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The 6 Top Mobile SEO Must-Knows

  |  September 19, 2012   |  Comments

Offer a mobile site with the same or similar content as the desktop site to satisfy those who use mobile devices for some, most, or all of their web searches.


It's no secret: brands and businesses that have mobile websites and apps are a step or two (or more) ahead of the game. Why? Because 31 percent of Americans own a smartphone and one in three would rather give up TV than be deprived of their smartphones, according to ourmobileplanet.com.

But it goes beyond just having a mobile site. Similar to traditional desktop sites, mobile sites, too, need to be optimized properly to perform to their full potential.

The concept is simple: offer a mobile site with the same or similar content as the desktop site to satisfy those who use mobile devices for some, most, or all of their web searches. Sure, there are a lot of overlapping aspects with traditional SEO, but the idea and practice go far beyond that, focusing on true mobile SEO. There are some very important aspects that will help you take charge of your brand's mobile web presence.

    1. Know your brand's mobile audience.
      • Start with your analytics package. Create a custom dashboard for organic mobile traffic to easily identify volume, trends, the devices being used, and, obviously, keywords being searched. This will tell you how many visitors are coming to you via mobile and whether or not it warrants (and financially supports) building a mobile version of your site. Also, what kind of content are they looking for on mobile devices? Should the content be the same? Slightly different? Find out and prioritize accordingly.
    2. Know your site's behavior in mobile search results.
      • Use Google Webmaster Tools to figure out if your site is showing up in mobile search and what it looks like when it does. Know what the top search queries are and which pages (if any) are returning in Google's mobile search results and prioritize accordingly.
    3. Know your audience's mobile behavior.
      • Google's Keyword Tool offers a special mobile-only filter to identify your audience's keyword choices and frequency. Use it to build a model for your audience's behavior when they are on a mobile device - it will likely differ in many ways from desktop.
    4. Know your site's mobile behavior.
      • Try searching for your site on different mobile devices and see how it shows up and performs. Then, use Google Webmaster Tools, GetMoMeter, and PageSpeed Insights to test how mobile visitors (and bots) find and view your site.
    5. Know your content and product offering for mobile users.
      • Figure out if your product offering should be the same for the mobile site as it is for the desktop site, and take into consideration that mobile devices offer a user's location information more easily than that of a desktop site, and those mobile users are often looking for something close to their location.
    6. Know your technical capacity to develop a mobile site.
      • Your site isn't working correctly on mobile devices? You'll need to fix that. Can you build a mobile site? Can you reformat the desktop version to work on mobile devices? Can you use a rendering engine? There are pros and cons to the different courses of action that can be taken. Choose what works best for your brand. Google offers some solid recommendations for mobile-optimized sites, too.

The advantage of properly implementing and aiming your brand's mobile site will certainly become evident when reporting on traffic and conversions after the fact. The statistics speak for themselves: mobile search directly drove 25 percent of all online U.S. device purchases, according to a study by Google published in March 2010. The numbers have only increased since.

Are you willing to pass up optimizing for at least a quarter of your online business?

Crispin Sheridan

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Crispin Sheridan

Crispin Sheridan is the Senior Director, Global Search at SAP. As part of the digital team, he established and leads the search and testing practices at SAP. Crispin is responsible for paid, natural, and mobile search and all online testing. Search and testing at SAP are fully centralized and globally funded and run under a hybrid in-house and agency model.

Crispin has proven that search learnings and keyword insights work hand in hand with social media marketing and together can effectively drive B2B lead generation. Furthermore, the development of the SAP.com Test Lab has contributed significant success to SAP's digital marketing efforts.

A frequent guest speaker at conferences, including SES New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Crispin was appointed to the SES Advisory Board in December 2009. He has also been a guest speaker at the e-Metrics Summit and ad:Tech, and is a member of Google's B2B Technology Council. You can follow him on Twitter at @crispinsheridan and read his monthly SEO column on ClickZ.

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