Mobile Search Part 2

In my  post yesterday I spoke briefly about why some businesses need to consider mobile-friendly site design and mobile SEO. Today I will be following up on that post by outlining some of the things you need to consider to make this happen.

To work in the mobile internet market, you need to think about the actual differences between a mobile device and a PC. Then, you need to keep those in mind all the time, from when you are designing your mobile site, to when you are performing SEO on it. The website design rules are dramatically different because of the limitations inherent in using a mobile device to view a web page. The SEO principles for a mobile site are largely similar, however there are a few differences to take note of and a lot of opportunities which aren’t available in ‘desktop’ SEO.

So, what are the differences between desktop and mobile web? Firstly, obviously, there is the screen size issue. Which limits the amount you can put onto a screen and still make it look good. This will limit what you can do with fonts, content, images and other facets of your web page. You might want to say all the same messages but in limited format, or you might want to present only the mobile-relevant content in the space available.

Secondly, there are the usability issues – mobile internet is usually viewed on hand held devices, used one-handed, and usually using a numeric keypad. This limits the amount of typing people will be willing to do and increases the desire for easy navigation.

Thirdly, there is the patience issue. If someone is using a mobile device it is likely because they are on the move or they are looking for a quick reference. It is unlikely that a mobile device user will have the same time and patience as a desk top user.

So what do you need to do to address all these mobile-specific issues? A lot of things, but here are a few action-critical few to get you started…

  1. Make sure you have a mobile-specific site. If you think your customers are likely to use mobile devices to view your site, you want to encourage them and reward their loyalty by giving them a good user experience. This will require specialist design, and lots of testing to ensure that it is being rendered appropriately on the different kinds of mobile devices (e.g. Nokia vs Iphone).
  2. Keyword research – this will be very different to desktop keyword research as you will have fewer characters. Google Adwords has a new feature in their Keyword tool which will help suggest keywords if you are running mobile ads. Also, mobile search looks like it will be heavily influenced by predictive keyword suggestions, (like Google already does) to save on time and frustration for the mobile device user.  Also, predictive suggestions can help you figure out what terms you might want to be optimising for.
  3. Mobile search will depend on location a lot more than desktop search, which means location identifiers are critical in your mobile SEO efforts.
  4. Remember traditional SEO practices like crawlability and links, these are still relevant for mobile search.
  5. Make sure your site is mobile compliant
  6. Record and analyse – use web analytics to track your mobile users behaviour, so you have first hand knowledge of the differences inherent in mobile users. For example, gauge their attitude to your site (page views, bounce rates, content preferences), the sources of your traffic, keywords used and exit pages.To do this you can make an advanced segment in Google Analytics as advised here (not 100% recommended by that author, and I haven’t yet tried it personally) or ask your paid analytics provider to provide this segmentation for you (if possible).

Mobile SEO is a huge new undertaking for any webmaster, and these are only a few of the things you will need to consider when upgrading your site to be usable on mobile devices. I highly recommend that you contact experts to help you with your debut on the mobile internet.

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