It is clear that 2010 has been the ‘Year of the Mobile’ – more and more of us now have the latest smartphones which are capable of surfing the internet both through 3g networks and WIFI. Our new-found fondness for all things smartphone has firstly increased the number of Google searches through mobile devices and secondly had an impact on how we design and optimize our client’s websites to cater for this.
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Thanks to Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s Blackberry software, there has been an exponential explosion of smartphones hitting the market; the average consumer is presented with at least 20 different and competitive choices when shopping for a PDA or smartphone.
The ubiquity of these phones has forced most manufacturers to undercut prices to stay in the game against tougher competitors, which leads to an abundance of phones in consumers’ hands that are full of features like Wi-Fi, web browsing, MP3 playback, movie playback, etc. Countries like China are known for the majority of their internet/broadband users accessing websites and interacting with one another through mobile media rather than going home and logging onto their personal computers. More and more, businesses marketing to specific audiences are taking into consideration how their websites are viewed on mobile phones; this brings us to the question: how do I optimize my website for mobile media?
Overall, search engine optimization for mobile and smart phones isn’t vastly different from normal SEO practices for websites viewed on a desktop; however there are key concerns which desktop web developers don’t necessarily have to consider such as:
1. Website Resolution: Can the website be viewed correctly?
There are thousands of smart phones on the market that are available to consumers at varying prices which means that when designing a website to be veiwed on a phone you have to take into consideration that your iPhone touch screen isn’t the same size as a HTC Tough Diamond touch screen, nor do they share the same resolution.
2. Images: How many are there and where are they placed?
The amount of images you have is directly related to how long your website takes to load and, consequently, how long a person will stay there. Too many images obviously causes a longer download time (despite the revolutionary 3G network) and most users will immediately bounce off your page if what they’re looking for doesn’t come up fast enough. Images that are larger than the user’s screen will force them to scroll around just to see an entire image.
3. Filesize: Just how much content should you have?
Despite the rise in broadband networks and drop in data-usage plans, how much content and the total size of your webpage still directly influences how many hits your website will get from mobile phones. Many phone plans charge their subscribers based on how much data (bandwith) they use every time they log onto the web from their phone; which means the longer your site takes to load, the more you are costing a potential customer and the less likely they are to come back to your website.
4. Scrolling: How much should a person scroll before reaching content?
This is something that happens with normal websites viewed on computers at home or the office; who wants to scroll around just to get the content they need? The most important information should be available the moment a user logs onto your website to minimize your bounce rate.