Mobile web browsing is gaining popularity and acceptance thanks to the extensive proliferation of iPhones and other mobile appliances with surf-friendly interfaces. As a result it is becoming more and more important to offer a mobile-friendly alternative to your current website.

The reality is, however, that many website owners seem to have no inclination to spend money on a medium that (as far as they know) is unproven and could generate zero income. Fortunately there is a way for every website owner to create an alternative to their website and not only is it exceedingly simple but it is FREE. Now no one has an excuse to ignore this growing medium!


Before I begin I have great news for WordPress users! If your blog or website is run on WordPress there is a simple plug-in you can install that will make your website instantly mobile friendly!! That means that part of this article will not be useful to you but I can assure you a great deal of it is still worthwhile reading; I touch on mobile optimization, promotion, and mobile behavioral profiling.

 

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:

  • Repetitive Now: users that are repetitively checking the same information (i.e. stocks, sports scores, weather, etc.).
  • Bored Now: users who want to surf the web while they wait.
  • Urgent Now: users that need information immediately. These are task based users who want a fast, clean and efficient mobile experience.

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 purchased already.

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.

Mobile Discovery

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:

  • Make sure the file size of the page is as low as possible to minimize load times.

  • Order the navigation keeping in mind what links visitors are most likely to want to click first.

  • JavaScript, Frames, Flash, and pop-ups are examples of technologies not supported by most mobile devices with the exception of most Smartphones.

  • Choose to optimize only keywords comprised of 2 to 3 words because mobile searchers tend not to type in more than 2 or 3 word searches.

  • Title tags, description Meta tags, heading tags and filenames should be carefully crafted with target keywords to maximize the little optimizable content available.

  • Ensure that all phone numbers within your mobile content are formatted to be clickable; this will allow visitors to call you simply by clicking on a link.

  • For those creating a site from scratch you will want to design the website so that the main navigation utilizes "accesskeys" for faster keyboard navigation; this is automatically done within mobiSiteGalore. For example, for a person to access the first menu item they would press the #1 on their phone. Here is an example of how a simple hyperlink can be upgraded to offer this functionality:
    <a href="http://news.stepforth.com/blog/ " accesskey="1" target="_blank">Press #1 To Visit the StepForth SEO Blog</a>

  • Ensure your mobile website offers an XML sitemap for search engine spiders to rapidly index it. This option is already brilliantly included in mobiSiteGalore.

  • If your mobile content has its own top-level-domain (TLD) such as StepForth.mobi then you should register this domain with Google Webmaster Tools. Once you are registered submit your mobile sitemap so you can monitor how Google is crawling your mobile website and address any issues that may arise.

    How To: Submit your sitemap under "Sitemaps" + "Add Sitemap" and then select "Mobile Sitemap" from the types of sitemaps available to submit. Once you have it submitted the "Mobile Crawl" report is found under "Diagnostics" after you access your verified mobile domain in Google Webmaster Tools. Here are some concise instructions from Google on adding a mobile sitemap if you find you require assistance.

  • Submit your mobile sitemap to Yahoo Site Explorer as well after you have verified your account. Here are some tips from Yahoo on creating a great mobile website.

 

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.


In Conclusion

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.

 


May 1, 2008





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.






Comments(16)

Great article. You covered a lot in this article - mobile site creation, promotion (traffic-building) and mobile SEO too. Safe to say this is a power-packed post =:)

wow, mobile SEO. i like it. thanks for you great info.

Great article! You are fabulous Ross!

Wow! This is very informative. I've got to try this. Thanks for your post!

FANTASTIC EFFORT - THANKS!!!

Just the information I need because Iam going to have to launch my own mobile site since is getting to popular :-)

Greetings from Kansas!

Thank you for an excellent article. I'd been trying to get started with a mobile-friendly website for weeks. Your article gave me the breakthough. I just wish I had read it earlier.

It is a very informative article

Thanks ,Ross! Over here at Spoken X Digital Media Group, we'd like to thank you on all the helpful tips pushing off-the-web content into a new era of opportunity--::

You're just keep talking about mobisitegalore while there are many other competing tools and you dont give a clear reason why you chose it as the best.
It would be fair if you score some mobile site creation tools (including mobisitegalore) according to various services they offer.
And dont forget that the competitors are improving their services too !

After a test building with a couple of the mobile site creation I would say mobisitegalore has the most to off BUT placing RSS feeds in pages is really messed up, it's not working right now.

Winksite does not have the formatting features like mobisitegalore, but still looks nice and everything I've tested there does work.

Hi there, thanks for the excellent article. Your "assembled instructions" and "other options" links aren't working - would love to see that content - need all the help I can get with this stuff - again thanks for all the great info.

Hello Ross, congratulations for this well-documented article. Mobile websites are trendy now as it saves your cellphone bill (by saving the amount of data transferred to your phone).

There's a service that I'm using for my blog that allows you to create a mobile subdomain (like m.yourwebsite.com) and import the data to your mobile website using RSS. The website is here: http://www.wap-gen.com

Thank you!

Great Article. Thanks Ross!

Thanks for the link to the plugin.

On one blog I found the link easymobilizer.com. They charge nominal fee. Because you have experience with mobisitegalore.com, can you please compare both? which one to use?

thanks.

Great article.

I would add to the mix, consider using a mobile website template. This way you make sure you roll with a professionally designed website, which has been also tested on multiple platforms. Easy way to get your site up in no time.

Check this out: www.movetodotmobi.com

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Search Engine Guide > Ross Dunn > How to Simply Create Your Own Mobile Website