Mobile SEO is often treated like a very different animal when it’s compared to the more standard SEO practices we’ve come to accept when creating online content. Now that you’ve started to master search engine optimization practices for the Internet, it’s time to master a whole new skill named mobile SEO. How does it differ, and how do you use it to make your mobile site a success?
Mobile Web Sites
Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and many, many other sites you find on the Web can also be found on the mobile Web — mobile-enabled versions of the sites you’re probably already familiar with using. There is often a distinction between mobile sites and their computer-viewable counterparts. For instance, Google has two versions of itself – the one you’ll find on the Internet, and the one you’ll find on the mobile Internet.
There is often a distinction between mobile sites and “regular” Web sites, and this is misleading in a way. Though many sites choose to create a mobile version of themselves (mirror sites), it’s absolutely possible for mobile as well as computer users to find the exact same Web sites even when they’re using two very different types of devices.
Now, all you have to do is learn how that works, and learn how to apply the principles of mobile SEO to a site that might already be rich in standard SEO. Sound confusing? It doesn’t have to be.
Many, many mobile Web sites are written in a code called XHTML, which is sort of like a simplified version of the HTML which is commonly used to create Web pages on the Internet. The domain .mobi is often used for mobile sites as well.
Here’s what you need to know: it’s not absolutely necessary that you have a .mobi domain or a site written in XHTML to create a strong and striking online mobile presence. Sites under the .com domain (and all the other extensions you might obtain) can be found just as easily by mobile search engines. However, it is best — though not mandatory — to use the XHTML code when creating mobile pages. This simply makes pages a bit more accessible for a larger variety of mobile users, making it possible for a wider audience to find your mobile site.
Learning XHTML, or converting pages of your site to this language, doesn’t have to be a difficult or drawn-out process. There are many online tutorials which will help you learn, create and convert XHTML code as needed. One very user-friendly tutorial at w3schools can help you learn more about XHTML and how it’s used on the Web, both in mobile- and computer-based versions.
The right code isn’t all it takes if you want to achieve mobile SEO for your site. Remember that mobile users, the same as computer users, visit a search engine when they’re hunting for something specific on the Internet. You want these people to find your site whether they’re accessing that search engine from their home computer, traveling laptop or mobile device.
If you have an online presence, you should already have search engine optimization in place on your existing site. Now, how do you add mobile SEO to your existing pages?
First and foremost, make sure your site is definitely open and available to mobile search engine scans by the mobile search engines. When creating pages for the Internet population at large, you include a special META tag that makes your pages available to search engines for scans when users enter keywords. When you want recognition from mobile search engine scans, however, you have to take an extra step that doesn’t involve any sort of special coding at all.
You have to let those search engines know that you’re ready to receive mobile traffic, only you don’t do this through a special tag. The most-used mobile search engines at this time include Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL Mobile — not surprising, considering these are among the most popular sites used by computer Web surfers. Want to gain their attention? Then you’ll have to submit your site to get it.
Yahoo (http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/mobilesubmit) provides a user-friendly link that allows you to paste your site’s URL right into a blank box. Hit submit and you’re ready to start receiving mobile Web traffic from Yahoo. This sounds simple, but remember that you may have to take special pains to make your site viewable (and attractive) to mobile users. Once you’ve submitted, however, you can focus on a larger goal: mobile SEO.
Google (http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/topic.py?topic=9346) offers a good deal of reading material to help you make your site ready for their mobile search engine, including directions to help you submit a site for their scans.
But submitting your site to the major mobile search engines is only half the battle when it comes to mobile SEO, isn’t it? Now that you’re using the right code and ready to receive traffic, it’s time to make sure your pages are optimized both for the mobile and the “regular” Web. It’s time to learn the secrets of mobile SEO.
Here’s the good news: there’s nothing new to learn. Mobile SEO, insofar as keyword usage and content stylings, is really no different from the search engine optimization practices you’ve probably already learned to adopt to boost your Web presence and Internet traffic.
Every piece of content, such as blog posts and articles, should revolve around two main keyword phrases which consist of two to four strong keywords. You’ll want to include keyword-rich titles and subtitles with every piece of content, images with captions that are equally keyword-focused and a few links that highlight important words and phrases.
In this, mobile SEO and standard SEO vary not at all. Keywords are still king, and content is still the placeholder for those all-important phrases.
Take care of the technicalities of mobile SEO, and you might already be done with the work. Keep basic SEO practices and principles in mind no matter what type of online content you’re creating, and your site will be optimized for computer and mobile users alike.