Do Mobile Apps Need SEO?

My latest article at Practical eCommerce, read it in full here.

You betcha they do. The world of mobile applications is foreign territory to most Internet marketers. App development requires different skills than traditional website development. App planning and design forces marketers to understand the limitations of different platforms and devices. But once an app is developed and ready for download, how can users find it, or even know of its existence? There are, after all, millions of mobile apps.

Users can find a mobile app through the various app stores as well as via searches on Google and other search engines, provided the app pages are optimized for that purpose. Interestingly, search engine optimization for mobile applications isn’t all that different from SEO for any other digital asset or website.

Search engine optimization for mobile apps and the app stores that offer them is about two things: keywords and links. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Search engine optimization for websites boils down to three basic concepts: getting crawled, optimizing content, and building credibility through links and social media mentions. The only thing different about SEO for mobile apps is that it isn’t the app itself that’s being optimized; it’s the page on which the app sits.

Read more about “SEO for Mobile Apps and App Stores” and how Victoria’s Secret and Groupon are doing it right. »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Mobile SEO and Responsive Web Design

My latest article at Practical Ecommerce, SEO Benefits of Responsive Web Design. Read it in full.

Site owners have many competing needs when developing mobile sites. Different devices, different capabilities, different screen sizes and resolutions, all have an impact on designing and developing mobile sites today.

Image courtesy of Google’s Go Mo initiative.

According to Mongoose Metrics, a tracking and analysis firm, only 9 percent of sites are ready for mobile in 2012. The primary consideration with mobile tends to be enabling better usability and — for ecommece sites —conversion. Another study by Compuware, a software and services provider, shows that 57 percent of users will not recommend a company with a bad mobile site and 40 percent of users will visit a competitor’s site rather than using a poorly optimized mobile site. The case for usability and conversion as primary concerns in the drive to take ecommerce sites mobile is easy to make. Fortunately, responsive web design — the leading solution to the mobile usability challenge — is also beneficial to search engine optimization.

Read more »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

How to Benefit from Googlebot-Mobile’s New Smarts

Excerpted from my latest article at Practical Ecommerce, read it in full here.

Google’s mobile crawler Googlebot-Mobile has traditionally focused on content designed for feature phones and their extremely limited browsers. Google recently announced, however, a new version of Googlebot-Mobile that crawls using an iPhone user agent, enabling it to discover content designed for smartphones, which are more robust than feature phones.

As an avid searcher and a search engine optimization professional, I’ve been disappointed in Google’s treatment of smartphone search results — I addressed here a few months ago, in “Google Says Smartphone Sites Aren’t Mobile.” When a searcher takes the time to tap in a query on their smartphone’s keyboard, the search engine should reward that searcher’s effort by favoring smartphone content over desktop content. Instead, Google has left the task to each individual site to detect smartphones and serve the appropriately formatted content — with mixed results.

Read on to see how one major retailer flubs smartphone usability and potentially misses out on mobile search sales.

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Mobile Search Trend on Google Mirrors Early Desktop Trend

I love this chart from yesterday’s Google event to announce Instant Pages, a new feature that preloads the first result in order to serve it instantly. My interest was immediately draw from the announcement itself to the promise of Google’s mobile search trends.

Mobile search is still young, but it’s growing at a rate consistent with desktop searches in the olden days. At least on Google.

The red line is mobile, and it’s ramping much more quickly than desktop search did. It’s unclear what volume of searches we’re talking about here. I suppose we’re meant to assume that the X axis is consistently labeled so that we’re seeing similar volumes, not just a similar trend line shape.

Once upon a time when desktop search was young, Google wasn’t the ubiquitous brand name it is now, and frankly there just wasn’t as much demand for instant knowledge powered by web search. Remember when you had a phone book and used it for something more than … well … filling your recycling bin? Today we all know Google, and we all want answers instantly. Search is the fastest way to fill that insatiable need to know. Mobile search is the always-available, in-your-pocket-or-purse, have-an-itch-and-scratch-it tool.

As more people trade in their feature phones for smartphones, mobile search will explode much faster than desktop search did. More people have phones, more people have their phones on and on them, and mobile feeds the instant impulse. Not only will the numbers of people who can access mobile search ramp more quickly than the number of people who had access to desktop computers, the mobile platform is more prone to an elevated number of searches per person.

It’s a fantastically exciting time for online marketers staring at the evolution of search from desktop to desktop and mobile. I wrote an article yesterday for Practical Ecommerce entitled: “Google Says Smartphone Sites Aren’t Mobile.” It’s highly unlikely that the smartphone version of a site will rank well in a search from a smartphone. Google prefers the desktop version with its juicy links and older age, etc. From an SEO standpoint, serving mobile searchers really boils down to the strength of your desktop site and the tactics you use to direct smartphone searchers to smartphone content. As silly as I personally think this is, and as inconsistent with Google’s stated goal of serving the right content to the right users, it’s reality. I’ll be very interested to see if and how Google adapts to serve the right version of mobile-oriented content to mobile searchers as the numbers of mobile searchers increases.

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.