Top 5 Facts to Know About Mobile SEO - Page 2

By James A. Martin
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3. But wait: You still might want to make your site mobile-friendly.

Traditional cell phones -- such as a Nokia phone running the Symbian OS -- don't play well with websites designed with desktop browsers in mind. If a large percentage of your visitors are trying to access your site via traditional cell phones, you may need to build a mobile-specific site for them.

Alternatively, you can create a custom Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) file that serves specific instructions to a mobile browser, so that your site will render to your specifications on traditional mobile phones as well as smartphones.

But as more people transition to smartphones and tablets, your job becomes easier. You don't have to redesign your site or build a mobile-specific site in order to have your content render well on a smartphone or tablet.

In most cases, modern smartphones and tablets are capable of serving up desktop-browser-optimized content in a readable, usable fashion, "so there is no real need for mobile-specific effort from webmasters," according to Google's Webmaster Central blog.

That said, it might make sense for your content to be formatted differently for smartphones and tablets -- not so much for SEO purposes, but to improve the customer experience and to increase the likelihood they'll make a purchase or take a desired action.

For example, compare the home page of Amazon.com on a desktop browser versus the same page viewed in Safari on an iPhone. The desktop version recently focused on an open letter to customers about Amazon's Prime Instant Video announcements. The home page also has a sidebar full of links to best-selling products.

At the same time, the mobile version of Amazon's home page is significantly stripped down, with a focus on user recommendations and just a handful of links. Amazon is making, wisely so, an assumption that mobile surfers are more inclined to buy, while desktop users might be more open to receiving information they didn't actively seek.

According to Google, 90 percent of smartphone searches result in the user taking action, such as buying online or visiting a business in person.

Some desktop-browser-optimized websites have been redesigned to be iPad and tablet-friendly. To get a sense of this trend, compare The New York Times home page, which is packed with images, articles, links and ads, to its Op-Ed landing page, which is much more streamlined. As tablets grow in popularity, expect to see more sites optimized for viewing on mobile devices as well as desktops.

Not sure how your current site looks on a small device screen? On Nov. 1, Google released an online tool, GoMoMeter, which shows how your site looks on a mobile browser. You can also find a mobile site developer using Google's tool. For $25 a month, Mobile Moxie offers online tools for keyword research, mobile website emulation, mobile search engine simulation, and more.

Also, if you built your small business website using WordPress.org, there are many free plug-ins that will automatically optimize your site for viewing on mobile devices. To browse them, go to your site's Plugins page, click 'Add New' next to Plugins, and do a search for iPhone or other mobile devices. Learn more about WordPress.org with "How to Build a Small Business Website with WordPress."

4. Take action: Get a local business listing on Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Many mobile browser searches are local in nature. To make sure your business shows up in a mobile device search, you should claim your free local business listing using Google Places, Bing and Yahoo. Read "Web Marketing: 10 Tips to Optimize Your Google Places Page" for more information.

5. Siri: Makes optimized listings and long-tail keywords more important.

Ask the iPhone 4S Siri personal assistant a question, such as 'Are there any good sports bars near me?' and it's likely to deliver a list of relevant businesses culled from Google Places and Yelp. As voice-search technology on iPhones, Androids and other smartphones become popular, it will be even more important to make sure your small business has a keyword-optimized listing on Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yelp.

At the same time, Siri makes long-tail keyword searches much easier on an iPhone 4S. (A long-tail keyword phrase is highly specific and contains more than three words.) With that in mind, you might want to create an FAQ page on your site with the questions written as long-tail keyword phrases.

Adding it All Up

Optimizing for mobile devices isn't any different from optimizing for computer-based searches. But as people increasingly perform searches on smartphones and tablets, make sure your site displays well on mobile devices and emphasizes the action you want users to take.

Finally, make sure that your business is listed with Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yelp (if relevant); and that you stay current with voice-enabled smartphone search and other trends.

James A. Martin is an online marketing and PR consultant specializing in SEO, blogging, and social media. He is the author of the blog A Southerner in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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This article was originally published on November 10, 2011
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