Mobile Search and Mobile Optimization

What is it?

Mobile Search and Mobile Optimization are the next big growth opportunity in Online Marketing. Mobile search continues to be an evolving area of traffic that is converging on many mobile platforms, phones and mobile devices. Web search ability in a mobile form allows users to find mobile content.

Why is it important?

Mobile search is growing so rapidly that many analysts expect it to outpace desktop search by 2011. Creates opportunities in branded searches to have multiple listings appear creating deeper reach on the search page.

Mobile SEO Best Practices

Mobile search engines have different spiders and algorithms than those used for traditional web search. Evaluate websites as if it rendered on a mobile phone. Results ranked partially based on how well pages render on the device submitting the query.

In the log files we have seen that Googlebot-Mobile has different user agents that spoof different phones, like a Samsung phone, an iPhone or an Erickson phone. In some cases, different handsets will have different search results based on the evaluations that Google makes with the different user agents.

The best thing to improve mobile SEO is to ensure that the mobile crawlers and user agents determine that content of the website will render well and load quickly on any mobile phone.

While the mobile search engines are not as finely tuned as the traditional engines, they still placing a heavy weight on bounce rate, using the mobile visitors to gauge how the website renders on mobile devices.

Site Architecture Best Practices

  • Utilize the same URL format on both traditional and mobile site
  • Keep content as surfaced as possible in code of the page
  • Utilize browser detection, redirection or robots.txt to avoid duplicate content issue between mobile and traditional versions of the site
  • Create secondary mobile style sheet and such as “handheld.css” to avoid creating duplicate mobile site pages
  • Use the “display:none” attribute in the mobile style sheet to manage how items are rendered
  • Mobile Style Sheet should allow for adjusting of screen size and orientation
    • Site should have light weight design by using basic fonts, less images, plain background, flash/frames free, pop up free, etc.
    • Jump links can be used to minimize site scrolling
  • Follow SEO Best Practices for Title tags, Meta tags, Headers and alt tags
  • Recommended total page size recommended is 20 kb
  • Categorize content for mobile version
  • Use Valid XHTML Coding

Mobile Sitemap

Submit Mobile site map in Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site explorer. A Mobile Sitemap can contain only URLs that serve mobile web content. Any URLs that serve only non-mobile web content will be ignored by the Google crawling mechanisms. URLs serving multiple markup languages can be listed in a single Sitemap, create unique config file for each Mobile Sitemap while creating sitemap using Sitemap Generator.

Currently sitemap supports below markup languages:

Valid pages are likely to render correctly on more mobile devices. Published mobile markup standards include:

  • XHTML Basic 1.1
  • XHTML MP 1.2
  • cHTML
  • WML 1.3


  • Mobile browser landing page review
    • Review messaging and layout on landing pages
    • Add more links to mobile landing pages so to allow access to more of the site
  • Mobile Style Sheet
    • Mobile CSS to improve site rendering on mobile devices
    • Media type specified as handheld, e.g. media="handheld"
  • Images
    • Use image dimensions for more efficient viewing on mobile devices
  • Video
    • Include head tags for mobile viewing
    • Provide mRSS feeds
  • Mobile Sitemap
    • Submit and update mobile sitemaps in GWT and BWT
    • Add to robots.txt
  • User Agent Checking
    • Currently detects iPhone mobile browsers efficiently
    • Android and standard mobile browser checking could be implemented
    • Continue to test and update for different browser accessibility, interoperability, and customization


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About the Author
Joydeep Deb

experienced in Online Marketing, Web Technologies, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, SEM, SMM, Web Master, eMail Marketing, Web Analytics, MIS Reporting, Web Design and Development.

Lives in Bangalore, Karnataka - India and working as an Program Manager SEO at Cisco Systems Inc.

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