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  • Understanding Mobile Search

    Mobile web user requirements are different than those who primarily use a desktop or laptop. You have to adapt your SEO to take into account a whole new mindset, and learn to work within the parameters of this new format. Most webmasters would do well to construct a special version of their site specifically for mobile browsers, building it from the ground up in tandem with their larger site.

    Why? Because a mobile phone is not built like a PC. It’s not just screen size – it’s ease of use and navigability options. In addition, mobile web users search in a completely different way or for markedly different things or purposes than your average computer user. The mobile web is a whole different kind of animal – a brave new world, and those with the foresight to dive in early will find themselves with a competitive edge.

    Lets look at the mechanics of mobile search. First, mobile users are accessing the web using a small keypad. Often they will be using one hand, implementing a finger to point, a stylus, a standard phone pad with predictive text capabilities that can be thumbed rapidly, or even a double handed text ‘keyboard which uses both thumbs.

    In addition, the mobile users surroundings may be hectic – they canbe at work, on public transportation, on a jobsite, battling traffic. You have to make things easy so they feel relieved at how simple it was to access and navigate you site! Their patience wioll be short, and you have one shot to get it right.

    SEO, usability and ‘findability’ are supremely important – even critical-to mobile marketing efforts, and if you wish to attract and keep customers, you will put yourself in their shoes. This means thinking like a user first and an SEO second, but implementing all SEO efforts possible as seamlessly as you can to provide both a smooth user experience and high searchability.

    Your mobile audience is viewing your site through a different screen and possibly using a markedly different type of browser. Browsers can be fully featured combinations such as have been implemented on the iPhone, full operating platforms supported by major search engines, or stripped down, barely recognizable version such as are seen on some of the non affiliated phones.  You can’t check your mobile site for compatibility with IE, Safari and Firefox and say ‘done’ – there is a limit to how much content any mobile phone can handle and this means you have to strip your website down while retaining beauty and ease of use.

    In short, the familiar content and presentation methods of the desktop/laptop days won’t apply in the mobile domain. The phones work differently, and your users are on the move – whether literally walking down the street, or seated on commute – private or public transport.

    Mobile users are task oriented. They are by definition ‘mobile’, carrying out time sensitive, local actions and need information to be easy to find and implement – whether they need airline schedules, directions to a restaurant, or the ability to pay for copies three blocks away and avoid waiting in line.

    Even if they are on the surface stationary – on transportation or in a waiting room or lounge – they are still more likely to be engaged in different activities than they would be at home or the office – they will often immerse themselves in a ‘time killing’, private browsing experience that is more personal in nature – IMing, catching up on personal reading – news, etc – or enjoying music or movies.

    These are the activities that mobile users are engaged in, and it is your job to tie in to those activities and engage your audience on the go. Focus on what they do, not how to make what they don’t do easier – that will come in time.

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