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Mobile Website Marketing and SEO

More and more people are now using a Blackberry, Ipod or other mobile phone to view a website or search the web while they are out and about. That might be to find the address of where they are going, price compare while shopping or even to cheat in pub trivia.

While it is not yet the majority of people, nor could it yet even be called mainstream here in Australia, it does exist, and it will only increase. Research recently conducted in the US showed that of a sample of 1,000 mobile users, around 70% used it to access the internet.

As the web continues to become an integral part of our life and technology continues to push forward increasing the capability of mobile devices, the number of people using the internet away from their desktop is only going to increase.

What does this mean for businesses and site owners? Well, not only do you now need to consider how you can build a mobile-friendly version of your website (desktop-style sites are often impossible or inconvenient to view on a mobile device), but you also need to start considering how your website marketing efforts will have to be different for this new media.

Google and other search engines now have mobile versions of their sites, which make it easier for people to read the results on the go. The thing with mobile search is though, the rankings are now taking new parameters into consideration, such as your sites suitability for the mobile user.

There are a range of differences between mobile and desktop users of the internet, which will affect both your PPC and SEO campaigns. For example, keywords will likely be shorter and more specific in mobile search than on a desktop. Usability will obviously be different.

Visibility of the top 10 ranks will be compromised. Requirements of mobile devices are different. Even measuring the activity of mobile users is a new frontier – there are tools out there which can measure mobile searchers, but maybe your analytics tool won’t be one of them.

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.

One of the main differences between desktop and mobile 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 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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March 6, 2009 - Posted by | Search Engine optimization

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