How to Optimize Your Site for Mobile Search

Posted in Tips, Web Design • Posted on 6 Comments

The amount of mobile devices being used to access the web is increasing day by day. This is good because the mobile market is a whole new segment your site can be getting traffic from, but the bad news is that mobile devices have many specifics, which make them different from PCs and if your site is not designed to be mobile-friendly, then your site is not mobile search ready.

In fact, the specifics of mobile sites are so numerous that you almost always need to design a separate mobile version of your site rather than adapt your current site to mobile users. This might sound like a lot of hassle and it is. So, maybe you are asking yourself, if all the pain to make your site mobile-ready is necessary.

Do I Need to Make My Site Mobile Search Friendly?

It might be strange to ask such a question because the answer seems obvious – since you will be getting additional traffic, you do need a mobile-ready site. However, when you learn how much work is involved in creating and maintaining a site in a mobile-ready state, you might not be that certain anymore that you really need a mobile version(s) of your site.

Mobile devices are very different from PCs in terms of use and in terms of what they display. What is more, there are tens, if not hundreds, of various mobile devices and their capabilities also vary. It is a Gargantuan task to make a site run well (or at least decently) on all these diverse devices. On top of this, making a site mobile-friendly costs a lot and you need to take this into account as well when you are trying to make the preliminary estimates if turning your site mobile-friendly will be profitable or not.

As a result, it might turn out that you can safely skip the mobile crowd. Yes, you are losing visitors but if site is in a niche that mobile visitors aren’t interested in, then even if your site is mobile-friendly, this won’t be much of an advantage.

On the other hand, if your site is about news, stocks, local search, mobile stuff, ringtones, or any other niche where mobile visitors are frequent (i.e. those niches that provide current information on topics of interest to mobile users), then you should optimize your site for mobile search, even if this means maintaining a separate version(s) just for mobile users and the separate mobile brands of their choice. The investment will pay off.

This is why, you need to have a look at your logs and see how much traffic you are getting from mobile devices. Your logs will also tell you the type of mobile devices that are used by your visitors. If the figures are worth the effort, you can proceed and optimize your site for mobile search.

Steps to Optimize Your Site for Mobile Search

Many of the general rules for good mobile design, such as create multiple mobile stylesheets and resizing images are also search-friendly steps because they help to present your site in a more user-friendly manner, thus making it easier for mobile users to find and use your site. However, there are also a couple of other steps to take.

Optimizing a site for mobile search is really a lot of work and if your site is not designed to be mobile-friendly, your efforts might be in vain. Here are some very basic recommendations how to make a site mobile-friendly and increase its chances to rank better for mobile searches. Sure, these steps are not enough but they are a good start:

1. Support as many mobile devices as possible

Cross-browser compatibility for PCs is a piece of cake in comparison to cross-device compatibility for mobile sites. You might hope that there will be universal standards for mobile devices but this will hardly ever happen – at least not in the next couple of years – so you can’t rely on it. Try to support at least the major devices – or even better, check your logs to see what devices and operating systems your mobile users use most and optimize your site at least for them.
This cross-device compatibility is important because even if you rank well in mobile search, when users come to your site and discover that it is practically useless for their device, this will make you look very unprofessional. Sometimes you can “outsource” the job to a mobile plugin, i.e. the WPtouch plugin for WordPress but you still need to check that the final result is acceptable.

2. Keep pages short

The screens of mobile devices are tiny and reading long pages of text is next to impossible. This is why you need to keep your pages short, so even if there is scrolling, it won’t need 5, 10, or more scrolldowns in order to read a single page. This means, that if you want to achieve good keyword density for your target keywords, you need to put them in the portion of the text that fits into one screen. However, be careful not to overstuff the pages, because this will have an adverse effect.

3. Optimize for local search

Local searches are a substantial portion of mobile searches and because of this you need to make sure your mobile version is optimized for local searches. Putting your location here and there in the next isn’t all it takes to optimize for local search but since it is the most important step, do at least this.

4. Optimize for short keywords

Many mobiles have QWERTY keyboards but even these keyboards are a pain when you have to enter long strings. This is why most mobile users don’t bother to enter long strings of texts. Long tail keywords that consist of 5 or more words might bring you traffic to a regular site but for a mobile site many users limit their searches to 2 words at most. Also, you might want to have a look at what predictive suggestions for your niche exist and optimize for them.

5. Avoid heavy graphics and animation

Nobody says that your mobile site must be text-only but when you know that graphics and animation load so slowly and mobile traffic is not cheap, it is much better to make your pages fast to load. Cut animation and leave lean graphics only and your visitors will appreciate this.

6. Put the essential info in a visible place

As I already mentioned, scrolling down is not a favorite activity for mobile users. This means that if you want your essential info to be seen, you need to put it near the top because this is the most visible place on your site. When users come to your mobile site and don’t see right away what they are looking for, they will simply leave rather than scroll.

7. Promote your site in mobile search

If you have made your site mobile-friendly, you can expect that it will become popular among mobile users but still don’t count on this alone. Instead, promote your site in mobile search engines, mobile portals and directories. This can bring you a lot of mobile traffic you will hardly get from the organic results of general search engines. The mobile Web is becoming a system of its own, so take advantage of its potential.

Mobile sites are still in their early stages but as the number of mobile users increases, more and more sites will launch their mobile versions. If you don’t want to lag behind, do your homework and optimize your site for mobile search.

7 Written Articles

I am a fulltime freelancer from Sofia, Bulgaria. I have long ago discovered that freelancing is the best option for me because it allows me to grow professionally as a writer, designer, web master, etc. and doesn't confine me to a 9 to 5 schedule. Ditching my fulltime job (and I have changed so many of them) was the wisest decision I have ever made!

6 Comments Best Comments First
  • Razibul Hassan

    Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 11:07

    1

    Thank you very much for a neatly presented article on “Mobile optimization”. Web designers and developers ( web owners as well) seem like ignore the massive number of mobile user market segments. The mobile users are increasing rapidly and to tap this massive potential market, every site should be prudently optimized for the mobile devices. The issues you listed here in this articles would definitely help customize a site for a mobile viewing and search.
    Thanks for a great article Tsveti…
    Cheers….
    Razibul Hassan

    0
  • IC Web Design

    Thursday, October 20th, 2011 12:23

    2

    the mobile website is pretty much ignored by many designers but you cant argue with the stats huge numbers of people are accessing websites primarily from their mobiles. Great article and advice

    0
  • Morgan

    Thursday, October 20th, 2011 20:35

    3

    I sort agree with IC Web Design too, it’s true that mobile sites are becoming very popular these days and it’s crucial that we start looking into these aspects since this is the future.

    0
  • haier

    Friday, October 21st, 2011 00:08

    4

    Many thanks for posting these useful tips.I will try and incorporate all of them in my mobile site

    0
  • Christina Cruz

    Monday, March 26th, 2012 20:23

    6

    Thank you for the post. I found it very informative and will use the advice when designing mobile sites. Thanks again.

    0
  • Razibul Hassan

    Friday, November 25th, 2011 01:04

    5

    Use a different version of logo for your mobile site. For an eCommerce site customize the page so that visitors can easily checkout a product, share and like it. Let the customers email directly from their mail with out leaving the site. There are a lot to do for a website intended for mobile devices. Compatibility with the market leading mobile devices and browser is a challenge that has to done effectively.

    0
  • Christina Cruz

    Monday, March 26th, 2012 20:23

    6

    Thank you for the post. I found it very informative and will use the advice when designing mobile sites. Thanks again.

    0
  • Razibul Hassan

    Friday, November 25th, 2011 01:04

    5

    Use a different version of logo for your mobile site. For an eCommerce site customize the page so that visitors can easily checkout a product, share and like it. Let the customers email directly from their mail with out leaving the site. There are a lot to do for a website intended for mobile devices. Compatibility with the market leading mobile devices and browser is a challenge that has to done effectively.

    0
  • haier

    Friday, October 21st, 2011 00:08

    4

    Many thanks for posting these useful tips.I will try and incorporate all of them in my mobile site

    0
  • Morgan

    Thursday, October 20th, 2011 20:35

    3

    I sort agree with IC Web Design too, it’s true that mobile sites are becoming very popular these days and it’s crucial that we start looking into these aspects since this is the future.

    0
  • IC Web Design

    Thursday, October 20th, 2011 12:23

    2

    the mobile website is pretty much ignored by many designers but you cant argue with the stats huge numbers of people are accessing websites primarily from their mobiles. Great article and advice

    0
  • Razibul Hassan

    Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 11:07

    1

    Thank you very much for a neatly presented article on “Mobile optimization”. Web designers and developers ( web owners as well) seem like ignore the massive number of mobile user market segments. The mobile users are increasing rapidly and to tap this massive potential market, every site should be prudently optimized for the mobile devices. The issues you listed here in this articles would definitely help customize a site for a mobile viewing and search.
    Thanks for a great article Tsveti…
    Cheers….
    Razibul Hassan

    0

Comments are closed.

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