The mobile market is ever-expanding and in every area. But while mobile apps get most of the attention, mobile Web browsing is still a major factor -- and browsing means mobile search. So, how do you make sure your website and business can be found easily by a mobile searcher? For some more insight into mobile SEO, we spoke with Evan Bailyn, SEO expert and owner of FirstPageSage.com.
So what are mobile searchers looking for? "Normally social, entertainment-related products -- restaurants, movies, books and maybe some light research," says Bailyn. "If you have a very local business, you will want to be on Google Local. Write the name of your business, and type of business." For example, a jeweler will want to include some extra information in the business name, such as 'Smith and Company - Engagement Rings.' "That instantly taps into the relevance algorithms." And while these changes can take up to four weeks, according to Bailyn, "Usually that name change alone will end up on first page."
There are other ways to target mobile users.
"There's a whole niche industry around misspelled keywords," says Bailyn. "Just a little SEO can optimize for misspellings. Even though there's so much auto-correct [on mobile devices], it wouldn't apply with company names." So, make sure your keywords include any variations of your company name, commonly-misspelled industry words or other words relevant to your business such as street and city names.
Keyword opportunities can also be found in subtle differences between mobile and desktop queries. "What I have found is that people will still type in the same queries as a PC, except when there's an abbreviation available," says Bailyn. For example, New York Cleaning Service on a PC search might be 'Cleaning Service NYC' on a mobile search.
Another area making an impact on mobile (and in search results) is social media. Bailyn believes that mobile social SEO will be an important factor moving forward.
"One thing I think is pretty fascinating is that both Facebook and Twitter have been making strides on a hyper-local level. Twitter has announced geo-location feature. You're also going to be able to drill down -- if you're at a Chili's on 72nd street, you can find tweeted reviews of that restaurant on the fly, or what people are tweeting about while at this place.
"Facebook's open social graph is one of the most exciting things to happen on the Internet in a really long time. They're going to make it possible to get recommendations for certain things you like. In the future, you might see something like 'While in this area ... did you know your friend John likes ABC restaurant?' Of course, they will also be serving an ad based on where you are."
In other words, tapping into the social graph is an important part of mobile SEO. The more 'social' people get, the more they will be turning to these networks to find what they need on-the-go. This can include presences on Facebook, Twitter and Yelp, and more mobile-specific applications like Foursquare and Loopt.
Finally, make sure your website is mobile-friendly. For instance, Flash is not supported by the iPhone or indexed by the major search engines at all. So, a Flash-intensive website is going to be be problematic. Make sure your website appears properly on those mobile devices where users are most likely to browse -- an iPhone, BlackBerry and Android-supported device. And remember that users are dealing with a small screen. So, keep your objective in mind and the number of steps low, such as the number of required fields in a mobile-friendly contact form. Or, as Bailyn puts it, "Get to the point."