SMS: If you could choose just one thing, what is the most important area to focus on to make your site mobile-search-ready – keywords, its appearance, linking, or something else?
Cindy: The quickest win for mobile search is to use your existing site and pages. The most active searchers are people on smart phones, and mobile search engines are now mixing mobile and traditional results. Less sophisticated phones tend to get results that are mobile specific, so you have to plan on both scenarios. What I recommend is a three part strategy that involves pushing your tradition traditional site for smart phones, but also creating a good mobile experience for less sophisticated phones. Creating a new site, or even new pages on a mobile sub-domain or sub-directory, will cause a delay in mobile rankings, while the new content is being added to the mobile index and evaluated by the search engines. Instead, use multiple external style sheets to make your existing pages display well on mobile phones, and rank well in mobile search. This is a very basic solution, and there is much more to mobile SEO, but this is a good place to start.
SMS: What are some of the pitfalls companies fall into when optimizing their mobile websites?
Cindy: The biggest pitfall I see is companies who allow their marketing agencies to convince them they need a separate domain and a separate experience for mobile users. In my experience, that is rarely true. Keeping everything on one site is the best for SEO, but I think it is also a really great move in terms of branding, usability, and engagement. It is also important not to rely on just one phone for testing. Websites will look differently and rank differently depending on the phone you are using to do the testing.
SMS: Let’s talk a little about the future of mobile search engine marketing. What are some of the new developments in mobile search that we should expect in the near future? In your opinion, how will these changes affect mobile search marketers?
Cindy: Mobile search engines are getting smarter. They are already looking at what type of phone you are searching on and referencing the results based on how well they will render on your phone. I believe that this aspect of the mobile algorithm will begin to be given more weight, as more and more mobile searchers enter the market, and demand a good experience from the sites recommended in search.
I also believe that geo-location will become more important in mobile search, but I don’t think it will be as seamless as some others are predicting. While I do think that phones should automatically have information about your location ready for use in mobile search, if desired, I think it is important to note that not every search on a mobile phone is for a local business offering. For example, if I do a search for “Monsters vs. Aliens,” I may be looking for a theater and movie times, and that information would benefit from my GPS location. But I may just be looking for a summary of the movie and some reviews, in which case my GPS location will not only be useless, but could be harmful to the result set. I think we will always need some way for searchers to indicate whether they are looking for generic or location-specific results. Mobile search marketers need to keep things like this in mind while continuing to explore ways to get the most out of the new capabilities and possibilities.
Cindy Krum is the Chief Executive Officer of Rank-Mobile, LLC. She brings fresh and creative ideas to her clients, speaking at national and international trade events about mobile web marketing, social network marketing and international SEO. Cindy also writes for industry publications, and has been published in Website Magazine, Advertising & Marketing Review, Search Engine Land, ODG Intelligence, and quoted by many respected publications including PC World, Internet Retailer, TechWorld, Direct Magazine and Search Marketing Standard.
Cindy also served as the co-chair of the SEMPO Emerging Technologies Mobile Web Task Force, and is an active member of the search community. Cindy is passionate about bringing creative online marketing solutions to clients, and working with clients to develop high level mobile and international marketing strategies.