Is it worth to invest in Mobile SEO ? (Part One)

Is it worth to invest in Mobile SEO ? (Part One)

With over 175,000 mobile websites currently hosted on the DudaMobile platform, we continue to strive to make all websites mobile friendly. We like to see our customer’s websites serve as a useful and effective tool for their business.

DudaMobile has teamed up with AdLift, to help mobile website owners learn more about the benefits of mobile SEO. Over the next few weeks, Prashant Puri from AdLift will be guest blogging about mobile SEO for business mobile websites.

Is it worth to invest in Mobile SEO ?

Gartner predicts that there will be 1.83 billion smartphones compared to 1.78 billon PCs worldwide by 2013. In the next 3 years, virtually all phones sold will be smartphone and according to Morgan Stanley, iphone + ipod touch reached 21 million users in 9 months – it took desktop internet a little over 3 years. These statistics point to the hyper growth of the mobile segment and the consumption of data via mobile phones. Furthermore, search engines are the #1 sites visited by mobile phone users. This brings me to the point of this blog post – if you own a website and are not driving mobile traffic via search, you are missing out on a significant segment of users depending on your category.

Source: Macquarie Capital, March 2011

So how does one reach the mobile search audience?  There are essentially two ways of doing this – 1) buying ads targeted toward mobile devices – PPC and 2) optimizing your mobile websites so that you rank higher on Google/Bing – Mobile SEO. In this post we’ll focus on Mobile SEO.

Since mobile searches are different from desktop searches – in intent, category and frequency – mobile SEO is hence different from desktop searches and SEOs should use the Google’s mobile keyword tool instead of the desktop & laptops tool while conducting keyword research.

Apart from making sure your mobile site is tightly targeted toward mobile queries, it’s very important to have to develop a mobile website that renders and validates based on the mobile markup dialects – WML, XHTML Basic, XHTML MP and cHTM. Dudamobile develops mobile websites that are XHTML compliant – this enables efficient mobile viewing for users and crawling by search engines.

Submitting a mobile sitemap to Google webmaster tool is equally important. The main difference between the mobile and desktop sitemap is the inclusion of <loc></loc> and <mobile:mobile/> indicators – for more detailed instructions check out – Adding mobile URL information to a Sitemap.

Links and link building is equally important if not more – it’s important to drive topically relevant links to your mobile website. If you are a local business it’s all the more important to be listed both on mobile directories (example: http://mobilinks.com/go/submit) and across local directories (example: yp.com) – these local directories signal to Google & Bing that these businesses are local and hence when a user does a mobile search with local intent – these results bubble up to the top of the SERPs.

Other SEO best practices remain the same –

  1. Unique & descriptive title tags
  2. Crawlable categorization and taxonomy.
  3. Interlink appropriately between pages to enable the flow of link juice.
  4. Submit mobile site to DMOZ
  5. Do not use frames or flash
  6. Invest in creating unique content through the site.
  7. Using robots.txt correctly – this is an important one. I get asked frequently if mobile websites should be blocked in the robots.txt file to avoid duplicate content. Short answer – never! Matt Cutts explains this here in this video

 

Lastly, analytics – you should track your mobile website visits and see if all the effort you’ve put in to optimizing your site is paying off ! Also, it’s useful to know how mobile users interact with your website vs. desktop users in terms of bounce rates, page views, conversions etc. Google analytics provides a ton of insight on your mobile user – mobile operating system, device and service provider.

Mobile SEO a fast evolving space, where search engines like Google are investing heavily to make sure they provide the best user experience for their mobile users. As this space continues to advance, we’ll see a greater advantage for mobile optimized website that provides a better more efficient user experience. Small and medium scale enterprise owners should adopt fast if they want to compete successfully with larger brands.

About the Author

Prashant Puri has over 8 years of online marketing experience and has successfully built numerous sites into multi-million unique visitor sites through a combination of SEO & SEM. Prashant Puri is the co-founder of AdLift.com, a niche SEO company focused in delivering search ROI. Prior to AdLift.com, he was Head of Global Search Marketing for Shopping.com (an eBay Inc Company) where he was responsible for increasing search traffic across 3 websites – epinions.com, shopping.com and dealtime.com across 5 countries. Prashant frequently speaks at leading industry events including SMX, SES & Pubcon as an expert in search marketing. If you have any questions – feel free to reach out to him on LinkedIn.

DudaMobile Direct has Launched!

DudaMobile Direct has Launched!

The much anticipated big news is released!

We are pleased to announce the official launch of DudaMobile direct! We are happy to be the first, free, easy-to-use web-based platform that allows even the most non-techie user to easily turn websites into mobile friendly sites.

What’s new?

Along with the attractive, new facelift we’ve given our homepage, we have revamped the dashboard and added new templates. You can still find the famed Duda features which include: one-click conversion of existing website to mobile, auto-syncing between a standard website and mobile site, compatibility with all major smartphones and, as always, professional-looking mobile sites.

What does this mean for Beta users?

If you participated in our private beta, your site(s) created during that period will remain free of charge until next year. We will contact you via email regarding the payment change. Any site created starting August 2, 2011 will be priced according to our payment plan.

We thank you for helping us achieve our mission

The DudaMobile team is fully dedicated to making all regular websites mobile. We would like to thank EVERYONE who has supported the Dudas as we have been working hard to optimize the web for mobile devices.

Mobile Web vs. Mobile Apps

Mobile Web vs. Mobile Apps

You probably already have an Internet website and are now considering to create a mobile website. One of the main questions you might be debating with is whether to create a mobile application (app) or a mobile website. There has been quite a bit of discussion on the web regarding the pros and cons of each of these options.

mobile apps vs mobile web

With the huge buzz around Apple’s App Store and Blackberry’s App World it seems that mobile applications are taking over, but is an app the right solution for everyone? Doesn’t it seem like we have gone back fifteen years and once again being required to install packaged software? An interesting research by Pinch Media shows that less than 5% of downloaded apps continue to be used 20 days after being downloaded.

There are some cases where an app makes more sense as for example: businesses who have a very large and dedicated user base (e.g . Facebook) or solutions that requires special capabilities of the mobile device that are not accessible through the web (e.g. gaming).

But in the majority of the cases businesses and individuals will gain more from going through the mobile web route. The development costs will be lower, the potential market size will be bigger and it will be much easier for people to find your site by using any search engine.

Before making a decision several criteria should be considered. Below I summarized some of the main points to help you make the right decision for your business. Feel free to comment or add to my list.

Mobile App 

Application designed to run on a specific mobile device –  download and installation required

Mobile Website 

Website created specifically for mobile devices – accessible through mobile browsers, no download or installation required

Portability Needs to be developed for each platform (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Palm and the list goes on…) Common platform – some solutions (e.g. DudaMobile) enable you to develop once and run on all web-enabled mobile devices
Hyper Links It is possible to link to an app but since most users will not have the app installed, the most effective way is to link to the download page for this app. It is possible to link from an app externally to other websites Possible to provide links to different pages on your mobile site and to link from your mobile site to other websites
Discoverability Most apps don’t achieve critical success and fade into the world of anonymity. You will need a very well defined strategy to break into the top list for your category in order to make it (AdWhirl estimates $1875 per day advertising budget can get you there , Pinch Media says the impact of being in the top 100 is a daily increase of 2.3x in the number of users) People can find your site by using any of the search engines and via links from other websites, blogs, Twitter and links embedded in emails. A good marketing strategy can definitely increase the number of visitors, especially if it is viral.
Distribution & Market Size At the mercy of the App Store police in regards to availability of your app and approvals to get it in. Requires users to download – huge barrier to entry. 

Limited to the number of users on the released platform

Anyone on the web has access to your mobile site
Usage of Device Capabilities Able to use all device capabilities (GPS, camera, voice, RFID, address book, calendar, etc.) It is possible to use features like GPS, offline data storage and video from within mobile websites using the latest mobile browsers which support HTML5. Access from the web to some native capabilities of mobile devices is still limited due to security and privacy concerns (e.g. access to address book or calendar)
Supportability & Upgradeability Difficult to support and maintain after app is downloaded. Every new release with bug fixes requires to go through the entire approval process of the app store

After new version of application is placed in the store, it requires all existing users to upgrade in order to get it- big barrier

Easier to support and maintain as developer has complete access to the site 

No need to upgrade, all users see the latest version

Entry Costs some app stores charge extra fees for publishing or certifying your app (Apple charges developers $99 and enterprises $299, RIM charges $200 ) None
Revenue Share Need to share sales revenue with the app stores (Apple takes 30%, RIM takes 20%) It’s all yours
User Experience Full control of User Interface Limited to the capabilities of HTML/CSS. User experience will largely depend on how the mobile website is designed
Performance Able to achieve high performance through app code that runs locally on the device Performance will largely depend on how the mobile website is designed
Offline Browsing Possible HTML5 enables it to some extent, but is supported only on selected devices
Better mobile browsers won’t solve the mobile web problem (part 2 of 2)

Better mobile browsers won’t solve the mobile web problem (part 2 of 2)

The Human Touch

A mobile browser is an automated machine that only knows how to squeeze a websites into a small mobile screen. A good mobile solution will have to include some degree of configuration to select and prioritize the content. It requires someone who is intimately involved with the website and understands the business and can make such decisions. There is a lot of clutter in regular websites, usually created by large banners, jumping ads and promotions that just add to the noise and confusion in a mobile device.  Only a human can make the decision what content is relevant and should be “mobilized” and what not.

Poor UI

Now some people might say that the iPhone provides exceptional user experience. I agree that it is indeed an improvement compared to other mobile browsers, but it is far from being optimal. I like to compare the iPhone browsing experience to reading a newspaper in a dark room with a flash light. At any moment you can only see a limited part of the page, usually caused by the need to zoom-in and zoom-out in order to read the text. You wouldn’t agree to read your newspaper like that, so why accept it on your mobile device?

This is something that many businesses have understood and for the reason they have built dedicated iPhone websites (e.g. m.ebay.com, m.nbc.com, mobile.fandango.com) that are very different from their regular internet website. In addition business would like to add mobile specific features like mobile ads, location based services that use GPS functionality, click-to-call etc. All these features are not available on the PC website.

Creating an Optimized Site for Mobile

Creating a mobile optimized site can be a daunting task. You need to think about supporting multiple devices and multiple browsers. Then you get to the topic of maintenance, how do you keep your regular website and your mobile site in sync? And the biggest question is how do you achieve all this without getting into a heavy investment. This is exactly the pain we identified and solved at DudaMobile. Using our platform we are able to build mobile website that are based on your existing website. What that means is that you only have to maintain your regular website. Any changes you make will automatically be propagated into your mobile site. How do we do that? Well that’s the uniqueness of the technology we have developed. The good thing is that you don’t need to care about that. We take care of building, hosting, maintaining and supporting your mobile site. All you need to do is just promote it.