Are You Making These Seven Dumb SEO Mistakes With The Mobile Version of Your Website?
You're only getting a fraction of the traffic you could be getting if you just rely on the "desktop version" of your website. Not only should you have a mobile version of your site, you should consider doing some SEO so that you can be found on mobile devices. With that said, don't let your SEO company sell you worthless services, and don't make these dumb mistakes:
Mistake #1 - You decide to build a ".mobi" TLD version of your site so that you can be indexed and ranked.
Why It's A Mistake: A ".mobi" domain name is an extension that you can buy in addition to your ".com" domain extension. This ".mobi" extension is supposed to help you rank well in Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. However, there is no evidence that this extension benefits you at all.
In fact, there is some evidence that shows that Google has more ".com" websites indexed than ".mobi". If ".mobi" helped you that much, then you would see more mobile sites indexed and ranking when you use your smartphone. In fact, you should see ".mobi" sites ranking higher on your smartphone, but you don't. This is easy to verify for yourself. Whip out your phone and search for something. Count the number of .mobi sites you find in the search results pages.
Mistake #2 - You add Metatxt to the mobile version of your site because you think it's necessary.
Why It's A Mistake: A metatxt file is a ".txt" file that works similar to a "robots.txt" file. It's just a text file that is added to your website. The theory is that it's supposed to help you rank better in the mobile versions of search engines. Here's the rub: Google and Bing don't even recognize the metatxt file, and those two search engines account for 99 percent of all mobile searches. Sorry, but this so-called SEO strategy won't help you.
Mistake #3 - You spend a lot of time and money on validating your website's code.
Why It's A Mistake: It makes sense to think that your mobile site has to be HTML valid in order to rank well. You've probably heard the cries from your SEO company that your site needs to be validated according to W3C standards. There doesn't seem to be strong evidence that your mobile site benefits from being validated.
In fact, this only seems to hold true for the feature phone index. When it comes to smartphones, validation doesn't really matter. Take any mobile site you can find. Try to validate the code on the site. You'll probably find that almost 80 percent of mobile sites will not validate or will contain many errors, yet these mobile sites rank very well in mobile search engines. A little experimentation on your part will bust this myth wide open.
Mistake #4 - You spend a lot of time and money on building a sitemap for your mobile site.
Why It's A Mistake: Mobile sitemaps are good for indexing feature phone content, but again, these things just aren't necessary. According to Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller, mobile sitemaps won't help your ranking on mobile search engines.
Now, this doesn't mean that you should include them. They can be very useful as a usability feature, helping people to better navigate your website. Like website sitemaps, a mobile sitemap can add structure to your site, and they do help you get more unique content indexed but that's about it.
Mistake #5 - You make a carbon copy of the desktop version of your website because you believe that handheld CSS is good enough for mobile users.
Why It's A Mistake: There is a school of thought that says that you should format your website so that it can be viewed on all types of devices with CSS. However, if a mobile site uses mobile-centric information architecture and keywords to create and develop content for a smartphone user, then the site will always be better optimized for the mobile user. If the site's designers just reformat the desktop content for mobile use, then the user may not benefit as much or at all.
For example, if you're a business that offers emergency services, you may want to create a mobile site that makes it easy to get the help you need from a smartphone. Reformatting your large desktop website to fit on a mobile device may break your site, make it difficult to navigate on a small screen, and prevent your site users from getting the information they need, given what they would use the site for.
What this means, in plain English, is that if you run an insurance company, like State Farm, you should format your website so that people have easy access to roadside assistance from their mobile phones, since customer service and claims phone numbers are what most mobile users are searching for on their mobile devices when searching for the branded keyword "State Farm." Don't believe it? Use a good keyword research tool to discover this for yourself. See what people are searching for on their mobile phones. This will clue you in as to how to design the mobile version of your website.
Mistake #6 - You believe that mobile search queries are shorter so you target short keywords.
Why It's A Mistake: Forbes ran an article this past December about how search queries are shorter on mobile devices, but that doesn't make it true. It's amazing that these guys will publish something without checking out some key stats first.
Google's own internal research from 2009 tells a different story. Search terms are technically shorter on mobile devices when compared to normal computers, but only by a hair. Google's study shows that average search query lengths are 2.44 words on mobile devices and 2.93 words on computers. Here's a shocker: iPhone users have search queries that are 2.93 words in length, on average - the same as for normal computers.
A study conducted in early 2011 showed that longer queries had a higher probability of being typed than shorter search queries. Go figure. Forget what your SEO company tells you about optimizing for short keywords. Users are using long search terms.
Mistake #7 - You don't bother designing a mobile site, or you design it poorly, because you think that no one uses their mobile device to search the Internet.
Why It's A Mistake: In 2010, Steve Jobs claimed that "search hasn't happened on mobile devices." He was wrong. Google's own internal study shows that about 29.6 percent of searched on the Internet originate from mobile devices and that 77 percent of smartphone owners use search while only 68 percent of people use apps on their phone. The point Jobs was trying to make was that people use apps instead of browser-based search, but this simply isn't true. It's not just Google, though, that reports high mobile search number. Yahoo reports that mobile search makes up about 20 percent of their total search queries.
If you've hired an SEO company to make a mobile version of your site, make sure that you understand what they're doing. Don't let them waste your money with unnecessary SEO. If you're doing all of this yourself, keep things simple. Use basic SEO to optimize the mobile version of your site, and tweak it so that it's usable for mobile device users. That's it.