I mentioned in a recent blog post that 2012 would be the year when mobile search and optimising sites for mobile really takes off for mainstream sites. At the moment it’s still very patchy out there, with even many big, reputable brands failing to catch on to the importance of optimising for mobile browsers. Yet the truth is that a very significant proportion of people are now regularly using mobile devices to search the net and browse websites. If you haven’t yet begun this process then make sure you bookmark this blog because throughout this year I plan to provide a complete guide to creating, optimising and marketing a mobile compatible version of your website.

mobile browsers

You remember when everyone was fixated on Google, and that the cunning marketers looked at Yahoo and Bing and realised that with a lot less effort they could achieve spectacular placings and enjoy the 30% of internet traffic everyone else was missing? At the moment it’s a little like that with mobile devices. There are massive numbers of people who are browsing the web using iPhones, Blackberries and other such devices, and those companies not optimising for these devices are very likely to be losing out.

Many people using mobile devices will be using a 3G network to connect, which means that when optimising a site for mobile it’s best to think back to the days of dialup internet connections. Remember that image sizes could be a problem, and often Flash is not supported at all. If your web pages are large in terms of file size, are stuffed with images, include Flash or other non mobile compatible plugins then you could lose people instantly.

But it’s not just about creating a website which is less image heavy, less stuffed full of gizmos and interactive flashy things. It’s about creating a website which delivers what people want immediately. It’s a return to function over form.

When people search for information using a mobile device they aren’t looking to be impressed by your cool navigation bar, or your shiny logo or other geeky features. They want raw, unadulterated information, and they want it now.

But also, remember that when people are searching on mobile devices they are either relaxing and open to persuasion, such as when having a coffee, sitting on the bus or in a taxi or just slumped in front of the television, or they are frantically looking for information straight away, such as right before an urgent meeting. Capitalising on these two audiences means you could grab your easiest customers yet, with just a little bit of effort that frankly shouldn’t take very long at all.

First of all, let me offer two quick bits of useful information: how to redirect people using mobile devices to a mobile version of your website, and how to ensure Google identifies the two different versions of your site correctly.

1. How to redirect mobile browsers

There are several methods for achieving this, including PHP and JavaScript. I would never recommend using a method which redirects users of only one platform, such as iPhone users, as this shuts out a huge amount of potential traffic. Instead, one of the simplest methods I have come across is to use the following JavaScript divert script which will identify a browser with a small screen size and redirect to, in this example, ‘mobile.html’:

<script type=”text/javascript”>
<!–
if (screen.width <= 699) {
document.location = “mobile.html”;
}
//–>
</script>

2. How to ensure Google identifies the two different versions of your site

One way of doing this is to use the ‘m’ sub domain. So if your website address is ‘www.mylovelydomain.com‘ then create a sub domain called ‘m’ and use this for your mobile site, so that the JavaScript above would redirect to ‘www.m.mylovelydomain.com‘.

Do you have any questions about optimising your site for mobile browsers? What would you like to see here? Post your questions and requests below and I’ll try to provide answers and help in future posts.

Like this post? Click on the Google+1 button at the top of this page

 

 

Image Credit: http://www.ascendercorp.com/