The ecosystem surrounding the mobile Web is very different than that of the traditional Web, with many key differences in everything from display advertising to search- the latter of which requiring a completely different set of rules to be noticed.
With traditional search, SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is key to getting your site noticed in the seemingly never-ending reach of the Internet, but with mobile search, the methodology is far different. While certain optimization is still needed to make sure people can find your mobile site, location is the primary attribute that determines who sees your site and when.
With emphasis taken away from overall optimization and put towards location, how does one make sure their mobile site is noticed by the right audience at the right time? Put simply, you don’t, and that’s a mobile optimization question that’s yet to be answered. For sites that have no location-relevance, the same SEO techniques that work on the traditional Web will work to some degree on the mobile Web as well. For those with sites and business listings that are location-aware, such as retail locations, small businesses and local service providers, you’re more or less at the mercy of the devices your target audience is carrying.
Whether or not your target audience is equipped with devices that are location-aware, meaning one of the increasingly abundant GPS-enabled devices, determines whether the location-aware algorithms in place in search engines will serve your site or business listing. Unlike optimization, this is an aspect that’s out of the control of the site owner.
For example, a local business owner in St. Louis who runs a flower shop would normally develop a traditional Website and optimize it to rank well for basic keywords such as “flowers in St. Louis,” or “cheap flowers in Missouri.” When targeting mobile, however, those keywords are irrelevant. That business owner has to rely on users searching for “flowers,” and being within a geographic proximity to their business.
The rules of mobile SEO and techniques of utilizing so-called “location-optimization” are yet to be written, but one thing’s for sure- the landscape is rapidly changing to a more mobile-focused ecosystem, and many aspects will have to change on numerous levels to keep up.