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Think Search: Mobile Site Optimization

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Search engines are a fast, easy way to find information about the specific topic you are looking for right now. The amount of information and the rate at which this information is added to the Internet is the major catalyst for driving users to search engines. It’s also why search engines have adopted the concept of “real-time search.” Real-time search is officially live with the launch of Google’s latest update called Caffeine. Caffeine incorporates real-time indexing (meaning once a page is visited by the search engine “robot”, it is immediately available for display in results). This real-time search feature includes blog updates, news, Twitter, Facebook, images, video and mobile content.

Search is one of the top activities users perform when they are online. In March 2010, more than 15 billion searches were completed according to comScore. But now search engines aren’t just for people browsing the Web on their desktop or laptop computers. They are also used by people browsing on mobile devices.

The growing mobile market

Mobile Web adoption is growing fast, with the rapid uptake in smartphone adoption in the United States. According to a recent study from comScore, there were 45.4 million people in the United States who owned a smartphone from December 2009 — February 2010. This is a 21% increase over the three-month period ending in November 2009.

Due to the increased number of smartphone users, the adoption of mobile Web browser usage is also on the rise.

What is mobile SEO?

With people doing more Web browsing — and using search engines — from mobile devices, it’s important that mobile sites are seen by mobile search engines. That takes mobile search engine optimization (SEO). Good mobile SEO ensures that a site developed for display on mobile devices is optimized for performance within mobile search engines.

Google, Yahoo, and Bing (as well as other search engines) have a separate index for their mobile search results. While they are largely looking at the same criteria, there are some subtle differences that mobile search engines look for when crawling and indexing for the mobile Web.

Mobile SEO looks at and optimizes key factors that play a major role in mobile search rankings. These factors include:

  • Mobile URL structure
  • Mobile site title/meta tags (differentiate — don’t duplicate — from your standard site)
  • Mobile-friendly content dissemination (easy to read/crawl)
  • Page load speed (very important for mobile Web)

Why is mobile SEO important?

Taking a look at the search volume trend for health-related queries during the 12 months from July 2009 to June 2010, it’s obvious that mobile search activity is growing. While the sheer volume is a fraction of what happens on standard search engines, the trend is increasing significantly — especially in the recent history. The escalation of mobile search usage has been tremendous in recent months, far surpassing any type of growth that can be expected on other search channels.

In the above chart, mobile search volume was just beginning to be monitored in July 2009. Over the course of the 11 months following, the overall trend of mobile search engine activity has increase by nearly 300% (based on the selected queries entered). With the rapidly increasing uptake in smartphones, this trend should be expected to continue to increase.

In addition, there’s currently not much mobile-optimized competition within the pharmaceutical industry. With the relative lack of competition, the opportunity exists for someone to lead the charge and become an example of how to do it right. For example, there are 35 million diabetes-related searches in a given month on desktop search engines. The competition is high. However, there are few such diabetes-related pages within mobile search results that have an optimized site designed to display well for mobile users. Jump in while the coals are still warming up!

Keep mobile SEO in mind when developing mobile-friendly sites to ensure you’re giving consumers what they want. For help working SEO into your mobile site development and marketing plans, contact your Intouch representative or e-mail getintouch@intouchsol.com.

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