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Mobile and Smartphone SEO Strategies & Best Practices [INFOGRAPHIC]

With more people performing searches by typing or voice commands on their mobile devices, does your company website need a new SEO strategy? These mobile SEO tips will help potential customers find — and stay on — your mobile site.

Mobile search engine optimization (SEO)

—the art and science of ensuring your content is easily found on tablets and smartphones

First,All those people browsing the Web and using apps on their mobile browsers are often highly motivated to take action—such as buy a product or service from your site. For example, Mobile Marketer estimates that 70 percent of all mobile searches result in user action within one hour. Nine out of 10 mobile searches lead to some action, and over half of the time, it’s a purchase, according to Search Engine Land. Ensuring your content is easily found by mobile users and renders well on their screens could deliver a bottom line boost.

Now, the stick. If you don’t optimize your site for mobile users, you could get left behind. According to Gartner, mobile devices are expected to overtake PCs as the most common Web-access devices worldwide by 2013, while a BIA/Kelsey report predicts mobile local search volume will surpass desktop local search for the first time in 2015

Googlebot-Mobile, a crawler that employs a smartphone user agent to complement its previous mobile phone user-agents. The mission of Googlebot-Mobile is “to increase … coverage of smartphone content and to provide a better search experience for smartphone users.” Google’s embrace of smartphone technology also extends to changing its search results to reflect URLs specifically designed for smartphones, which saves the time of a URL redirect from the desktop-specific page its smartphone companion page.

Google does have Googlebot-Mobile, which crawls and indexes content specifically optimized for feature phones and smartphones in order to serve the mobile user the best content based on the device (feature phone vs. smartphone) he or she is using. Googlebot-Mobile works in addition to Google’s desktop crawling and indexing technology. As a result of Googlebot-Mobile, a Google query performed on a mobile device might receive different search results from the same query performed on a desktop computer

Though this post contains guidelines for mobile SEO, keep in mind that there are always exceptions to the rule and sites should deviate from best practices.

How search engines work

For most major search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo!), the process of cataloging pages for their database consists of three parts:

  • the web crawler, which follows links and sends HTTP queries to millions of sites around the world;
  • the indexer, which stores all of the relevant content in its database;
  • the query processor, which evaluates a user query and compares it to the stored content.

Traditional SEO

The traditional approach to search engine optimization has been to concentrate on keywords, tags and content in order to make a page more relevant to a potential visitor’s queries.

In both mobile and desktop search queries, the search engine query function works in a similar manner, so developers and SEO consultants have traditionally concentrated on desktop development.

How-to-Optimize-for-Mobile-SEO

On-Page SEO Techniques For mobile

As with traditional websites, follow basic on-page optimization best practices on mobile sites: use keywords in your mobile site content, headings, keyword links, image alt tags, and of course, page meta titles. But keep meta titles short: absolutely no more than 65 characters (including spaces), and preferably 45 or less (the display limit in the Safari browser).

Social and mobile go together, so include popular social sharing buttons (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and email) on your mobile web pages to make them easy to share.

It may seem obvious, but make sure your corporate website and mobile website link to each other.

The specific search phrases that people use on mobile devices are often different than those they may use from a desktop. And it’s often easier to rank for popular short phrases in mobile search than in desktop search due to the lower level of competition. So, use Google’s keyword research tool to analyze mobile-specific search phrases.

Page Titles for Mobile

Brand Name | Page Title/Keyword Phrase

Headline/H1 For mobile

As with the desktop versions of pages, you should have a large headline on every page that has your primary keyword phrase on it.

I recommend about 150 words minimum of onpage copy that is targeted and focused on your primary keyword/category for the page(not all text on the page: does not include reviews, product descriptions, etc). For mobile, we still want to have a good block of text, but we should take into consideration the user’s smaller screen. For this reason, I think 50-75 words is a good starting point for mobile users.

SEO Link Building fror Mobile

Get your mobile site listed on popular mobile sites like Google Maps, Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook Places.

Also get the site listed in high-authority mobile directories.

Include your mobile website link in your YouTube channel and add mobile site calls to action (CTAs) within your posted videos.

Think Local and Localisation!Almost half of all local searches performed are done on mobile devices and with that number likely to increase you should make sure that Local search is part of your mobile website optimisation strategy where possible.Inserting the geo-location before the closing </head> of the page is one way to tell search engines where you are and that your location is important. A must is to ensure you have a Google places profile set up for the site. Local search isn’t the only thing you can target with locations. You can target an entire country or region

Technical SEO For mobile

Some sources have suggested that using a single website with responsive design is best for SEO, with a subdirectory approach (company.com/mobile) being second-best, followed by a subdomain structure (m.company.com) and finally a separate top-level domain (company.mobi). However, Mashable more recently reported that the search engines have figured things out and there is no longer any SEO penalty for having a separate mobile URL.

Validate your code. Mobile devices are less forgiving of dodgy code than desktop PCs.

Verify your site in Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools. Create and upload a mobile sitemap.

Follow Google’s recommendations for building mobile-optimized websites.

Following the mobile website SEO best practices above should help your site rank well even in highly competitive spaces. In the (for now, at least) less crowded mobile B2B space, it should really help your site stand out.

URL Structure For mobile

While Google recommends responsive design for mobile, having the same content and same URL for all users; I recommend having one URL that dynamically serves different content based on whether the user agent is a desktop or mobile device.

This is a better solution than responsive design (as a whole solution) as desktop, tablet, and smart phone users can all have very different needs – I think that very few users will make significant and high value purchases on their phone (though they may well do research), but users are very likely to on a desktop and it’s definitely possible on a tablet.

I prefer a consistent URL over m.domain.com as having a consistent URL will consolidate all link equity on one URL and maximize your link equity.

When you use a single URL and dynamically change the content, it is important to use the “Vary HTTP Header”. This signals to Google that the content here changes based on the user agent; as such they will know that the content may be different for mobile and can crawl with their mobile bot as well. Google has provided some documentation on this here (about halfway down the page)

Google has a good overview on implementing user agent detection and redirecting users here.

Helpful “must read”  Resources for Mobile SEO

Mobile Search – Search Engine Land Members Library

Mobile SEO Best Practices and Smartphone SEO Tips

Mobile SEO Best Practices

2 Responses

  1. Chris Simmance
    February 22, 2013

    Great post and nice Infographic! Mobile is becoming more and more important as time goes on and only the savvy people/agencies will adapt quick enough.

    Whilst I agree with most of your points in this post I do think that the best way to go is with a responsive design and to remember the mobile user when you are conducting your initial build and keyword research. If you build one site that suits both needs it reduces the amount of maintenance and reporting needed. You also hugely reduce the possibility that either site will be seen as a duplicate (content wise) of the other site. Not to mention that you would only have one set of pages to link build to.

    Thanks!

    • our.blog.com
      February 22, 2013

      Thanks! Chris ….yes Mobile is really becoming important in 2013

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