I’m on the Bus and I’m Visiting Your Site

By Bryson Meunier, Associate Director, Search Engine Optimization

Just a short post today, reminding fellow SEO bloggers to optimize their blogs for mobile devices—particularly for smartphones. Time-starved early adopters like my friends and I are using our Blackberries, iPhones, G1s, et al to get SEO information wherever and whenever we have time to access it, and we don’t like being told to wait until we get to our desks to do it. On top of that, not having a clear SEO/usability strategy in place for mobile users in 2008 makes a webmaster look like an amateur.

No, it’s not just me with the mobile itch. In July, Nielsen Mobile reported that 40 million mobile subscribers in the US surf the mobile Web every month, and that number is only part of the 95 million in the US who actually subscribe to mobile Web service, but don’t regularly use it. One reason they don’t use it: your site doesn’t work on their phone. As Greg Sterling pointed out, usability spawns usage when it comes to the mobile Web. If you build it, they will come.

For SEOs specifically, this is not just about mobile Web usage, but about critical mass for mobile search. Earlier this month, comScore reported 20.8 million U.S. mobile subscribers and 4.5 million European mobile phone subscribers accessed search during June 2008-- an increase of 68 and 38 percent from June 2007, respectively. Mobile search has always been a fraction of desktop search, but can you really afford to ignore 20.8 million mobile searchers and still be a successful SEO?

If you’re able to now, you probably won’t be able to for long. Google’s G1 Android phone released last week is one example of the widespread mobile usage to come. Yahoo! has predicted that mobile Internet users will overtake desktop users by 2017, and other predictions by emarketer, Google et al are similarly bullish. As engines make it easier to search by voice and predictive text, as networks become faster and more open, and as site owners increase the usability of their sites to all types of mobile devices, this prediction comes ever closer to coming true.

So please, fix your site. When I’m accessing blogs from Google Reader mobile, I’m tired of seeing screens like this when I try to use your site:

Click to view larger image.
Mobile Error: Page Not Adapted for Mobile Phone

40 million others in the US are likely nodding in agreement. Help us access your content, and we will.


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