Go Mobile or Go Home: SEO tips in the handheld age.

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Photo courtesy of SEOPlanter at Flickr.com

The days of waiting to get home or to go to the local library or internet café to search for information online are long gone. The increase in the global population’s use of tablets, smart-phones, and other handheld gadgets which allow internet connection through Wi-fi or operator data packages has made mobile searches the preferred means of looking for and finding relevant information for our daily needs. Whether it’s the nearest Italian restaurant or the hottest bar in town, society depends more and more on using search engines through mobile devices and business owners must ensure that their web page works just as well on a smartphone than on a desktop computer. This is especially important now that Google is giving priority search results placement to mobile friendly sites. Here are some tips for those who want to increase SEO in the handheld age.

There are a wide range of design techniques you may use to make sure your web page is mobile friendly. Depending on the size of your business and your budget you may be inclined towards mDots (mobile URLs), dynamic serving, or responsive design. Pure Oxygen Labs conducted an SEO audit of 500 mobile retailers and the trends show an increase of responsive design and dynamic serving while mDots have steadily decreased over the past three years. Understanding this trend can help you decide which alternative best suits your mobile needs.

Independent of which mobile website design you choose you must make sure your website functions properly on mobile devices. Some of Google’s parameters for mobile friendliness are:

· Make sure the text is readable without zooming in.

· Avoid making the user pinch or zoom in to see content.

· Organize space between links so that users don’t accidentally click on unwanted information.

More often than not mobile device users are more willing to make purchase decisions on the go, especially when the information they need is relevant and easy to access. That’s where the three W’s claim importance. You should make sure that a user who clicks on your sites mobile page knows where you are, when you’re open, and who they can contact.

This can be accomplished by being listed on major search engine’s local sections. By being listed, it is more likely than not that your website will appear on a search engine’s primary results. You should also make sure that you take into account voice searches since these are faster to execute than typing what you want to find.

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Photo courtesy of Mr. G.C. at Flickr.com

Having a page which loads in a second or which loads in five can make all the difference in a user’s experience. Faster load times usually yield to more engaged users and a better experience, which in turn leads to higher traffic and better rankings in search results. There are some simple considerations to make sure you don’t sacrifice content for speed.

One of the most important ways you can reduce load times is by avoiding large images. The bigger the image size the more resources a device will use to try to open them and this usually leads to slower load times. Not using any images is the best way to load sites faster but if you are going to use images in your mobile site an image compressor tool definitely helps in reducing load times. Mashable has come up with a list of 18 tools which can help a mobile site reduce image size.

Every query to a stylesheet or Javascript code means a sacrifice in load times. The more CSS and Javascript that you use is another HTTP request that must be made, and thus more time to load a page.

Programming using CSS3 and HTML5 will make for faster loading pages. CSS3 and HTML5 were created to be light on the resources used without sacrificing web page quality which makes their use perfect for mobile web design.

Google’s new web search algorithm is proof of how mobile devices are taking over as the preferred search means. It’s been called a number of names with Mobilegeddon being used the most. But unlike the name suggests, it does not represent any danger to mobile devices. It is rather an adaptation to the times. According to Google’s official Webmaster Central Blog, mobile friendly sites will get an increase in rankings. To find out if a website is mobile friendly developers can make use of the Mobile Friendly Test provided by Google.

Mobile is the future of SEO. Businesses must embrace the ever growing trend of society using their mobile devices to look for information, make purchases, visit places, and everything else that used to be done in front of a desktop computer. A business which is not concerned with providing an excellent mobile experience is doomed to be lost in a search engines latter pages rather than the premium first results.

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