Mobile Search Optimization

Dec 5, 2006 - 5:22 pm 6 by
Filed Under SES Chicago 2006

Mobile Search Optimization

Moderated by Danny Sullivan

Jason Prescott from Red Door Interactive. Talks about some stats related to mobile. By 2010, over 300 million will be using mobile phones and PDA’s. The five big verticals of mobile: Consumer Package Goods, Fast Food, Entertainment, Travel, and Financial. Two industries we do not want to forget about however are gaming and adult. Says these are going to be “rather explosive.” Talks about a couple examples of using cell phones to search.

Mobile search engines: the short list: G, Ask, AOL, Technorati. How users optimize their URL’s. At G you can enter a URL to optimize any site for mobile viewing using … He also showed a couple other examples but is going through slides quickly… Mike Davidson goes over four aspects for Mobile Compliance. First is to create a mobile subdomain….and more at . W3C has a good mobile compliance section at This is a “meaty file,” but an excellent source of good information. Mobile optimization is all KISS. Regular SEO tactics do apply. You should limit your content.

Talks about getting indexed. Says Google and Yahoo are the main engines to focus on to start with. G provides a mobile sitemaps system through its Webmaster Tools area, and Yahoo has yahoo Mobile Submit.

Cindy Krum from Blue Moon Works. “Making the most of Mobile.” How to optimize existing site for Mobile. Many aspects of mobile optimization follow traditional seo wisdom. We need to speak about device independence also…recommends a device independent (see An optimal mobile experience -= more traffic = better search results.

What is different about mobile? It is an industry in its infancy. A lot like the Internet when it was first growing, you have to pay attention. :Less traffic = traffic is more important. There is a great opportunity to get into top rankings early. There are different bots/crawlers than traditional search. They will evaluate site as if being rendered on hand held technology. Also, there are different browsers…a multitude of browsers are used in mobile.

Code best practices: it is vital to code site in XHTML. Traditional browsers are forgiving and Mobile not. XHTML has rigid accessibility standards that make it ideal for mobile. You should avoid unnecessary code because handheld has slower download time. Separate content from design with CSS. External CSS is ideal for mobile for multiple reasons. It separates content from design for easy updates. Minimizes the code required to render pages. Decreases download time (external versus embedded). Ensures correct display on different screen resolutions. Allows you to specify rendering based on the device.

Have two style sheets: handheld and screen. Put traditional one first. Used the display: none” to hide elements in either rendering. For examples a lot of people want to hide advertising. Use the element to attach style sheets –some handhelds will not recognize otherwise. Use appropriate headers combo of http user-agent, http accept, and UAProf. Use appropriate Mime type as well

Navigation best practices: organize buttons logically. People will not learn your site, so make it easy on them. Name buttons clearly and try to use same navigation on each page. Use good calls to action. Include text links for the main navigation on the page. Have a sitemap (and submit to G Mobile Sitemaps), and make sure everything is no more than 3 clicks from the homepage. Make navigation appear below main content. On mobile platform, nav could be rendered in it’s entirety. Change the order of the source code to place the nav at the bottom and use the CSS to render where you want on a screen. The mobile browsers will usually place them below. This keeps the more optimized content at the top. Easier to see you have reached a new page.

Use optimized “jump links,” (aka bookmarks that use the pound sign) in lieu of main nav at the top of the page. Hide these on traditional site with CSS. Use optimized links in this format with keywords in it. Shows an example of the good and bad, with header, jump links, content, then navigation being the desired rendering order.

Basic best practices: follow all seo best practices. SEO is super relevant for mobile, and more strict adherence will lead to better success in mobile. Interchangeable elements = more bonus phrases = more chance to rank for shorter keyword searches. Submit to mobile SE’s. Send confirmations. TEST with mobile devices and device simulators such as Opera, Skweezer and Google. Validate site with mobile code checkers such as W3C. Begin a traditional link building campaign. Offer an RSS feed for mobile readers. Purchase text links. Consider mobile PPC with Google. Offer social tagging and book marking icons. Mention mobile in press releases. Embrace the flexibility of mobile sites – provide information to people that are mobile. Make phone numbers clickable…which allows for the phone to make the call if clicked on. Offer “send this page” links. Shows a good versus bad example.

Gregory Markel from Infuse Creative. He will speed through his presentation since a lot has already been adequately covered. 34.6 mobile web users as of June 2006. 81% are using XHTML browsers. Shows a study from that shows the top 10 Mobile SE’s right now, with Google out front. There are not only differences in browsers, but also handsets. The usual are the most limited browsers in terms of capability. The #1 is openwave. Nokia was second, and Blackberry and Treo were down at 6 and 7. Shows more stats…

The big find of his research for this talk is a study: He feels that finding user experience that goes wrong will help to better the overall user experience. Avg number of words in queries on cell phones 2.3 or 14.5 characters. Avg # of words per query on PDA is 2.7 of 17.5 characters. 17% of queries are URLs. Users average 29-36 seconds scouring search results page. Number of clinks per query average is only 1.7. If a user did not find a result the first time, they often stopped and went elsewhere, assumably to search.

More stats from the Google Mobile Search Study (search for it :p). The PDA based query statistics are different from device to device, which makes things “even more interesting” in terms of who you are trying to reach. Key conclusions: PDA/Cell Phone/browser user behavior and technical capability completely different from each other. G Mobile search will automatically render websites to be a better mobile experience. If you haven’t done this yourself, G will do it for you. There is incentive thus to create mobile versions of the site. You can use the additional visibility and presence on various directories to increase linking benefit for overall site. There is an early mover advantage within G mobile search, since they do feature mobile sites at the top. Also, G offers the ability to see only mobile sites.

Again, site needs to be XHTML and compliant to be accepted into G Mobile index. It does seem that the same SEO rules apply, however you have a lot less to apply them to., The ideal user experience for mobile to be almost unbelievably minimalist. It is really a text based world. Fast page load and other factors will mean for best user experience. In mobile environment, very few people scroll down search results. Macro media does make a mobile version of Flash, but most handhelds do not support it. He recommends that most compelling message largely appears above the fold. Remember that most people are only typing in 2-4 word phrases. Remember that bad user experience can “do you in very quickly.”

Last is Paul Smith from mPulse Media. They started in Mobile and then incorporated search marketing aspects. They saw an opportunity to develop important communities and the role they can play in creating the content that search crawlers like. Create content for communities = search results increase. Will go through a couple case studies. The first site is WapTags (their’s) and then a client’s. Most important question: “What is the key thing that the site offers to a mobile audience?” Talks about WapTags user demographics. Predominantly male in their 20s. 30% in India, 20% USA, 20% South Africa, 5% UK,5% EU, and 20% other. When they launched, they didn’t have anyone in the community.

To build community, they used AdMob, which he feels is a fabulous portal for PPC traffic. AdMob puts a link to your mobile sites on other sites. The goal was to get people to talk about popular topics. They got a spike in traffic, after G Mobile found them, to close to 10K a day. Why did they come through? One of the things they have is a “bunch of links.” It is a user generated directory of mobile sites. People are more likely to simply click on a link instead of actually typing things into the mobile browser. Thus put up a list of what others have found useful. Do the work for the user. This also does the work for the spider or crawler.

They also provide classifieds, another example of things to click on. They found that by creating the community, the community-generated content played a huge role in getting the attention of SE’s and brining a larger audience in. So next they made a mobile device plugin that allows for the community aspect to be brought in to another mobile site. Again, the secret value in this is the increase in content to draw SE’s.

Quickly went over Zoo Vision. Their goal was to drive up page views by having visitors entice each other top send longer on the site. Trying to entice users to comment and chat on a topic, and then the SE’s pick up those comments and feel that it may be a good place for further information about the topic. People have an insatiable desire to socialize with each other, as well as to sort of “voyeuristically browse” others’ profiles as well. The results were more page views. Final thoughts: users and spiders click everything and type nothing. Social, social, social, and adult content. Don’t be surprised by dramatic fluctuation in visitor levels. Offer other services…this is a young ecosystem with some infrastructure. Offer CPM and CPC advertising, and create/offer plugins for the benefit of the community.


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