Written by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth SEO Services

Credits: (Continued from Part 1)
The following is Part 2 of the coverage of the Search Engine Strategies (SES) New York presentation called “Mobile Search Optimization” by Cindy Krum of Blue Moon Works, Gregory Markel, President of Infuse Creative LLC and Rachel Pasqua, Director of Mobile Marketing at iCrossing.

Part 2: Mobile Site Optimization
The question remains; how should you optimize a mobile web page? All of the presenters provided tips, but Cindy Krum’s presentation provided the majority of information. I listed a blend of the tips from all presenters below:

  1. Make certain that no information is located more than 3 clicks from the home page
  2. Organize the page so the main content appears first on the page followed by the navigation. For most this will seem counter intuitive, but by laying out the mobile page in this manner mobile users will see the content they want faster and thus know they are on a different page; versus seeing the same navigation listing again if the navigation was at the top – which would look the same across all pages. In addition, mobile users want to avoid scrolling as much as possible so having the content first will offer better visitor retention.
  3. Organize your navigation in the most logical fashion. In other words, place what is likely to be the most popular buttons first using text links, followed by the others in order. In addition, make certain to word the buttons clearly and succinctly to use as little screen real estate as possible while applying good call to action principles.
  4. Offer a sitemap so that spiders and users alike can quickly navigate the mobile site if need be.
  5. Keep the filenames for the mobile pages short and keyword rich.
  6. Do not use pop-ups, frames or Flash because these are likely to block mobile browsers, not just search engine spiders.
  7. Optimize mobile pages for short keyword phrases since mobile users tend search using up to three words in a single phrase.
  8. Rely only on the textual content, not on images, objects or scripts because they may not appear on handheld browsers.
  9. Minimize file size for faster content loading.
  10. Use optimized heading tags wherever appropriate. Just like standard web pages, properly optimized Heading Tags play a significant role in search engine algorithms.
  11. Test and validate your mobile website to ensure maximum effectiveness for both users and spiders alike. Here are some options that Cindy Klum provided in her presentation:
    Simulators: Skweezer, Google,
    Validators: .Mobi Validator, W3C Mobile Web Validator
  12. Conduct a traditional link building campaign specifically for your mobile website. Do this by submitting to local and mobile directories and getting links from other mobile websites. Also, purchase text links from other mobile and traditional websites.
  13. Announce to the world that your mobile website now exists through press releases. This will add bonus backlinks to your website.
  14. Offer social book marking and tagging functionality to your mobile website.
  15. When a user clicks on one of these phone numbers their mobile phone will immediately connect them to the number.

    Include your main website address in the footer of the mobile page and make your phone numbers clickable using the following sample syntax:
    < href=”tel:2503851190″>250-385-1190< /a >

    Note: eliminate spacing immediately beside brackets for the code to work.

Other Tips from the Mobile Optimization PanelAmidst discussion and the question and answer period there were a few great points that I felt were worth adding to this summary:

  • If you choose not to use a .mobi domain as your primary address for the mobile website then you should still purchase the domain and forward traffic to the alternate address. In this way, you will at least protect your brand. As an added note, I would strongly recommend using a 301 redirect from the .mobi to the main address if you decide to follow this path.
  • Google offers a transcoding system that will attempt to change any website into a mobile website automatically. It was universally agreed on the panel that depending on transcoding to provide your mobile users with a mobile-friendly website is a very bad idea.
  • According to Gregory Markel, approximately 17% of mobile traffic comes from users navigating directly to a URL. As a result, it is strongly recommended that your mobile URL is very simple to remember and easily typed in (no too long or difficult to spell).
  • The current best source for mobile user statistics is http://www.mmetrics.com/
  • Google produced a (PDF) Mobile Search Behavior study that Gregory Markel mentioned was an excellent source of information.

I will end this synopsis with an apt quote that Rachel Pasqua began her presentation with:

“… it’s really not a matter IF the mobile phone will become the dominant internet platform any more but WHEN…” – Yahoo! analyst Russell Beattie