Preparing for Improvements in Mobile Search Algorithms

by Gary on June 5, 2008 · 1 comment

in SEO,Website Design

Mobile devices are so popular nowadays that the traffic that mobile search brings can no longer be discounted. Because of this plenty of websites now offer mobile versions of their website. If you already have a mobile site though you should make sure that you stay informed about the changes/improvements done by search engines in relation to mobile search to ensure that your mobile site is optimised for mobile search.

One of the improvements in mobile search that you can expect Google to focus on in predictive search. We know this because of a paper published by two Google employees, Maryam Kamvar and Shumeet Baluja, titled Query Suggestions for Mobile Search: Understanding Usage Patterns. The paper revealed that:

  • users rely heavily on query suggestions, and that;
  • users will accept a correct suggestion quickly

Because of these findings Kamvar and Baluja concluded that:

  1. Mobile search results should show as many suggestions in a small list as possible
  2. Suggestion lists should show a constant number of suggestions (thus maximise space usage compared to instances wherein only a couple of results are suggested)
  3. Suggestions viewed 3 times should NOT be displayed as a suggestion again and should instead be replaced with another suggestion
  4. Suggestions that result in lots of key presses should be replaced

While these findings and conclusions mostly are the concern of search engines (since they’re the ones who have to figure out a way to implement the changes) web designers and SEO will do well to prepare for the upcoming changes.

For web designers what this means is that they should ensure that the mobile site is designed for efficient navigation so that the number of key presses are reduced once the user arrives on the website. This means concise content and an efficient information architecture.

For SEOs what this means is that they should ensure that mobile pages are optimised for really relevant keywords. You wouldn’t want to be listed for not so relevant keywords because if you get listed 3 times without being clicked on by users if Google listens to this paper’s conclusion it would mean that your site would be replaced by another suggestion. Another reason why you should be more careful in keyword selection is that you would want users to be directed to the exact page they want to be in or at least just be a couple of clicks away. Again as the research suggests links that lead to an increase in key presses will be replaced by a link that does not lead to as much key presses.

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  • Kun

    In mobile search, not only should the results pages be concise and relevant, the key to webmasters and marketers is to create really really relevant landing pages. I’m sure the user patience is far less when surfing on a phone.