If you have been reading the previous articles on Search Marketing Standard about the mobile web, you may have decided to take the plunge and invest in a site designed specifically for mobile devices. Although these pieces on the basics of mobile websites and best practices for the medium gave lots of hints and tips, this article is going to touch on a further additional mobile web point – how to optimize your mobile website and serve Google with enough information to have your site appearing prominently in relevant search engine rankings.
Whether your mobile website is in the design stages or already up and running, consider factoring in some of these search engine optimization strategies…
1. URL Structure
Just as in traditional search engine optimization best practice, the URL structure for your mobile website is an important consideration. If you have a mobile website, you likely have a www.yourwebsite.com domain and a similar mobile.yourwebsite.com address for your mobile web presence.
Mobile users familiar with your site may type in the desktop domain but would then be redirected to the mobile domain when accessing from a mobile device such as a cell phone, smartphone or tablet. You can redirect users and Google’s Mobile Bot from the traditional URL to the mobile URL using a 301 redirect. This ensures that Google and your users are both looking at the appropriate domain for mobile content usage.
2. Keywords Should Be Shorter
After years of SEO professionals lecturing that keywords are all-important, that a good campaign features short and longer tail versions, and that a certain density and placement are critical to success, it’s time to unlearn all that you know about keyword usage. Mobile web users have very different goals and expectations, not to mention a vastly different web browsing experience. With smaller screens, likely less time, cell phone keypads in the place of keyboards and primitive pointer devices, the search engines are switching on to the fact that less is more in the mobile web.
Google has previously estimated that the average keyword search on a mobile device is just fifteen characters long. Few characters mean that you really need to have a very good grasp of keyword selection and then, integration into content. The shorter tail terms are likely to bear the most fruit, but as they are also likely to be more generic, may require a longer time commitment.
Working longer tail phrases in to mobile site copy is still important, but during the content creation process remember that mobile search queries are shorter, giving less scope to work with.
3. Location, Location, Location
Mobile web users searching on their cell phone or other mobile device are likely to do so to serve a specific need, such as finding a restaurant in the vicinity of their current position. Factoring in location is critical in mobile search as those pages close to the user’s geographical position are likely to appear higher up in the results and generate better conversion rates.
If your mobile website is tied to a physical location such as your shop in San Jose or your take-away business in San Francisco, it pays to focus on the area in your content. You can apply a lot of your traditional local search optimization learnings here, such as including address and zip code on relevant pages, factoring town or zip into page descriptions and page titles and including area codes in phone numbers. Your mission is to reassure the mobile web user that you are convenient to their location to emphasize this as much as possible.
4. Include A Sitemap
A sitemap is an SEO basic, as it forms a blueprint of your domain, allowing search bots and users to navigate through the various pages with confidence and ease. Google supports multiple site map formats including news and video specific – now you can add mobile to that list.
Creating a mobile sitemap is similar to creating a normal XML sitemap — simply list the pages on the mobile domain with the addition of the <mobile:mobile/> tag.