Even if you consider yourself an expert in SEO, there are certain differences between the behaviour of mobile users and desktop users which have a significant effect on how mobile SEO should be approached. Here are some things to consider when developing an SEO-friendly mobile site.
1. Remember That Mobile Users Have Different Requirements
Web users browsing on a mobile device will inevitably be using a smaller screen and keyboard, but they will also be using different keywords and searching in a different environment. For example, a desktop user is more likely to be interested in browsing restaurant reviews – perhaps they are planning a meal for a special occasion – whereas mobile users searching for restaurant information will most likely be looking for somewhere because they are hungry and on the move.
2. Create a Good User Experience
Once upon a time, the mobile versions of popular websites were usually just the same website but with a lot of the pictures and animated elements taken away, to decrease loading time. If you were browsing on your mobile then you didn’t really mind that a website was just text, bullet points and the occasional icon – you just needed the information as quickly as possible and wanted to avoid high data charges. However, things are very different now, and with unlimited data packages and advanced smartphones, today’s mobile users expect more from their devices – it’s essential that you deliver this. Clunky graphics, slow pages and dramatically reduced functionality will make it unlikely that users stay on your site.
3. Bear in Mind That Mobile Users Search Using Shorter Queries
The length of the search query on mobile phones is 15 characters, which rarely amounts to more than two words. To address this, many mobile search engines make use of predictive search. This is the same behaviour as seen on the desktop version of Google and in Google Instant. This functionality presents a new SEO opportunity – by using Google Instant it is possible to determine target keywords. You can then build a mobile site that targets these predictive search phrases which are related to your business and location.
4. Provide Geographically Relevant Information
Many searches will be location-focused and this means it’s essential to build sites that will rank well for location-relevant search terms. This also means that for retail small independent shop and outlets (eg. Joe’s Pizzeria) have a chance at competing with larger companies (eg. Domino’s).
5. Optimise Your Site for Different Handsets
User agent detection is a form of transcoding that involves search engines reformatting certain elements dependent on the device or browser. For example, an iPhone will display a website differently to a Nokia phone. Sites that can avoid user agent detection will perform better with regards to SEO. By conforming to a more standardized mobile presentation, the site becomes simpler so that it renders well in all mobile devices.
6. Brand Terms are More Frequent in Mobile Search Queries
Research shows that people searching using mobile search engines are much more prone to using brand keywords and those which include geographic terms. This means it’s beneficial for SEO if you build pages and optimise them for relevant brand and location-based keywords.
7. Build Your Mobile Site with SEO in Mind
If you don’t have a mobile site, then this is not necessarily a bad thing. It gives you the opportunity to develop a site from scratch and build the foundations for great mobile SEO strategy from the get-go. Your site needs to be easily accessible, readable and understandable to a search engine crawler that’s even more obsessed with quality and compliance.
8. Use Highly Accessible Code
Upload an XML sitemap, ensure that you fill in the robots.txt file, apply extensive internal linking and, ideally, do not restrict access with forms or passwords.
9. Ensure That Content is Clean, Optimised & Accessible
Use keywords in meta data, headers and text content and also use appropriate keywords in anchor text. For search-critical keywords (eg.’ <service> in <location>’), it’s worth having a page specifically optimised for that term and then bias internal linking towards the search-critical keywords. AJAX or Flash should be avoided.
10. Aim to Conform to W3C MobileOK Standards
Although not designed to assist SEO, Search Engines build their algorithms around these standards. Therefore it makes sense to conform to the guidelines, which can be found on the W3C site.