Next week, SES New York will be taking place (March 19th – 23rd), and in the run-up to the event, I was digging around the list of exhibitors, because even though I won’t be able to attend, I like keeping an eye on these things – it can be a great gauge of the direction […]

Follow SEJ on Twitter @sejournal


As the holiday season approaches, more consumers than ever will be making purchases from their mobile devices, rather than utilizing their personal computers or the more traditional means of making a trip to the store. According to mobile ad network Jumptap and comScore, 31% of mobile device owners have made a purchase with their device. […]

Follow SEJ on Twitter @sejournal


A Recent infographic from Nielsen that focuses on Social Local and Mobile (SoLoMo) had a few interesting sound bites.  One of that jumped out at me is that of smartphone users two-thirds of these users time is spent in apps. It doesn’t say how much of this is spent on Angry Birds, but it does […]

Follow SEJ on Twitter @sejournal


I hate the term “Mobile SEO.” What exactly is it? Besides being a buzzword thrown around at every conference, seminar, and new business pitch it’s a topic that nobody seems able to accurately explain. Google it; the results are all over the place. In a perfect world, there would be no need for mobile SEO at all.

It’s an emerging topic that, thanks to smart phones, is dying off quicker than it emerges.

 

Like most buzz words though, I don’t think the concept of mobile SEO is going to go away anytime soon.

So if we’re stuck with it, we might as well attempt to do it right – by not really doing anything mobile specific at all.

For starters, we need to stop confusing the terms mobile and local. While related, they are very different things – especially when it comes to SEO. It is true that local search is mostly done on mobile phones, but it does not mean mobile and local SEO are the same thing. They are not and that is where the industry confusion comes in.

When people say mobile SEO they usually mean local SEO. Sometimes they actually mean search results on a mobile phone. Most of the time though, they have no idea what they mean and are simply trying to shift their paradigm and leverage as many buzzwords as they can to help synergize their sales pitch. (see how successful that is?)

So let’s clarify:

Mobile Search refers to search done on a mobile device. That’s it.

Local Search deals with results specific to a location. This usually also includes place pages, maps, and other things that help augment local search.

Part of what helps sustain the mobile search myth is this whole multi-screen concept that is somehow gaining popularity. If you look hard enough you’ll find studies that show mobile phone users use their devices differently than tablet users who use their devices differently than ordinary computer users. I’m recalling a presentation I once sat through where somebody in a cheap suit defined 1st screen, 2nd screen, 3rd screen, 4th screen, and 5th screen and how we should have a strategy for all of them. That type of thinking achieves billable hours but not results.

The whole “multiple screens need multiple sites” theory just doesn’t make sense. We have never designed separate TV commercials for 13″ CRT screens and 70″ plasmas – even though people watching them are usually in very different places/situations. When it comes to viewing a website, my 10″ tablet isn’t much different than my 13″ laptop. Sure it does not support flash, but that is not a reason to design a different site – it is just a reason to learn HTML5.

Mobile screens are nothing more than smaller computer screens. There are some minor differences now, but look at how fast phones are evolving; within a year or so there won’t be any difference at all. With browsers (like IE6) there came a time when we collectively decided to stop supporting old technology. That time for mobile sites is now. In the 90’s we designed websites for various resolutions. Today we use fluid layouts. It is time we apply the same approach to mobile.

The best Mobile SEO strategy is to not have a mobile SEO strategy.

Apple does not have a mobile strategy and they practically invented the modern mobile device. Apple.com is a great example of how to handle mobile site design. Apple shows the exact same site to mobile and “wired” visitors. It is even on the same URL. Sure, there’s probably a different style sheet involved, but that’s it. The experience is the SAME.

Even better, since it is the exact same URL they only have one site to optimize. All of the SEO work they have done to their wired site also applies to their mobile site – because they’re the same thing! They do not need a mobile search strategy because they do not technically have a mobile site.

It is not just Apple either. Google does the same thing, only the little promos below the search box change.

This is a best case scenario though, and various technical decisions made in the past might not make it applicable to everybody.

If you really MUST have a different site, use device detection and canonical tags.

Creating a separate site can open you up to all kinds of SEO problems. Having two different domains with similar content is something most SEOs strive to avoid. The last thing you want to do is create a mobile version of a site that competes with your existing site in search. Luckily, there are several ways to avoid this.

If you can’t go with using the same domain then the next best choice is m.yourdomain.com It does not really provide any SEO benefit, but “m” has sort of become the industry standard. In a best case scenario you would be able to keep all of the URLs exactly the same except for the “m.” subdomain. That way, at least it will keep things simple for users.

Remember when I said the best mobile strategy is no mobile strategy? The trick is to leverage device detection and canonicals so that your “wired” site is always shown in search results regardless of what device the searcher uses. As John Mu from Google describes the best thing to do is to slap a canonical tag on that mobile site and point it back to your wired site.

Using this strategy, search engines will always show the wired version of the site in results, but users will be taken to the proper “canonical version” that best fits their device. It is also a good idea to include a link to the full version just in case.

If you truly want a different experience, build an app.

I can hear your argument now: “a mobile device is a different experience. It has got a touch screen!” So what? We are talking about a web browser here. Touch screen, trackpad, mouse, joystick – they are all just methods of pointing and clicking. My art director on the 2nd floor uses a pad and stylus and he has not once asked for his own version of a website. If you really want to use the device’s capabilities you don’t need a mobile website – you need an app.

If you want something that is really native to a device, an app is definitely the way to go. Apps can access multi-touch features, rich media, in app purchases, gps, camera, and other aspects to provide a truly unique experience that a website cannot. But don’t just stop there. Use that same device detection to show an interstitial on your mobile site advertising the app. How is that for leveraging pre-existing SEO? Let your site’s pre-established authority work for your mobile version and help you sell apps!

TL;DR

  • The best mobile strategy is to create a site that works on all devices.
  • Otherwise use m.yourdomain.com, device detection to redirect (both ways) and canonical tags.
  • Always provide a link for me to switch to the full version.
  • If you want a true “device experience” then create an app.
  • Stop saying “mobile SEO” when you mean “Local SEO”

By day Ryan Jones works at Team Detroit doing SEO for Ford. By night he’s either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world – which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com

Follow SEJ on Twitter @sejournal


Google Inc. says it’s buying Motorola Mobility Holdings, Moto’s wireless phone unit, for $12.5 billion in cash.

Google shares fell, as the acquiring company’s stock often do, by about 3% in premarket trading, according to the Associated Press. But Moto shares rocketed 60%.

Google gets Motorola Mobility’s substantial patent portfolio, which will be a boon to Google’s Android product line and give it some cover in the patent lawsuits lobbed by smartphone competitors.

In a statement, Google CEO Larry Page said that having the portfolio will help the company “better protect Android from anti-competetitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.”

Not to be overlooked is the fact that open-source champion Google will finally own the hardware on which its operating system runs. It’s competitors own their software and hardware, and guard them aggressively. Page said they remain committed to an open-platform Android.

The deal is expected to close around the first of the year.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Google Buys $12.5B Shield Against Patent Suits


Mobile discovery is becoming something that I am beginning to rely on more and more in order to find good link opportunities. While I do try not to work on and off all the time, I have found that a leisurely stroll through the following iPad apps and other mobile-friendly tools is amazing for uncovering some awesome potentials, especially when I am not multitasking and dealing with employees/clients.

There’s such an overload of information out there on the web right now that keeping up without a bit of help is impossible, so I’ve started really relying on ways to quickly get through all of the information that I can. Here are my three current favorites.

Ipad Tools

I’ve become fairly obsessed with the iPad and have been finding it quite useful in uncovering some serious gems. One of the best things about using iPad apps for discovery is that everything is so well presented.

Zite

Zite is my go-to iPad app, period. I use it for reading about all the things that interest me (usually things I wouldn’t honestly take the time to search for) and especially for industry-related new content. After using Zite for just a few weeks, I’ve found tons of sources for great information that had never before come to my attention.

You can choose which categories you want to see results from, thumb them up or down so that the app learns more about what to show you, and socialize/email from the pieces themselves. Zite has alerted me to some amazing industry blogs that I’ve never read before, and I’ve uncovered some awesome pieces written by people with whom I’ve been unfamiliar so far.

Flipboard

Flipboard is really useful for going through your social media feeds. It hooks up to Facebook and Twitter and presents the information in a way that makes you want to spend even more time on social media, creating what amounts to a personalized social media magazine for you. I’m addicted to digital magazines so this has been a really great way for me to keep up on what everyone’s talking about. Again, it’s a great way to find new content that is relevant for your purposes, whatever they may be.

Web and Email Tools

Summify

I just found out about Summify (which is not strictly mobile-use, but it’s how I use it) recently thanks to Twitter, and already I love it. You can connect it to your Google Reader, Twitter, and/or Facebook accounts and receive a summary email pulling the best stories for you that have come from those networks. The frequency of delivery varies from once every 6 hours to weekly, so it’s a great way to get the most interesting items and not have to stay on top of things nonstop.

While this is definitely not limited to mobile discovery, I enjoy reading summaries on my iPhone and iPad and am more likely to read something like this when I have a bit of downtime. You can choose to have your summaries visible to others, and you can read others’ summaries, which can lead you to some really cool stuff that you might not see otherwise depending upon your social networks. It’s very helpful for taking a weekend off from the computer and catching up on Monday. The emailed summary gives you the info on how many tweets and Facebook shares have occurred and shows you the original tweet/share plus who retweeted/shared it. I particularly like the way it gives you the piece’s title. However, the one thing I don’t like is that clicking a link here will take you to a Summify frame.

This list is certainly not exhaustive, but it is only about mobile (and 100% free) methods of doing discovery. If you have other good ways of doing this, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Since all of these deal with social media, they’re also a great way to find new connections who share your interests, thus leading to even more potential link opportunities.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

My Three Favorite Mobile Discovery Tools


According to a recent study, targeting smartphone users could be the ultimate platform for retailers and local businesses. The research indicates that mobile searchers are much further in the buying cycle than any business or marketer could have ever dreamed.

As mobile devices become more popular and more technologically advanced, mobile search is becoming a much more prominent activity.  Search has always been a top activity on the internet, but mobile searches are increasing each year, as are mobile search advertising expenditures. Mobile search ad spending is expected to make up 27% of the US mobile advertising market in 2011, and continue to surge toward 34% by the year 2014.

Users who are searching for a product on their smartphones may be sitting at home, but odds are they’re out and about, getting things done and purchasing goods. While consumers (especially desktop users) usually purchase their machines for use at home or work, consumers purchase mobile devices with the intent of using them on the go. Smartphone users could be running around town looking for a product or, better yet, in a store researching something that’s right in front of them.

What Actions Do Users Take After Makings a Mobile Search?

A survey conducted by Google and Ipsos OTX MediaCT gives us an idea of what smartphone users do after running a search on a mobile device.

To the adoration of retailers and marketers alike, the most common activity after performing a search was to visit a business’ website or store. An amazing  55% of people who searched for product information via a mobile device actually walked into a physical store shortly after.  Another 39% visited the retailer’s website.

The second most common activity was to continue research on either a PC or smartphone Although purchasing was the least likely activity after a mobile search, the report indicates 53% of all mobile searches related to a product resulted in a purchase.  40% purchased something in a brick-and-mortar store, 35% made their purchase online, 20% actually made a purchase using their smartphones. These numbers are

In other words, more than half of smartphone users purchased a product after doing a search on their smartphones, and even more users visited a physical store. For a retailer, marketer, or ecommerce store, these numbers should open your eyes to the power of mobile search.

Mobile Search for Local Businesses

The study further segmented searchers who were searching for a business close to their location.

Of mobile searches for a local business, 61% called a store after there search, and almost as many searchers actually visited a business—59%.  58% searched for directions or looked at a map, which falls in line with 59% that visited the stores physical location. (Perhaps that 1% might have gotten lost on the way?) Furthermore, 54% of local, mobile searchers visited the business’ website.

An astounding 36% of survey respondents stated they made a purchase at the physical location and 27% said they made a purchase at the business’ online store.The number of respondents who promoted the businesses on their smartphones is also remarkable. 22% of mobile searchers recommended a business to someone else. The study indicates that 20% of mobile searchers either read or wrote a review, but reading versus writing is a much different activity so the only conclusion we can draw from that is having positive reviews is important.

As you can see, targeting mobile searchers could potentially be an untapped goldmine a business. But how do you do that? Are there any specific ways to target mobile searchers? Absolutely! Stay tuned for Part II when we’ll walk through the best practices to optimize a site for mobile search.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

The Gold Mine Known as Mobile Search


Mobile search marketing is perhaps the biggest growth area in digital marketing right now, and there’s a good reason for that. The foreign language internet is the future of ecommerce – online businesses are coming to discover that it’s no longer enough to just target one country or language, if they want to continue to grow, they need to expand beyond a limited target market to reach everyone in the world.

Gone are the days when the internet was a predominantly English domain – foreign languages are experiencing phenomenal rates of online growth, fuelled by increasing rates of internet accessibility in emerging economies, and nowhere more so than the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

The BRIC nations are commonly cited as the up and coming economies that smart investors are looking towards, but the same could equally be said of the CIVETS countries (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa). The one thing that the majority of these countries have in common, when it comes to ecommerce, is that consumers mainly access the web via handheld devices such as web-enabled mobile phones.

There are various reasons for this – the cost of desktop and laptop computers compared to relatively cheap mobile phones, access to high speed broadband infrastructure and the cost of home broadband packages, etc – but in the end it all boils down to the fact that if you want to sell online to consumers in emerging economies, you need a mobile ecommerce strategy.

Here are a few stats to give you an idea of the size of the potential market, and how to claim your slice of the pie.

Business Monitor International predicts that the BRIC nations will see GDP growth in 2011 of 6.4%, while emerging economies (all economies outside the G7 and other developed Western nations) will see 5.1% growth – compared to a measly 1.9% growth for the G7 economies.

Clearly, the emerging markets are where the true growth is – and these markets are conducting ecommerce via their mobiles. An eMarketer report on mobile phone subscribers 2009 to (estimated) 2014 shows that:

  • There will be over 200 million mobile subscribers in both Brazil and Russia by 2014;
  • As well as 853 million mobile subscribers in India by the same year;
  • And over a billion mobile subscribers in China.

Indeed, worldwide mobile searches grew by 247% last year, while desktop searches dropped by 15%, according to this Tamar White Paper.

Luckily, there are a few tricks and benefits to mobile search marketing.

  • Because screens on handsets are much smaller than desktop computers, mobile searchers are more likely to click through to the top search result, which means that your ongoing SEO efforts will be more crucial than ever. The good news is that search marketing in foreign languages delivers a better return on investment (ROI) than search engine marketing in English, due to there being less content overall in the foreign language internet and therefore less competition.
  • Research shows that mobile searchers click-through on pay-per-click (PPC) ads more than desktop searchers (probably for the same reasons as above), so investing a bit more in your PPC campaigns should deliver a solid ROI.
  • Mobile searchers spend less time on each site, though, with only 33% making it past the first page – this indicates that you want your landing pages to lead quickly to conversions, no faffing about!

There’s a ton of literature out there poring over the nitty-gritty of mobile searching, so I won’t go into it any further here, but suffice to say, if you’re in ecommerce, right now the emerging markets are where the exciting growth is to be found, and if you want an entry point into those markets, then you’ll need to get multilingual, and mobile!

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

The International Importance of Mobile Search


Google representatives, especially those high up on the ladder, are no stranger to major events. This is especially true for Eric Schmidt who, over the years, has given keynote addresses at almost every top technology and business event even slightly related to his industry. It’s no surprise, then, that he would be selected for the opening keynote at the IAB Leadership Conference.

While Schmidt covered many talking points directly relevant to the event itself, he also went into the details of one particularly booming industry: mobile. He stated that the world of mobility had “finally caught up with the promises we talked about for so long,” and that the medium is growing in popularity faster than anyone had predicted.

To support this claim, Schmidt gave various facts and figures, including the huge jump in mobile traffic for advertisers who aired commercials during the Super Bowl; Chrysler saw their mobile figures multiply by 102 (opposed to their 48 times multiplication on the desktop platform for that same time period), while GoDaddy saw a 315 multiplier (contrasted with just 38 multiplier via desktop browsers). Additionally, 78% of smartphone owners use their web and applications as a part of their shopping experience, a trend which Schmidt thinks will continue in years to come. Perhaps most telling, though, is the popularity of sites with strong mobile features, such as YouTube, which gets roughly 200 million playbacks per day on the mobile platform alone.

To wrap up his discussion of the mobile platform, Schmidt stated that display advertising should link to mobile and that the mobile advertising industry will grow notably to help match this demand. He claims that the industry, currently about a $17 billion business, will (according to Schmidt) reach the $200 billion mark in years to come.

[via Mashable]

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Google’s Schmidt States Mobile Growing Faster than All Predictions


Given the stunning conclusion of a recent A.C. Nielsen study that “if all time spent on the mobile web was condensed into a single hour, U.S. internet users would have spent 25 minutes in June 2010 checking email” it is obvious that far from being “dead” as many of its Web 3.0 detractors like to claim, email is experiencing a renaissance within the new online mobile paradigm.

Email marketing is more important than ever as a primary and integral part of any brand’s promotional campaigns even as the onus shifts from emails read on 22” flatscreens to ones viewed on a dizzying plethora of tiny mobile screen sizes, formats, operating systems, and interfaces. Here are some of the best ways to ensure that your next email campaign is not only readable but equally effective on every device from basic monochrome cell phones all the way to the most powerful desktop PCs.

Edit, Edit, And Then Edit Some More

Email marketers are well aware that their content should be “shaped” in the inverted pyramid style and mobiles make it more important than ever to keep that pyramid concentrated and very sharp. Your mobile prospect on the go is not likely to sit and scroll through voluminous treatises about your latest SEO discount offer, so keep it short, keep it simple, and get to the point quickly and powerfully. Your window of opportunity is as small as the size of the screen itself!

A/B Is Your Best Friend

In the mobile space, split testing becomes not just desirable but mandatory. Every aspect of how your email is delivered and displayed should be tested literally ad infinitum. If there is definition as to how much testing constitutes overkill, it can be confidently stated that no email marketer has ever accomplished it. The variances of how and what is displayed in the myriad devices is enough to fill an encyclopedia and although it is a lugubrious and labor-intensive task, each must be tested and tested and tested. Keep in mind that it’s not just the devices that you have to test but the quirks of the specific email clients and even addresses. Users of Facebook’s new email-messaging hybrid won’t see a message’s subject line!

An ASCII Tells A Thousand Pictures

Mobile email has turned the state of the art on its head, and while the long standing advice to keep your content as graphically visual as possible still applies to the messages read on “conventional” computers, the diametric opposite applies to email reading on the go. Images increase loading time on all but the hottest 4G phones and some devices will display them in uncomplimentary “onion-field” pixilation. If you absolutely can’t get away from including images in your content, try to keep them as small as possible (in physical as well as file size) or provide your customers with an option to view them. Also make sure that you have clear text descriptions for each relevant image for the “images off” customer.

Correlate Your Frequency To A Time Zone Map

You’ve just sent out your email campaign to hit at 9 am so that your East Coast users will have time to react to it through the business day. That’s great until you realize that it’s being received at 3 am in Honolulu! Your Hawaiian customers being woken up in the middle of the night by your latest SEO missive will likely provide you with a 100% response… of unsubscribing. Your West Coast subscribers reading it at 6 am might not be too thrilled either. A simple correlation of area codes vs. time zones will ensure that your email campaign impacts your customers when they’re awake and ready to respond positively.

A Landing Or A Crashing Page?

You have a phenomenal email campaign which displays properly on everything from a Core i7’s widescreen to a Motorola StarTAC 3000 (!!!), but when your customers respond to your call to action, they are taken to a page that is only readable on a minimum 1440 x 900 monitor. Congratulations, you’ve just lost sales and lots of them. Since it may well be beyond the capabilities of the most gifted web designer to concoct a single landing page which suits the needs of the Sandy Bridge crowd equally as well as the mobile masses, the most desirable hi-tech solution is to create device-sensing links. Failing that, providing an option to click through to a “full size” or mobile-friendly landing page is the best approach.

From: Here To Eternity

Many mobile devices only portray your From: line as the sole information which the customer must use to base their decision of whether to read or delete your message, so that line has taken on far greater importance than ever before. Resist the temptation to get cutesy or sly and make your From: line a substitute for your Subject line. Your brand’s name should be sufficient to inform the subscriber that it’s from you and that it should be read. If they are deleting on your brand name, then you’re likely never to convert them anyway so they’re better pruned from your list.

The burgeoning mobile market is not free from its share of pratfalls for the inexperienced or unsophisticated email marketer. The staggering spectrum of devices and contradictory standards can be seen as a mine field to tiptoe across. Instead of fearing this diversity it should be embraced and encompassed in every aspect of your email campaigns regardless of the effort expended to cater to every element in the display rainbow: No pain, no gain!

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

How To Make Your Email Campaigns Mobile Friendly