the device your guest is using and offer up content formatted to that device.
It’s Your Decision
In the end, it’s up to you. It’s you’re website, your brand and you need to do what’s comfortable for you. buuteeq creates mobile optimized websites that are tied to the root domain, so that guests only need to go to one place to find rich, optimized content about your property that is optimized for whatever device they choose to use. Browse the gallery below to see examples, and take special note of their domain.