Do you remember when we all thought it was the year of mobile? Yeah, that's right, last year...and the year before that...and the year before...well, you get the picture. I've been hanging out in New York for SES this week, and I wound up at the airport commiserating over crazy travel schedules with my friend Cindy Krum who has quite literally written the book on mobile marketing: "Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are." It just hit the shelves a couple weeks back, so go grab yourself a copy and get the full experience. All I have for you today is some tips and pointers that Cindy passed on to me over a couple of hamburgers and sodas.
Tip #1: Mobile platforms
Some of you may be using or considering using an existing mobile platform to serve your mobile content. While these platforms are convenient, there are a few things you need to be aware of.
First, some of these platforms will give you a subdomain on their Web site to serve your mobile content, like you.them.com. Do you see the problem? That's right. Your mobile Web site is really their mobile Web site in terms of how the search engines are looking at links. The search engines will be crediting your link authority to someone else, and you'll never be able to take that "link juice" with you if you ever move your mobile site to your own server or to another platform.
Tip #2: Google mobile bot
Did you know that Google has a totally different bot that crawls mobile content? Well, now you do. It's called Googlebot-Mobile. This means you can help ensure that Google does not get flummoxed between your mobile site and your main site -- and do something inconvenient like think you have a bunch of duplicate pages and start messing around with your rankings.
What I like most about there being specific mobile crawlers is that you can detect them on the way in and serve up the appropriate content to them. It almost feels a bit naughty -- but it is a perfectly acceptable way to manage your Web site.
Tip #3: Test again and again
Buy a bunch of mobile phones, or start asking your friends, neighbors and strangers on the street if you can check something on their phone -- all to makes sure that your mobile content is rendering properly and that you are detecting all the mobile browsers as they access your site. Like everything else in SEO, you need to test, test, test.
Tip #4: Navigation
Allow people to move back from the mobile version to the regular version of the site. There are a lot of phones that render Web sites decently these days, and some people are simply more comfortable with a format they are familiar with. Often with mobile sites the navigation is below the content and it's accessed by scrolling or jump links, which some people find confusing or annoying.
And let's call this sub tip #4.5: make your mobile sites as simple and easy to navigate as possible. You're not trying to make a fully functional smaller version of your main site. You want a simple scaled down version that provides only the essentials to your users.. That's why you provide the link back to the full version, right?
Tip #5 Watch the Flash
Keep these tips in mind as you're building the mobile version of you Web sites, and you'll be well on your way to providing a great user experience -- along with a site that can be understood by the search engines and place appropriately within the mobile search results.