First Make a Plan
Before you create your mobile website you need to determine what it is going to offer. For example, you may be a service provider and wonder why would anyone would want to visit your website using a mobile device. According to this InformationWeek article, Google breaks mobile users into three behavioral camps that really rings true, according to my personal mobile experience. These are:
For the purposes of this article let's accept that that anyone visiting your website from a mobile device falls into the Bored Now and Urgent Now ballparks. So in this context users want to quickly acquire your contact information or they want to read your latest blog post. Great, the hard work is done! Now that you know why people may visit your mobile website you can begin creating it.
What Free Mobile Website Solution is Best?
There are many ways to create a mobile website that cost you money but very few high quality options are available for free. I offer two options that I prefer so far: one is using mobiSiteGalore to create a website very simply one page at a time, and the other is meant only for those with an aim to provide mobile access to their RSS feed content.
Option 1) The Answer for a
Complete Mobile Website
I started this article researching and writing about various free mobile solutions but ultimately I found mobiSiteGalore. I realized I was wasting my time so I deleted all of my research; none of the competing tools seemed to measure up. mobiSiteGalore was the only 100% free service I found with an amazing site creation wizard and the option to host the freely created website wherever without strings attached; they openly state they make their money from donations and licensing agreements with large hosting companies.
Here is a link to a web viewer that will allow you to see the mobile website I created for StepForth this week using mobiSiteGalore. Unfortunately it isn't perfect quite yet but its getting there.
Option 2) How to Easily Provide
Access to Your RSS Content
Do you have an RSS feed from a blog or a great news mashup you created that you think would be great for your mobile visitors to read? If so Google offers a mobile conversion tool that happens to do an excellent job of converting RSS feeds into a mobile-friendly web page; it also tries to convert complete websites but that isn't often as successful. All you have to do is enter the URL of your RSS feed and voila! The result will be a beautifully formatted page based on the feed content.
Here is an example of how Search Engine Guide's RSS feed looks after this simple mobile conversion. Note how, if you click on any of the articles, you are taken to a page that is also formatted for mobile; so at no time within the first level of content (one click from the main page) are you shown unconverted content. This capability is exceptionally slick because if you were to simply point mobile visitors to your unconverted RSS feed and they were to click on an article they would be taken to the non-mobile version; a very bad idea that can cost viewers a lot of money (sadly this is especially true in Canada) while they try to download unwieldy images on their mobile device.
Once you have converted your RSS feed just copy and paste the URL into a note pad for later use. Now in order to provide access to this new mobile content you or your Webmaster has to create a 301 redirect in a section of your website which will be used to send mobile visitors to the mobile-friendly content (the URL you saved).
So what area of the website should be home to your mobile
content? I recommend using either www.xyzname.com/mobile/ or m.xyzname.com or the
.mobi version of your domain name (xyzname.mobi) which you have hopefully
Ultimately, pointing your mobile users to this external Google website (even if it is still your content) is not the most desirable option but if it means not having mobile content at all I would suggest at least having this option until you are ready to invest the time to create a complete website with mobiSiteGalore or hire a professional designer.
So now you have taken the time to create some mobile-friendly content for your website. How do people find it? No I don't mean SEO (that's coming later), what I mean is how can you send your mobile-friendly information to a visitor before you scare them off with the unfriendly content? The answer is dependant upon the programming language your website was built on. If your website is built using PHP, ASP or ColdFusion I have assembled instructions for you to properly redirect mobile traffic. If your website is simply using HTML then you may need to try the less accurate .htaccess redirect option I presented in the "Other Options" section of the redirect tutorial. If you are not using any of those programming languages previously noted (highly unlikely) then I am afraid you will have to invest in your own research; when you get the answer please let me know (email me: ross at stepforth dot com) of the solution so I can list it on the page.
Mobile Content Optimization
Mobile content is optimized similarly to normal web content except that optimizers must keep in mind that they usually have significantly less content to optimize so every word must count.
Here are my top tips specifically for optimizing mobile content:
Mobile Content Promotion
Once your mobile content is online and ready for prime time I strongly suggest creating some buzz about your achievement using the following techniques:
1) Launch a press release using PRWeb; aside from the added publicity this action will provide some short and long term link popularity to your new content.
2) Submit your mobile website to the growing list of mobile-only web directories. Here are a few sites to start with:
3) Include your mobile content address on your business card and other stationary so that prospects can preview your services/products at convenient times. In this day to day hectic world it really pays to have sales content available at nearly any stage of a prospect's busy day.
The advent of a great number of web accessible mobile devices over the past year is radically increasing the validity of having a mobile website and thanks to sites like mobiSiteGalore it is not that much work to make one. Take some time and invest in the creation of a small but efficient mobile website so you at least know you have another base covered in the realm of online marketing. You can also take some satisfaction in knowing you are one-step ahead of the Jones'... for now.
Ross Dunn is the CEO of StepForth Web Marketing Inc., a web marketing company founded in 1997 and based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. StepForth provides cutting-edge search engine optimization services that provide highly successful, targeted results for its clientele. Ross Dunn is a Certified Internet Marketing and Business Strategist (CIMBS) with a background in web design and business management. His broad Internet experience in combination with a talented staff has made StepForth a name synonymous with top results.
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