Why Mobile SEO is a Must in 2010

2010 is the year mobile search is poised to tip, making understanding and implementing mobile SEO best practices more important than ever.


SEO is evolving at a lightning fast pace. With the emergence of mobile search, staying connected to potential customers, and where and how they search, has just gotten a bit more complex. With global mobile usage around 4.2 billion and rising, the importance of establishing a strong SEO presence should not be underestimated.  More striking is the fact that iPhone users represented about 5% of the smartphone market in 2008, yet drove 65% of all mobile searches. This means that people want to search on their mobile devices, they just need a capable phone to do it.

Keep in mind that this ain’t your mama’s SEO. Links? Not so important. PageRank? Apparently mobile rankings haven’t heard of it. Developing a mobile search strategy requires a shift in paradigm to drive mobile traffic to your site. With an amalgamation of traditional SEO and new best practices floating around, suggesting changes for mobile optimization is a potential minefield.

That said, the guidelines suggested below are currently the best way to prepare your SEO campaigns for success in mobile search.

SEO Best Practices

The mobile web is not the same as the traditional web. The beauty of your perfectly crafted, image rich homepage won’t help you here. Instead, you’ll have to recode your site to display properly on mobile devices in order to avoid losing visitors who land on a page of mumbo jumbo script.

In this case, using valid code means using XHTML, and using it well. By using W3C compliant XHTML code on your mobile site, you can ensure that users are seeing the content you want them to see, the way you want them to see it. While you are coding your site, don’t forget traditional SEO practices.

Keyword rich headers and content are still effective and should be used, following traditional best practices. However, one disputed yet probably true difference is the decreased importance of keywords in the domain name. For example, NeboWeb.com benefits from the term “web” in the domain name for traditional search, but does not get the same benefit when it comes to mobile search.

Keyword Ranking

Mobile SEO success is dependent on two crucial factors: location and timing. If a user is searching for “car repairs in Atlanta”, the limited number of mobile sites in combination with a fast upload time for your site could make a small mom and pop auto shop rank just as highly as a Pep Boys in the area. 

Keywords for SEO should be targeted, but in a different way than traditional SEO. Instead of focusing on long tail, multi-word phrases, keywords should be adapted to follow the mobile search style. This means shorter keyword phrases, 3 words at most, with geographical information included in highly competitive phrases.

Although this strategy may be of limited importance for global companies, it will allow local businesses to rank for terms in mobile search that are beyond their wildest dreams in traditional SEO.  Finally, good news for small businesses


Most firms who are pursuing SEO strategies have already implemented many traditional practices and the prospect of overhauling an entire site can seem daunting. Well never fear, microsites are here. Microsites are an excellent opportunity to provide mobile search capability without revamping an entire site, which may have already taken a substantial investment.

Microsites can be adapted to implement all of the best practices listed above, but can be made to focus solely on mobile users, enabling businesses to maintain a traditional homepage for the benefit of non-mobile rankings and users. When crafting your new mobile microsite, keep in mind that display options are crucial when approaching the mobile market. Factors such as image display size, use of java, and varied browser usage should be considered when designing your site.  And since you already have a site dedicated to mobile search, make sure you put “mobile” in your content.


After your mobile site is polished to perfection, make sure you submit your site map to search engines’ mobile indexes, then sit back and wait for you traffic to increase. Unfortunately, there’s only one small problem with monitoring your traffic: it might not be possible.

Tracking mobile search is hard. The method generally accepted as the most reliable, Google Analytics, doesn’t work if mobile devices don’t execute JavaScript, making it extremely difficult to judge what traffic is coming from mobile sites and what traffic is coming from traditional SEO efforts.

However, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.  Keep in mind, Google hasn’t perfected mobile search rankings yet, and as with most other business strategies, your best bet is to get in early and establish dominance on your keywords of choice.