At the end of 2010, the number of smartphone and tablet sales together, eventually exceeded that of PC sales. Coupled with the fact that 125 years of Angry Birds are played each day, it is definitely apparent that mobile usage is the way of the future, and with that, the importance of mobile SEO in 2011 increases.

At the moment, the number of mobile searches represents more than 10% of Google’s total search volume, and this number is expected to grow to 16% by September 2011. If you have not included a mobile strategy within your overall SEO strategy, this is the time to start learning, implementing and testing.

There are a number of aspects that you will have to think differently about once you have decided that mobile SEO needs to be an integral part of your overall Search Engine Marketing strategy for 2011. Firstly, mobile users differ from PC users in that they are more task orientated and goal driven, with up to a third of their searches having local intent. Mobile is immediate; users are often looking to find last minute information, again reflecting their intent when searching.

There are three ways in which content can be served to mobile users when users conduct a search on a mobile search engine:

Mobile Site

If a mobile site has been developed, this version of the site will be served to a mobile user, unless there have been issues with the way the site is able to be crawled and indexed by mobile spiders. XHTML code, or compact HTML code should be used to write the pages on your mobile site. You should also be sure that this code is W3C compliant which will ensure that your site is more accessible to as many mobile users and especially search engine spiders as possible. An XML sitemap of all your mobile URLs should also be submitted to search engines.

In terms of Mobile SEO, it is also important to ensure that all pages on the mobile site have titles and meta tags, much the same way that the main site should have. Bear in mind that the keywords users are searching for on mobile devices are more targeted and more actionable than keywords that would be searched for on a PC.

Formatted content

By formatting the content on your website with different style sheets and server side code, you will be able to display a version of the site that will render most effectively on each specific mobile device. Serving specific content to specific devices will increase user experience as well as conversions, and it is an alternative to having an entirely separate mobile site.

Even though smartphones are expected to display desktop content effectively, serving a formatted version to these devices will increase the user’s mobile experience. Google especially, ranks sites according to the value and user experience that it provides to a user. For example, a formatted version will ensure a user does not have to zoom in and out all the time in order to find something on the page.

The desktop site is served

If there is no mobile site, or special formatting for different devices, search engines could serve the main site to mobile users. In this instance though, search engines might modify how your pages are displayed in order to improve the mobile experience for the user. This might not be ideal as the search engine may display your page differently to what you would have liked.

Developing a mobile site, or formatting your content for different mobile devices will allow you to be sure your content is appearing the way you would like it to.

If however you do not have the resources to develop a mobile site or a formatted version, the following mobile SEO points regarding the main site will allow it to be displayed as correctly as possible:

  • Compatible with all browsers
  • Readable in any screen resolution
  • Fast loading times
  • Accessible to all mobile devices and search engine spiders

Once you have your mobile version of your website, make sure to test the effect that it has on your overall SEO and marketing goals. Google Analytics provides statistics on mobile use and devices that are driving traffic. Analysing these figures can provide insight on the success of your mobile efforts.

In 2011, Mobile SEO involves more than just the optimisation of header and keyword tags; it needs to encompass all these other aspects that are going to affect where your site ranks in mobile search results. Firstly, pages that Google deems are not viewable on a mobile phone will not be included in the mobile index.

Secondly, you need to be sure that you are not creating duplicate content, or accidently being seen by search engines to be cloaking your content. To make sure you do not get penalised unfairly, make sure that search engines that crawl your pages are being directed to the exact same pages as what a user would be directed to, whether he be searching from a PC or a mobile device.

Mobile SEO in 2011 and mobile device usage is going to change the way in which SEOs need to think. Google Places Optimisation is another technique that can be used to increase the local exposure of your site on a mobile device. Integrating all these aspects into one sound SEO strategy will increase the overall performance of your Search Engine Marketing strategy.

4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how SEO and content are evolving together in order to keep pace with new developments in user interaction and technology, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and user behaviour across all inbound channels. What could a performance marketing agency like us do for your business?