In the past, Google's Matt Cutts has said that the search giant offers SEO advice to “make the web a better experience.” Now, the company is offering webmasters insight on how to prepare sites for mobile screens, presumably to make the mobile web a better experience, and marketers may find that these tips boost mobile rankings.
To start, the company explains that its crawlers differentiate between two types of mobile devices. Traditional mobile phones can't render web pages the way desktops can, whereas smartphones can recreate web pages as they would be found on desktops. Googlebot crawls desktop broswer web pages, whereas Googlebot-Mobile crawls other mobile content.
Since smartphones are treated the same way as the general web, marketers won't need mobile-specific efforts for good website resolution (and, presumably, favorable Google rankings) on smartphones. But marketers will want to prepare mobile-specific content for pages that will be crawled by Googlebot-Mobile. Google gives webmasters a user-agent string and advises them to decide which content best serves phones listed in the string.
Additionally, URL structure doesn't matter for either Googlebot or Googlebot-Mobile as long as the URL “returns exactly what a user sees too.” However, marketers will want to include only mobile content URLs in Mobile Sitemaps.
These tips could come in handy for brands looking to reach on-the-go online audiences this year. Just yesterday, Brafton reported that Pew says mobile devices are Americans' top gadgets, and last week, we covered comScore's Mobile Year in Review, which indicates that mbile marketing reaches a mainstream audience.