Here I am, back atop my mobile soapbox. This article is primarily for those of you that have already made the decision to create a mobile web page, or those of you that already have one. If you haven’t made your decision, you should check out my article about mobile landing pages on PPC Hero. It’s relevant to pay-per-clickers and search-engine-optimizers alike, I promise. If you have a mobile site, or are ready to build one, let’s talk about optimizing it for mobile search.
Meta Data, Keywords, and URLs
Firstly, make sure that you are following SEO best practices. Optimize your meta tags and titles as well as your content but keep in mind that these things should be shorter. Mobile visitors don’t have time to sort through as much content as desktop users plus it is packed into a much smaller space. Moreover, mobile results typically only display around 40 characters for titles and, when bookmarked, show 25 or less.
The keywords you use to optimize your site may be different as well. According to Google’s research, the average mobile search query is about 15 characters long, probably shorter than some of the terms you are currently targeting. Google does offer, however, predictive search so even if a consumer only types a few words, they may select one of Google’s longer suggestions. To make sure you’re targeting the right terms, check out Google Analytics to see what terms your mobile visitors are searching and refine your keyword list from there. You can view these terms in Analytics in the ‘Mobile’ section under ‘Visitors’.
For your URL, consider creating a new CSS called handheld.css. You can then edit this CSS to create a mobile web page that will still utilize the same URL as your desktop page. If you do create a new URL, keep it short and sweet because mobile phones are typically harder to type on, in my opinion. Seriously, sometimes I forgo visiting web sites on my phone because it is a pain to type it all out. Also, if you create a new URL remember to submit your sitemap and to utilize your robots.txt files. I’d also suggest submitting your page to dmoz, an open directory that is used as a seeding index for search engines.
When building your mobile page, be sure to use a compliant markup language. I’d suggest using xHTML. I don’t claim to be a web development expert but I know that WML is being superseded by xHTML and for that reason, I expect it will eventually be phased out. Keep the coding simple, you don’t want to slow down the load time. Mobile phones are typically slow at processing and it is painful to sit around and wait on a page to load especially if you are trying to find something in a hurry. Also, please (please, please, please) don’t use flash. Mobile phones don’t support it. Check out this search engine land blog for more information about creating a mobile site and the associated risks.
Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should
iPhones currently pull up the desktop version of web pages but from what I have read, they tend to convert better on mobile websites. I would recommend creating and at least testing a new CSS, called iPhone.css, to see if it converts better. While they can pull up desktop web pages, it is still a much smaller screen than a 13” Macbook, or even an iPad.
The Benefits of Mobile SEO
So many people are utilizing mobile devices to access the web now, the numbers are seriously impressive, and you want those people to find your site. As a matter of fact, those people are probably already finding your site but when they are taken to a desktop site, there is a good chance that they might bounce. You should certainly check out Analytics to determine what chunk of your web traffic hails from a mobile device. With Google’s wallet coming into play, it will be easier than ever for those visitors to make a purchase.
Mobile SEO is also incredibly important for local SEO. Click-to-call and embedded maps are great for this. Take advantage of your resources. If you are a restaurant, a hair salon, etc. make it easy for your customers to find you and set up a reservation or an appointment! Combine your search engine optimization with mobile marketing. Feature exclusive coupons and deals on your mobile site. With the understanding that many businesses interested in local SEO don’t have the pocketbooks for creating a new site, I like this SEOmoz article that offers mobile tips for people on a budget.
Allow me to reiterate some important concepts about mobile pages:
- Put the most important information at the top. If users need to be redirected, quickly and easily allow them to navigate into the space they are looking for. E.g. shirts, shorts, shoes, etc.
- If users must scroll; make them scroll down, not across.
- Make conversions easy and obvious. On that same note, make your submission button functional. Don’t make it too small or put it too close to another link. We all know how frustrating it is to accidentally click the wrong link on a mobile browser and have to wait for it to load or reload.
- “If you got it flaunt it.” There’s so much you can do on a mobile browser: use click-to-call, maps, and location based promotions to your advantage! This is so very important in local S.E.O.!
For more information about mobile best practices, check out my blog on mobile landing pages.
Amy is an Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.