It wasn’t really all that long ago that business owners realized they needed a website in order for their company to compete against all the others. Now, with nearly as many people surfing the Internet via mobile devices as through desktop computers, it is important to have not just a traditional website but one that is accessible from smartphones and tablets. Even more importantly, if you want customers to find your mobile site, it is imperative to optimize it so that it ranks highly within Google’s search results.

While mobile device use for surfing the Web is growing at a rapid rate, studies have shown that companies are not developing proper mobile sites nearly fast enough. In fact, a recent study found that only 16 percent of 250 businesses surveyed have a mobile strategy that is geared toward attracting customer engagement. Of those, only 14 percent said they were satisfied with the direction their company was taking in the mobile market. Getting in front of the mobile Internet market can be a definite advantage for any company. This doesn’t mean simply throwing together a version of a desktop website. There are some special considerations that should be taken into account when developing a mobile website.

  • Design – Although Google technically supports different types of website designs, it favors those that can recognize that a user is operating on a mobile device and can automatically direct them from the desktop site to a mobile one. It is also possible to develop a separate mobile site using an “m.” preceding the home website, but Google actually prefers the responsive website that redirects users. In order to compete, it might be best to just go with the Google-recommended site.
  • Know mobile’s limitations – While desktop web surfers use a mouse to get around pages and have larger screens, mobile users are often on the move and have little time for moving around a web page. The need for scrolling should be kept to a minimum by keeping the most important information prominent. The rest can be added to other pages. Limit the amount of text that needs to be entered by the user since many will be operating on a small virtual keyboard. This can be done by offering drop down menus or checklists. Also, images should be sized on a percentage basis rather than by setting a particular pixel size. Allow users the option to revert to the main website.
  • Focus on keywords – All websites need to concentrate on the keywords that they want to rank for in Google. However, it becomes even more important for mobile because those using smart phones likely will not look beyond the first three or four listings. Use Google Analytics to monitor which keywords are used to access your website, and then focus on the more prominent ones.
  • Coding – Be sure to use compact HTML or XHTML mobile files within the website. These let Google know the website really is ready for a mobile audience.

Catering to the mobile audience is increasingly more important for website owners. Doing so means focusing more on the layout and providing alternative ways for entering information. This may require more work, but the larger audience and increased sales it can lead to will be worth it.