With the evolution of iPhone, the mobile browsing experience has been taken to a different level all together. Recent stats shows that people change their cell phones every 2 years.
The number of people gaining access to the better web experience on their phones is increasing quickly. It is reasonable to assume that a large portion of the US will be accessing the web from mobile devices with a rendering experience similar to the iPhone in the near future.
There are different options that a company can explore to ensure mobile presence on the web:
Option 1. Do nothing
If you website renders well on a mobile browser when transcoded, you don’t have to do anything. Keep it as is!
Option 2. Sub-domain approach
Mobile only Pages (tiny pages for tiny screens). Mobile.domain.com
Disadvantage of this approach – Managing two sets of pages. One for your website and one for mobile only.
Option 3. Multiple CSS for ‘screen’ vs ‘handheld’
Disadvantages? Not 100% reliable. Some phones like the IPhone won’t pull the right stylesheet since they believe in the true browsing experience.
Option 4. Dynamic Mobile Pages
Deploy IT to detect device and transcode based on mobile device.
Disadvantages? You constantly have to update your database when new software is released or new makes/models of devices are introduced.
Whichever option you decide to go with is realy based on available resources and specific business needs. Below are the SEO Best practices to follow while developing your mobile website:
- Use traditional SEO practices – Use title tags (upto 63 characters or less). Alt tags
- Submit your website to Mobile Search engines
- Do your Mobile research – Understanding of predictive text – Optimize for perdictive words that users enter while searching
- Transcoding analysis – understand how different search engines change your website. Websites are changed to be appropriately be viewed on different handheld devices.
- Emulation and testing – test your site on a variety of emulators and also test it on real handsets.
- Mobile specific analytics – Normal analytics programs wont work for mobile websites. Try awstats or google analytics.
- Adhere to accessibility standards – check out http://www.w3.org/Mobile/ for more info
- Use external sylesheets – This helps the page load faster
There is no definitive set of architecture best practices because of the number of different browsers on different mobile phones. Whatever option you choose, test it thoroughly accross different phones. The top phones using mobile search are iPhone, Motorola Razr and Blackberry.
Contributed by: Ritika Chugh, Milestone Inc.