SEO for SIRI: Optimizing Your Brand Exposure in a Handheld World

In their quest to obtain a number one rank, search engine optimizers often miss the growing opportunity in front of them. In today’s world  fewer and fewer searchers are sitting at a desktop machine and are instead Googling from their smartphone or tablet.

Novice SEOs dont realize that search results are displayed differently for mobile searchers (especially those using assistants like Siri) and different optimization techniques are needed to win on the mobile web. Below, we explore the five major tactics you should implement this week.

Design a Mobile-Friendly Website

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There are two primary best practices that need to be followed above all else. The first is mobile site design. If there is one thing that Google has always valued above all else it’s a terrific user experience. For smartphone and tablet users, nothing is more frustrating than a clunky design intended for desktops squeezed down and half-rendered on their small screens.

The best mobile websites focus on condensing the wealth of information presented on the standard homepage into its barest of essentials. When creating your page, focus on the following:

  • Speed: Because high-speed service varies by location,  your mobile site should be as lightweight and nimble as possible.
  • Navigation: Remember, a person on a mobile device isn’t using a mouse to navigate around. Try to make your buttons as big and clear as possible.
  • Brand recognition: While your mobile site should make scarce use of resource-hungry images, it still needs to display your logo and make use of brand colors.

For those without the resources or ability to create entirely new mobile website, there are WordPress plug-ins and other apps that can automatically convert your site for mobile. Unfortunately, these typically offer less customization and flexibility than starting from scratch.

Consider Your Mobile Content Carefully

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The second “gotta have it” best practice is mobile-specific content. At first, you might not understand the difference between your standard content and your mobile content, but a quick thought exercise should clear up any confusion. Imagine that you are are in the shoes of your typical customer. In what situations would you wind up on your website while on the go from a mobile device?

If you are a restaurant for example, the answer might be to call you with a question, make an online reservation, or to read your menu before stopping in.  Whatever the case might be for your business, this is the content that needs to be prominently featured on the home page of your mobile site. All other ancillary content (such as blog posts, company history, and photo galleries) should be minimized or left out entirely.

Display Mobile Site Appropriately

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If you have a mobile website rendering laser-targeted mobile content, you’ve laid the groundwork that makes the all other mobile SEO tactics worth it. The next step is to make sure that your new page is shown only to surfers on mobile devices, and that your regular website is shown to everyone else.

This task sounds more difficult than it actually is, and can be accomplished through the use of mobile redirects that recognize the source of the traffic and serve up the appropriate site. If you are having trouble putting this redirect together on your own, services like MobileMoxie can get the job done quickly and easily.

Get Your Site In The Local Listings

Many mobile search aids such as SIRI draw influence over the results they show from local directory listings. Make sure that your website is present and properly categorized in services such as:

  1. Yelp!
  2. Yahoo! Local
  3. Google Places
  4. City Search
  5. Google Plus Local

Don’t just passively list in these directories. Make the absolute most of the services by adding photographs, complete contact information, and actual customer reviews to bolster your profile among the others. The more complete and impressive your profiles are, the greater value they will contribute to your mobile SEO efforts.

Get Your Site Active On Social Rating Sites

By now, every business on the face of the planet understands that being active on social networks like Twitter and Facebook are important. However, mobile search brings a new set of social sites into the equation – social rating sites.

Social rating sites are communities in which users can review and rate local businesses and share their thoughts with the cloud. In keeping with the restaurant example from earlier, you’d want to turn your attention to Urban Spoon, a website that helps food enthusiasts review their experiences dining out. Others include Trip Advisor, Foursquare, and Yelp. The signals your community send out about your business make a big difference in how well your site ranks in the mobile world.

Diversify From Pay Per Click

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On a final note, many businesses rely heavily on pay-per-click for search visibility. However, it is important to note that this advertising channel is largely ignored by Siri and most other mobile search assistants. Regardless of your ad quality or the keywords you bid on for regular search, in Siri’s eyes it as though you’re not there at all.

So, does that mean you should stop advertising via pay per click for your mobile site? Far from it! In fact, in Google Adwords, you should develop an entirely separate mobile campaign with ads aimed specifically at handheld users. As you set up a new campaign, you’ll have the option to display ads to mobile devices only, and splitting your advertising up this way enables you to closely monitor your performance on mobile.

But just don’t expect Siri to notice you this way. You’ll still need to follow all the other steps listed above to be relevant in her discerning results.