In a follow up article to my previous post explain the difference between a mobile app and a mobile website I will now go into the details of performing search engine optimization (SEO) on a mobile website.
Comscore have calculated that there are 2.2 billion searches on Google mobile, whereas yahoo has 0.55 billion and Bing has 0.5 billion. There are expected to be more mobile users than PC users in the year 2015. So if you are not moving with the mobile trend and your product or service is not available to a mobile audience, you are losing out on a huge market.
Mobile websites, just as any other website need SEO to successfully get people to find it using a mobile search browser. Currently Google have 99% of that market as per ComScore (October 2011 results). All phones currently search using the Google mobile search engine no matter if they are android or apple devices.
There are a total of over 3 Billion local search queries a month showing that if your business is based on selling a local service such as a restaurant to hot dog stand, locksmith to local hairdresser, it pays to be able to be found ‘locally’.
You have to remember that there are many types of mobile devices which all come in different screen sizes and all run off different operating systems. There are many variations of smart phones such as Samsung, HTC, LG etc that run an android operating system. Then there are the apple iPhone models that run an iOS operating system. Nokia runs a Symbian operating system on its phone. Of course BlackBerry uses its own operating system called BlackBerry OS as well. Each operating system (OS) effects the functionality of the website and its display on the phone. Whenever building a mobile website, this needs to be taken into account and other factors such as device screen size, speed, etc.
Some general rules that you can stick to when developing a mobile website are:
- Remove Flash
- Keep similar colors and branding as regular online site
Of course many website platforms such as WordPress have taken developments of mobile usage into account and most WordPress sites work on all phones successfully. But many flash based sites such as wix do not work at all.
Redirect or use new domain or subdomain?
There is much discussion as to whether to create a new domain such as www.yoursite.mobi and place a mobile site there or to use a subdomain or subdirectory of the regular online site. I strongly suggest using a subdirectory of a current site meaning your regular domain www.yourdomain.com/mobile/ and using an auto redirect to direct mobile users to the subdirectory (best called /mobile/). The other option of using a subdomain such as http://m.yourdomain.com isn’t as good for utilizing page rank, but it is better than a totally new domain such as the .mobi domains. Using a subdirectory as mentioned above allows for all the SEO strength (i.e. Page Rank and Link Juice) and index page history that the regular online site has, to be translated and shared with the mobile site so it ranks highly on search engine results pages (SERP’s).
Does Google only index and list mobile sites in its mobile SERPs?
No but it does discriminate and give better results to mobile sites. This is why if you follow all of the SEO suggestions listed in this article you will successfully have your mobile website ranking highly and receiving good amount of mobile visitors because it will be optimized for mobile users.
There is still a need to build links, make it easy for your site to be shared on mobile devices etc but if you use the suggestions in the article above, you will have a major head start. Ensure your business is also listed in as many local directories as possible such as google maps, yelp, foursquare, facebook places etc to name the main ones and industry specific places like tripadvisor for hotels for example.