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Mobile Website SEO

“The rules of engagement for mobile search are fundamentally different”

Mobile SEO Facts

  • 20% of all searches originate on a handheld device. 22% of these searchers do not own a PC.
  • Mobile searches are growing by 130% annually – Google.
  • 74% of searches that have local intent originate on hand-held devices.
  • 20% of Smart Phone owners do a mobile search once a week.
  • Over 500 billion mobile searches will be executed this year.

Mobile SEO by Mark SpragueIt would be a mistake to think you can use the same content and UI design strategy that you employed for your corporate website to your mobile website. The user experience for a mobile device is fundamentally different from the experience of searching and consuming content on a laptop or PC. To start, the consumer is most likely in transit, moving from one place to another while they are searching for your content. Mobile search is also hyper local, and the most important requirement is to return results at the street level i.e., which gas station is the closest to you is the most important search result.

In addition, the kind of content consumers search for in a mobile setting is fundamentally different as well. Directions, phone numbers, addresses, menus, price checks, product descriptions, sports scores, schedules, coupons, coming events and short articles are examples of content that are of higher relevance in mobile search.

Traditional search on a PC is location aware, but that location awareness is broader and can encompass an entire city or a good part of the state. Those beefy white papers and case studies with complex tables, charts and diagrams are not suitable for consumption on mobile phones. The point here is that your current website’s content strategy will most likely not work in a mobile environment without modification.

Mobile Application vs. Mobile Website

When thinking about your requirements for a mobile website you should consider the implications for developing a dedicated mobile App. Apps come with a downside – they present a more expensive and fragmented approach to targeting customers. Further, Apps create link equity for Apple, RIM and Google, not for your mobile website i.e., you are linking from your website to Apple’s website for a product that you own. Apps are not treated as web pages, and do not currently show up in search results – though this could change one day.

Another issue is that there has been a gold-rush to develop dedicated smart phone applications over the past three years with over 900 thousand of them available in the top Apps Stores.

  1. Apple – 500K+
  2. Android – 250K+
  3. Nokia – 130K
  4. Blackberry – 20K
  5. Windows 7 – 9K

Call now for free consultationDespite the large numbers of Apps available, consumers by a small margin still use mobile browsers more than dedicated Apps to access the Internet. Further more, 25% of the Apps that have been downloaded have been used only once and then discarded (Localytics report). Think about it – do you need a dedicated application to access news, check the weather or find restaurant information? No, these are all functions that a normal mobile web browser can do for you very easily. The important issue here is if you have limited dollars to allocate to your mobile strategy, and if you have a web service that does not have a complex application process, then you should consider putting your development dollars into creating mobile websites, not a dedicated App. Repurposing your current website and content for mobile access will be a cheaper strategy in most cases.

Traditional SEO

The foundation for your mobile SEO strategy needs to be based upon traditional SEO techniques, and understanding the unique content optimization requirements that make a difference when consumers visit your website with a mobile device. Before we get into any content and SEO issues, lets look at mobile search technologies.

Mobile content is found in a dedicated mobile search index, currently with far fewer search results available on average. Though Google will include results from their universal index, they reserve the right to change your website’s presentation to better fit in the mobile device being used for search (Transcoding). These are the top mobile search indexes you should be concerned with.

Mobile content is indexed by a different crawler (e.g., Googlebot-Mobile). This means that you have to identify your mobile site as such using a mobile markup language, mobile sitemaps and special CSS style sheets. You will need two mobile style sheets to render your existing website to support two major classes of smart phones. The following will tell the Google crawler that it is dealing with mobile content.

  • Handheld.CSS
  • iPhone.CSS

Make sure that you validate your CSS  style sheets before you ship to ensure that they render the content properly.

Want to Know More about Mobile SEO?

There are more than a dozen other factors that impact your Mobile development / SEO strategy. For example:

  1. Mobile Markup Languages
  2. Mobile Site Maps
  3. The Meta Text File
  4. Mobile Content Strategy
  5. Rendering Mobile Content
  6. Smart Phone Emulators
  7. Transcoding Websites
  8. Mobile Sub-Domains vs. Sub-Directories
  9. XHTML Code Validation
  10. Mobile Development Platforms
  11. Search Relevancy and Directories
  12. UI Design and Mobile Web Development Best Practices:
    • Design Issues
    • Web Development Issues
  13. Mobile Search Behavior

If you would like to find out more about how the above factors impact your tactical mobile SEO strategy give me a call now at 781-862-3126.

Lexington eBusiness Consulting

About Lexington eBusiness Consulting

Providing comprehensive Mobile SEO services to the Boston community…

Mark Sprague’s 25 years of product development experience, which includes expertise in Search Engines, Information Products, SEO platforms and Social Networking applications provide in-depth expertise to help you refine products and services, and improve your search engine marketing and websites performance by:

  • Developing a superior data-driven SEO strategy for your website.
  • Understanding your customers’ search behavior and normalizing it to your content strategy.
  • Understanding how search engine technology practically impacts SEO and content strategies.
  • Understanding how search technology impacts content in a social networking environment.
  • Developing a superior user experience based on sound information architecture, usability and coding standards.

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Mark Sprague,  CEO
580 Lowell Street
Lexington, MA 02420

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