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Mobile Website Development: SEO, Accessibility And Marketing

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As the number of mobile users and web-capable devices increase, webmasters are scrambling to ensure their sites are visible and accessible by this mobile breed of website visitors. But when you're looking to get started, the whole process seems overwhelming.
So, how do you get started? What are you looking at? How can you make sure every step is optimized and ready to go for future SEO and optimization efforts?

Well, just like learning to read, you need to get the basics right and become familiar with the building blocks, before you can move ahead.


When dealing with mobile accessibility, you're not only dealing with a number of different devices and programming languages, you also have users and web crawlers to consider. Can everyone and everything access all of the important pages? Is everything being indexed properly?


While traditional mobile phones use unique browsers with cHTML, WML, WAP, and other similar programs with limited capability, smartphones are much like traditional browsers. However, some support HTML5 while others do not. Your best plan of action is to find out exactly how users are accessing your site, and if needed, use filters to help users access the best version of your site.


Accessing content can sometimes be difficult for mobile users. This is why many mobile site owners base their websites on specially designed RSS feeds. Here, they'll use shorter words, shorten their posts or articles, and link to additional media and supporting content, rather than including videos, images, and additional text in their main content.


Traditional websites can be beautiful, but 'pretty' doesn't mean effective or useful. And while this holds true for all websites, you have fewer opportunities to serve mobile visitors. Make the most of your website by only including the most important design details and set things up so they're quick and easy to use.


Mobile websites are all about experience. How do users see your website and are they able to get or do what they want to? Take time to test it out. Never assume your website is doing what you expect it to. Tools like Mobile Moxie can help a lot.

Formatting And Layout

Plan your layout by considering what you want users to find on your website, and create paths for them to follow. Keep things clean by clearly defining the various 'sections' of your website. Lay them out in a logical order, and make sure everything is easy to understand and navigate.

Googlebot-Mobile And Crawlers

The secret to great mobile SEO and search starts with serving Googlebot-mobile the right content. Google supplies a list of crawlers, and it also gives webmasters a bit of a 'how-to' that makes this job a lot easier.

Hackers And Security

Just like with traditional websites, security and trust are a huge concern. Do what you can to keep your site safe and hacker-free. Update your software frequently, and if you create apps and fun downloads, make sure you take the necessary steps to keep it secure, including good code. Lastly, monitor your site and business for weaknesses and breaches.


Instead of starting with what you want mobile users to do and see, start with 'user-intent'. Put their needs up-front and center when you create your site structure and design. Then, incorporate your goals into it. In some instances, this may lead you to mix the idea of a mobile site and using an alternative instead.

Jumping Through Hoops

The fewer pages, clicks, and obstacles users need to go through to get to their destination, the more likely they are to convert. If you do need to make users take an extra step, make it as easy for them as possible. For example; when creating a signup-form, make sure the 'hint text' inside the box disappears to make way for the user's information. Keep forms short. Make it easy for users to jump from section to section, etc.

Keywords And Keyword Research

Mobile users simply don't use the same queries they use on their desktop computers at home or at work. Studies show they're shorter, and often contain a geographic modifier. So, take time and use tools to find out what words mobile searchers are using and why they would be using them.

Load Time

Unlike many desktop computers and laptops, mobile phones generally have to deal with a more limited amount of resources. This means slow websites can be excruciatingly slow for mobile users. Therefore, take time to convert your website to increase its speed. Where to start?.. Google Page Insights.


There are two maps mobile websites should consider. The most important is a mobile sitemap. Keep them clean by only including pages that are accessible by mobile phones and make sure it's coded properly, so that it's easily accessible to mobile crawlers. Google has
Secondly, since many mobile users search for information on local businesses, attractions, events, and opportunities, websites should include a geographical map with physical store locations clearly marked on them, as well as the GPS coordinates and physical addresses.


Don't get too caught up in the numbers game (traffic numbers, search result numbers, etc.) because they can often be deceiving. You may only get a limited number of mobile visitors, but they could be generating more income in six months than all of your online visitors put together. And don't forget that not all goals are measurable! Customer loyalty, authority, trust, and branding are important, too.


Far too many businesses are terrified to step out of their comfort zone and do something a little different. Instead of trying to be just like some other site on the Web, stand out, do something different, and try something new and exciting. Provided it's not done with evil intent, the worst thing that could happen is that you learn something new about your audience.


Images may add interest to a website and even help show off your products and services, but they can be a huge pain for mobile users who have to work with limited screen real estate, browser, and processing capabilities. If you really want images on your website, make them small and give users the option to zoom them in or out for a closer look. Facebook has done a great job of this in the past.


Never take statistics, numbers, or what someone says at face value. At least not without some investigating on your own. Why? Every product, business, and target audience is different. As my grandpa used to say, "asking questions is the only way you'll ever really learn anything worthwhile."
So, find out about your business and the mobile world by asking customers and your target audience about their mobile use and how your website meets or doesn't meet their needs. Find out what would make their lives easier. If you rent camping equipment or have a hotel chain, for example, consider having an app created that provides travelers with a list of attractions and events along their chosen route.

Real Estate

Remember that smartphones and traditional mobiles have limited screen real estate. Use this to your advantage by putting the most important content first. Keep it short and make it easy for users to access the kinds of content and information they're looking for.

Statistics And Analytics

Set up your Google Mobile Analytics or other analytics program to track mobile users and find out about what they're doing on your site. There's a really helpful video by Marketing8020 on setting up Google Analytics segments as well.

Traditional Marketing

Traditional, online, and mobile marketing really can work well together, if you think through the processes and aren't afraid to have a little fun. Provide coupons, make use of tools such as Facebook Places or Foursquare, offer deals online that can be used offline and vice versa, or hold interesting contests. And don't forget about QR codes, apps, SMS marketing, and email!

URL Structure

You no longer have to have a unique URL structure for mobile browsers, provided they're included in your sitemaps properly. However, you still want to keep them as user-friendly as possible, include keywords if you can, and try to make them as relevant to the page as possible.
You may choose to add specific referrer strings, but be aware of the complications they can cause when linking back to the page or sharing the content on various social media networks.


Video is a great mobile marketing and entertainment medium, since Youtube apps come standard with many phones these days. You might want to consider creating a special channel that caters to mobile Youtube users, or simply keep it in mind when creating your videos.
Videos on websites are also something to consider because they can eat up a ton of data and often require a lot of time to load and run. To save time and make the site more usable, try making them optional and use a thumbnail to link to the video instead.

Web And Mobile Payments

The mobile payment option may very well be something you want to keep in mind when designing your mobile website or app. You might also want to consider carrying and using it in-store. There are lots of options in this area and more coming available all the time.

YouTube, Facebook, Apps, And Mobile Website Alternatives

In some instances, users just aren't interested in accessing your site through mobile phones and eReaders etc., or, you may find that a mobile website just doesn't provide them with the functionality they need. In these instances, you might want to skip a mobile website and go with an alternative. An app, a different landing page, or even using sites like YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter can all be great for targeting mobile users.
Just be aware: If you center your business around someone else's website, they have the ultimate control, not you. This means you're not in control of outages, moves, changes, and other situations that could change the way you do business.

Zombie SEO And Marketing

I know it's tempting to look at a study or report and think it contains the magical answer, but in reality, following blindly could be keeping your business from reaching its full potential. This doesn't mean you can use them to help form opinions, but use them for ideas and inspiration instead. Try things, test, experiment, and just have fun with your SEO and marketing tactics. You may be amazed at what you discover.

To your success,
Jonny Tyson

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