Considering the User in Mobile SEO
According to Google, mobile search increased four times faster than PC search in 2010, making it one of the fastest growing areas of technology, whilst the increasing popularity of tablet computing only adds to that prominence.
But whilst an understanding of the technicalities of mobile SEO is important, it’s not as important as an understanding of the mobile user and ensuring we meet the needs of an increasingly savvy audience.
From an SEO perspective, this begins with an understanding of how our audience behaves and what they’re trying to achieve. Development of this understanding must therefore start with an understanding of who the audience is.
Who’s Your Audience?
Consider their backgrounds, their stories, their brand affiliations and their online behaviours. By going beyond logical groupings of audiences and into their motivations, we can begin to consider the search patterns of these users; will our audience be likely to search differently on mobiles or can we simply extrapolate from their desktop search behaviour?
It may be that the immediacy of mobile search means users tend to use more long tailed search queries with a question-type structure. Perhaps they’re further along in their online journey when they come to mobile and therefore we see more brand name searches or deep-linked content ranking highly. Equally, the mobile user may be browsing the web in exactly the same way they would on their laptop or desktop, so what can we understand from this?
Meeting the User’s Needs
Next, how does your content meet their needs? What is it that we have to offer the mobile user that other sites don’t? And, more importantly, how can we structure the content to best meet those needs? Remember, Google will be looking for mobile sites which are well structured and not too busy, so consider the way your navigation is structured and the amount of content you include on your mobile site. For some audiences, that will mean a direct copy of the desktop content onto a mobile platform, whilst for others a whole new site architecture and experience will better suit their needs.
Don’t Forget ‘View Full Site’
Finally, remember that not all mobile users are looking for a mobile website; many may be more comfortable with the desktop version of your website, so always include a ‘view full site’ option within your mobile offering.
Mobile SEO is still a young discipline. For practitioners, we’re still learning how best to gain prominance in SERPs. For the search engines themselves, discovering the ways in which users search the mobile web is an ongoing experiment. For now, the most successful mobile sites will be those which create the most useful and valuable mobile experience for their user; get this right, and the technicalities of mobile SEO will come later.