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Mobile Search, its future and how to optimize it

28 Jan
January 28, 2007

Mobile search

What is mobile search?
Mobile Search is an evolving service centred around the convergence of search engines and mobile phones. The services allow users an easier way to browse for the growing quantity of content that is being specifically written for, or adapted for, mobile phones.

I was doing some research on mobile search. I have been hearing a lot of things about it and since I know someone over in china they told me how much mobile search is actually used in other countries. Mobile search is pretty widely used in other countries and is gaining exposure in the U.S.. Some of the reason’s why mobile search has not caught on in the U.S. as vigorusly as in other countries are as follows:

1) Mobile phones in the united states are not as state of the art as phones in china and japan and are not compatible with many java applets being used.
2) The amount of people using mobile search is limited (for now)
3) The ability to use mobile search is limited and yet still growing
4) No search infrastructure has been developed in the U.S. that will work across multiple devices.
5) Different browsers and different phones render differently

Since the emergence of higher quality and more technologically advanced phones like the iphone, Blackberry and Nokia E61 (there are many others that have this capability) more phones can browse the internet MUCH easier and with a higher resolution and display capabilities. The problem is that there is still a need to develop a strong infrastructure that can be displayed across mulitple devices.

How does mobile search differ from Computer based search?
Matt Tengler said something interesting over at which he lined out in 3 easy steps.

  • Content: “Currently, mobile content is dominated by mobile consumables, such as ring tones,” he said.
  • Form factor: “The first page becomes the first few search results,” he said.
  • Opportunities: “A personal device is always on,” he said, “presenting more customized advertising opportunities.”

So how do we design sites for mobile search?
Pretty simple actually. Have your designer build an additional CSS file that is specific for mobile devices. Remember to always validate these files as with normal PC-web viewing un validated code is much more forgiving then mobile search.

How do you optimize for mobile search?
Mobile search is another section of our favorite search engines. When considering optimization for mobile search its like thinking about foriegn optimization. Obviosly mobile search is not as far behind as foriegn search but it does take some modification’s and you cannot just expect to rank well. So far the standard rules apply to mobile optimization but here are somethings you might want to consider.

1) Build a CSS mobile search external document
2) Move your main navigation to the bottom and use jump links on the top of your page. The reason for this is because when rendering on a mobile device more larger navigations take of 2/3rds of a pages on a mobile device.
3) Submit your sites to mobile search engines. Currently submissions are key. Use Yahoo mobile and Google Mobile.
4) Use one site in order to optimize on regular search and mobile
5) Use basic SEO processes and don’t stray
6) Make sure you are not disallowing mobile crawlers from spidering your site

Here are some other great resources for optimizing your mobile search.

Mobile search monopoly and search software
A lot of phones come with search engines embeded into the phone which means these search engines are paying to be placed on these phones. This raises some concerns as its possible for search domination but there are applications you can download to search your favorite engines. Here are some.

Google Mobile
Google’s SMS service
MSN Mobile
MSN Mobile Portal
Infospace Mobile
Palm and Windows
Ask Mobile
AOL Mobile
Yahoo Mobile
windows live search
Nokia Mobile Search
MTV Mobile

I wanted to leave you with a great video from cindy from blue moon works about mobile optmization.

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    4 replies
    1. ReTodd says:

      Funny you should post this now…I was out of town for 4 days and found myself using my Verizon V to surf and used google quite often. I wish Verizon had a better browser, cause theirs is a POS (Peice Of Sh!@t).
      I found that if a site was created with semantic xhtml/css markup, and images weren’t too large in file size, the browser would render it pretty nicely.
      I do agree about the jump links at the top, but also on the bottom, as I found it very tedious to scroll up and down in the “browser”.

    2. Charles Knight says:

      O responses so far?? This is really an excellent piece which is going to be well worth studying.

      I just hope the author doesn’t have anything against plagarism (that’s a joke).

      Well done!

    3. Kyle E says:

      Old School – Jump Links~!

    4. Liz Cohen says:

      Hi Joe Whyte

      I came across Seo Consulting and thought I’d fill you in on Mobile Answers, a phone-friendly version of for your Treo, Blackberry or any other smartphone.

      Clarify unfamiliar terms you come across in emails from your phone. Settle trivia bets while you’re sitting at the bar. Get familiar with your surroundings on business trips. Mobile Answers is located at and makes available the massive, virtual library at 4 million topics, in your pocket, without any downloading.

      Try it out, and if you like it, we’d love to see you blog about it. Feel free to pass this to fellow bloggers or submit your blog to the Blog Directory.

      Liz Cohen
      Chief BlogWatcher”
      Submit your blog to the Blog Directory.

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