So you’ve built a mobile version of your website to target iPhone, Android, and Blackberry users. Congratulations! This can do wonders for creating increases in mobile traffic and subsequent conversions, especially when optimization includes local factors. The next step is to follow the appropriate steps to properly inform search engines of the existence and dimensions of the site:
- Create Webmaster accounts for Google, Yahoo!, and Bing
- Submit site URL to search engines
- Create and submit Mobile XML Sitemaps
- Create and submit Mobile Robots.txt files
If you don’t already have Webmaster Accounts set up for your regular site, do it now! They’re free and lend great insight into site performance and signify any indexation issues.
From the Webmaster Accounts for your desktop site, you can submit your mobile URL by selecting “add a site” as you would any other site. If the mobile site lives at another sub-domain (http://mobile.orbitz.com) or TLD (http://wapedia.mobi/), the site will have to be verified. However, if the mobile site lives in a subfolder of the regular company site (https://www.bankofamerica.com/mobile/), verification is unnecessary and the mobile folder will be segmented as a separate account.
XML Sitemaps are an important feature to implement on websites that indicate all of the pages very efficiently to search engines. Since mobile sitemaps use a unique mobile tag in the XML code, mobile and desktop XML sitemaps should be distinct from one another.
Sitemaps can be easily created using one of a slew of online automated XML sitemap generators. Although most online generators provide standard sitemaps free of charge, there is normally a fee for mobile XML sitemap creation. We recommend the Sitemap Generator V3.0 from Xml-Sitemaps.com, which costs $19.99. This will allow you to set change frequency and priority levels of pages on your mobile site.
A reliable free alternative is to write the sitemap out by hand (realistic if there are a relatively few number of pages that need to be listed). Sitemaps.org is a great resource for understanding XML Sitemap Protocol.
Once the mobile sitemap is complete, upload to the root folder of your mobile site, test it with an online sitemap validator, and submit to each webmaster account. Read more about Google’s mobile XML sitemaps standards.
Although it was customary a couple of years ago to block the desktop site in the mobile robots.txt file and vice versa, this is no longer necessary since desktop URLs are normally showing up in search results. However, mobile robots.txt files should still be created to block any internal site search results and private data. These should also be submitted to each webmaster account.
As we move in the direction of web ubiquity, mobile search engines have become more inclined to list “desktop” URLs in search results, leaving it to sight owners to implement user agent detection in order to redirect mobile users accordingly. In my next article, I will discuss the ins and outs of user agent detection as it relates to mobile search. In the meantime, set up your webmaster accounts and submit your mobile site!