The Future Is Mobile
Most business owners have caught up with the fact that optimizing their website for search is vital to the success of your company. However, now that advertising your business online has become the norm, the game has changed again. Getting to the top of Google/Yahoo!/Bing has long been the leading goal, but you might need to retool your web strategies as the playing field changes. That’s because mobile search (using a cell phone browser to check out sites on the web) is becoming increasingly popular. Did you realize that approximately 50% of the cell phones sold in the U.S. are smart phones? This adds up to an Internet climate where ranking is no longer the only important thing. In light of the mobile revolution, it’s important to cater to prospective customers who are using mobile browsers, not just desktop computers. Maybe you’re asking yourself why it matters how a prospective client gets to your website as long as they get there, right? The truth is that this is a rather critical issue, so let’s dig into it a little deeper…
Mobile vs. Desktop Browsing: What’s the Difference?
As you’re certainly aware, when you’re creating a standard website, you want it to be visually pleasing, simple to navigate, and fast to load. Those goals are the same when you’re considering web optimization for mobile devices, but how you achieve those ends can actually be VERY different. Consider this:
- Mobile browsing takes place on cell phones and other mobile devices. That means screens are much, much, much smaller.
- Phones also have limited power, usually just a fraction of the power a typical desktop has at its disposal.
These differences may not seem like that huge a deal, but they actual mean that mobile browsing is substantially different from standard web browsing. And if your site uses Flash or relies on tons of images, you’re probably in major trouble. That’s because most phones aren’t able to display Flash content at all, and images are generally quite slow to process on phones. In short, Flash and/or lots of images mean two things for mobile browsing and your site:
- The content will either not display at all, or it will take so long to load that visitors will lose patience and go elsewhere—perhaps straight to a competitor’s site.
- Search engines use load times as one of their factors when deciding results rankings, so slow loading = low rankings.
What to Do About It
If you’re wondering what to do about catching up with the mobile browsing revolution, take a deep breath. For those of you who are already Prospect Genius clients, you don’t have to do anything! The same proprietary content management system that runs your microsite also powers a mobile version that’s automatically optimized for search and mobile display. For everyone else, there are some steps you can take to make your site more mobile friendly. Consider:
- Using code to check the “User Agent String.” If it is reported as a mobile browser, that code can display a different version of the web page. Unless you’re a tech pro, you probably won’t want to tackle this on your own though…
- Submitting a mobile sitemap to the major search engines. It’s typically best to never force the search engines to guess about anything, ever. Just come right out to the front and tell them all about the mobile version of your site.
- Making sure excessive images don’t clog up the mobile version. Remove all images or, at the very least, switch to small image sizes so they load faster.
- Utilizing obvious and simple navigational items. Remember, not all phones are touch screens, and many lack a mouse-like pointing device.
- Making mobile pages extra narrow. People on older style phones have tiny screens, and even BlackBerries have a fairly small display. Don’t make people scroll horizontally AND vertically.
If you’re looking for more tips and tricks on mobile browsing and your website, check out this older, but still valid, blog post. Have questions about this or any other SEO topic? Feel free to contact Prospect Genius to learn more. We’re available by phone at 800-689-1273 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 800-689-1273 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or you can e-mail our account managers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional info about our products, services, and online marketing is also available throughout our web site, so don’t forget to look around!