Mobile SEO presents both an opportunity and a challenge for SEO experts conversant in desktop SEO – here are the key differences.
There is debate amongst search engine optimization experts as to whether there is a difference between mobile SEO and traditional SEO. Best SEO practices apply to mobile search but there are nuances savvy webmasters need to be aware of when optimizing sites for portable devices. While content is still king, brevity runs a close second with an emphasis on site speed and architecture. Here are ten factors to think about when it comes to mobile optimization.
Usability guidelines differ for mobile users as opposed to using a PC or laptop for search. A website must meet user’s expectations and needs very quickly featuring fast loading pages with mobile-friendly layouts including smart navigation, easy-to-read content, large call to action buttons, minimal images and cleverly positioned links. If loading times are an issue, this is an opportune time to address the problem. Use this online tool to test how mobile-friendly your site is.
Search Engines are better at indexing desktop sites that use Flash technology but it still presents a challenge. However, with mobile SEO, this is an even greater concern as popular portable devices such as the Apple iPhone do not support Flash – this means that it will not render properly on these devices. Companies such as Sportsgirl whose desktop site is Flash-based has built a mobile-specific site to counteract this problem.
Search Engine Page Rankings (SERPS)
There is always an emphasis with desktop SEO to reach the top of the SERPS but with mobile search it takes on an even greater importance. The limitation of mobile-specific platforms is that the screen generally only allows for approximately five results as opposed to the usual ten. People searching via a mobile device are likely to only scroll down the first page of results and only move onto the consequent pages if time permits.
Due to the time-sensitive nature of using portable devices, mobile users will have a tendency to use shorter keyword phrases than long tail keywords. Predictive searching such as Google Instant helping to generate concise search queries that have higher relevancy. They also have a propensity to use keywords that are location based such as ‘Bondi bars and pubs’ and usually use geolocalisation* to find places nearby.
On page optimization such as descriptions, title tags, URLs/file naming, alt tags and other meta data must be on point with mobile SEO. As time is at a premium with mobile users, they are more likely to bounce off a mobile site than a desktop site if their user intent does not match what the site offers. Less is sometimes more with mobile search so make your meta data keyword friendly and short, sharp and to the point.
By the very nature of mobile devices in that they are portable; users may be in transit and have a very short attention span. Mobile users will be scanning the text even quicker than their desktop cousins so good use of titles, bullet points, short concise paragraphs and internal linking is essential. Keep the copy tight, focused and impactful with good use of call to action buttons (see below) and imagery only where appropriate.
Call to action (CTA)
CTAs are always important on desktop sites but on mobile sites they are an even bigger priority for webmasters. People using portable devices are often in transit so they need large visual clues to be nudged into action and improve your conversion rates. A rule of thumb on a mobile site is that big buttons generally work better than text and a click-to-call system is a necessary option for mobile users.
Link building strategies
Link building is equally important for mobile SEO as well as desktop SEO. However, with mobile search, you need to focus on mobile-specific Search Engines, directories and portals such as Google Mobile and Yahoo! Mobile, mobile forums, mobile social bookkeeping, and so forth as well traditional desktop sites to build your link profile. Best practice SEO still apply as the websites need to be quality, credible and relevant.
The jury is out on whether it’s better to use .mobi domain or traditional domain names like .com or .com.au for your site. There is no research to support that a mobile-specific URL name will rank better. As portable devices evolve, desktop SEO sites will render better and possibly only one will be required. It may be better to use the same URL for desktop and mobile sites: users will not have to remember two different URLs.
Mobile XML Sitemap
If you have decided upon developing a mobile-friendly version of your website, you should create a mobile XML sitemap. As per a desktop site, when the sitemap has been created, add the site to Google Webmaster tools and submit the mobile XML sitemap. This will also assist Google and other Search Engines to recognize and index the pages as mobile-compatible – thus improving your mobile SEO.
Space is limited on a mobile device so make every pixel count. SEO Works is a boutique SEO agency with a full-service web development team, business analysts, link analysts and copywriters that works with high profile clients every day to optimize their websites for mobile search. Contact them for more information about their mobile SEO strategies and how they can make your website more accessible to portable devices.