Mobile Search 101, Part 2

One of the challenges for developing and marketing on mobile devices is dealing with different browsers and how they render the Web. This has always been an issue for developers. Another challenge is the different screen sizes, orientations, and rendering speeds.

Methods for being discovered are also a challenge because there are so many different ways. In addition to location-based search, which we discussed in “Mobile Search 101, Part 1,” there is shopping search, image search, and video search, to name a few.

Let’s look at some tactics you should consider when developing your mobile site to help become discovered.

Mobile SEO

As with traditional and local SEO, the basic principles still apply. Your goal is to provide a good mobile user experience. If visitors get hung up on your mobile site, they simply won’t return or may fail to get what they came for.

Another key aspect to consider is reducing your content to your mobile audience. Ask yourself what a mobile visitor is probably looking for on your site and remove the content that isn’t applicable. A mobile phone isn’t a PC. Design with the mobile phone in mind.

Because mobile is still in its infancy, it’s very similar to SEO in the early days. So nothing is completely certain. Keywords should be few because users will likely be typing with one finger and are probably on the move.

According to Google research, the average query for mobile search is 15 characters long. Normally, this would result in less relevant results. But mobile search engines use a technique called predictive search that essentially “predicts” what the user is searching for and help fill in the blanks, thus providing a more relative search.

For SEO, this means identifying what the predictive search keywords are and targeting those. Adding location and information in your targeted keywords is one helpful tactic. Users on the go are probably looking for information near them, so keep this in mind.

Submit your site to all relevant mobile search engines, portals, directories, and business listings. These are very important sources of mobile traffic.

In addition, submit your XML sitemap to Google mobile sitemaps and Yahoo mobile submit. For a listing of more mobile search providers, see wapSwap or WAPReview.

Here’s a listing of mobile search engines to register with:

Mobile Browsers and Development

As you begin your development efforts, you will want to test on multiple mobile browsers. The ones to test on are Opera Mini, Thunderhawk, Internet Explorer Mobile, Android, Mozilla’s Minimo, Skyfire, and Safari for the iPhone.

These browsers aren’t as friendly as traditional browsers and are obsessed with quality and code compliance. Test each of them and make sure your content renders correctly and conforms to accessibility standards.

Programming in XHTML will also help with this. Many developers also prefer using CSS for page layout for several reasons. It helps with designing for different screen resolutions, minimizes code, and decreases load times.

This, of course, is just a basic article on mobile search to get the wheels turning and help get you started. There are numerous resources to understand more about mobile SEO and best practices. If you have other resources or success stories, please share below in the comments.

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