Mobile websites that duplicate desktop content can work against your link-building efforts. Just like print URLs, mobile pages containing the same content as desktop pages can reduce link equity via duplicate content.

While it’s ideal to have one responsive website for desktop and mobile users, that’s not always reality. There are valid reasons for having separate websites.

If that’s your situation, here’s how you can optimize your mobile website without draining your link equity.

  1. Build backlinks to your mobile site

Your mobile website needs backlinks. If your mobile site serves the same content as your desktop site, you definitely need to build backlinks to your mobile site. Google’s “mobile-first index” update serves up mobile content first in the SERPs. Since mobile sites are being served to Google users, it makes sense to build backlinks to your mobile content.

While some people have speculated that the MFI update penalizes or suppresses non-mobile sites, that’s not entirely true. Google used to maintain two separate databases of search results – one for desktop users and one for mobile users. After the MFI update, results are served from the mobile index first. If there is no mobile version of a page, the desktop version is provided in the SERPs.

In other words, mobile-first indexing only affects you if you have two versions of the same page – one for mobile and one for desktop. When Google’s algorithm encounters two options, the mobile-optimized page will be served up in the SERPs.

Some people have said that desktop link popularity plays a role in ranking mobile sites in the SERPs.

If you’re serving a different website to mobile users on a subdomain like m.yoursite.com, your mobile pages will come up first in the search engines. Now that most of the world is using a mobile device to access the internet, it makes sense to spend some time and budget building backlinks to your mobile site.

  1. Create accounts with business directories

Getting your business seen across the internet is easier when you publish your links in directory listings. However, don’t just link your main site – link your mobile site, too.

Links you generate from directory websites will be helpful in ranking your mobile site.

  1. Try to get your site listed in a “top 10” style article

Getting published in a “top 10” style article is a great way to get exposure in the search engines and get some link equity. It’s not hard to get listed in one of these articles on a popular site. However, you need to do something unique to make the list.

Your site stands a better chance of being listed if you create:

  • Unique content for your industry
  • A stunning mobile design
  • A highly optimized and user-friendly UX/UI
  • A website that publishes shocking content

Read some existing articles that list the “top X” mobile websites, like this list from Hubspot, and see what kind of sites made those lists. See if you can create original content in a similar fashion and then submit your site to the publishers to see if they’re interested in featuring your site.

  1. Switch to a responsive design

Maintaining a desktop and mobile version of your website will get exhausting at some point if it hasn’t already become a drag. If your content is duplicated to your mobile site automatically, it’s not as bad. However, you’ll still spend more time and energy on your SEO efforts than you should.

Consider switching your entire site to a single responsive design that works on desktop and mobile devices. You won’t lose your ranking in the search engines by not having a mobile site. Remember, mobile-first indexing doesn’t suppress non-mobile sites; it just serves mobile content first when there are two-page versions to choose from.

If you do switch to a responsive design, be sure to create permanent 301 redirects for all of your URLs that were previously hosted on your mobile subdomain.

  1. Test your mobile site

Before making any changes, test your mobile site to see how well it performs for mobile users. You’ll get a report that will identify issues and provide suggestions for fixing errors and improving mobile usability.

The importance of testing can’t be overemphasized. Knowing where your mobile site stands is the foundation for mobile site optimization.

Mobile sites are quickly becoming standard

Now that mobile devices have become the standard web browsing tool, mobile site optimization is more important than ever. Optimizing your desktop site is still critical, but it’s time to include your mobile site in your SEO and optimization efforts.