In the last few weeks there has been some heated debate over the importance of SEO. For those not familiar with the letters, this is Search Engine Optimization. In other words, it is the ‘keywords,’ ‘tags’ and other ‘stuff’ that get your Web site ranked higher than others when someone does a Web search. Since the Web exploded to the mainstream more than a decade ago, a whole industry has been built around SEO.
Recently, there have been cries that SEO is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. This issue heated up when PC Magazine’s John Dvorak basically equated SEO experts to snake oil salesmen. As a matter of full disclosure this writer must come clean as well: in the mid-1990s I worked at a public relations and marketing firm, and my job as a “New Media Specialist” involved search engine ranking, generating Web traffic and basically all the SEO stuff. Back then we just didn’t call it SEO. That came later. And with adwords and other new factors, SEO is big business.
Further complicating matters now is the issue of smartphones, the iPhone and WAP pages. Because mobile handsets don’t have the same display capabilities as a fully-fledged PC browser, the mobile Web was built differently… as in WAP pages. Thus a growing business in the past year has been SEO for mobile. But now the rise of the iPhone and other smartphones, which can access full HTML Web pages, there is no reason for mobile specific content to index and rank.
Likewise the debate over SEO was brought up last week at the Mobile World Congress, and the feeling is that SEO is SEO, and the best practice for mobile sites is to use the same title tags, keywords, meta tags and links so all search engines, desktop/laptop or mobile based, would see the same “stuff.”
The problem says critics is that mobile sites are accessed and used differently. People searching on a mobile handset are often on the go so they may want to find different things. The solution according to these critics is to make a move to mobile browsers that can support full HTML pages.
There is likely to be no quick solution, and in the mean time we’re likely to see more SEO confusion on the mobile front.
Despite the SEO concerns, mobile revenue is likely to rise. ClickZ.com is reporting that the U.S. mobile advertising sector is likely to continue to grow as adoption of handsets, notably those aforementioned smartphones, rise. According to a new report by The Kelsey Group, “Going Mobile: The Mobile Local Media Opportunity,” advertising revenues for U.S. mobile is expected to rise from $150 million in 2008 to $3.1 billion in 2013.
Mobile Web Continues to Grow Internationally
Whether you can find what you’re searching for or not, the mobile Web isn’t going anywhere. That’s the latest findings from Opera’s State of the Mobile Web, which found that Opera Mini use jumped 12.1 percent in January and Armenia led all countries in this growth. Nigeria was second with 18.54 percent, while Egypt saw 13.91 percent growth and Kazakhstan saw 4.19 percent growth. But it appears that this popular mobile browser is really gaining steam in the Middle East.
In fact, the current top 10 countries using Opera Mini in the Middle East are: Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon and Yemen.
“Looking back on a full year of mobile Web growth, it is easy to see why mobile devices will become the primary device for Web usage in most of the world,” said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera. “Developing countries may lead the way due to the sheer prevalence of mobile devices versus PCs, but the solid growth rates in developed countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, show that the entire world is moving in this direction. These numbers underscore how critical it is that all Web-enabled devices come equipped with a quality Web browser.”
There is still going to be much room for mobile, and thus mobile Web growth in 2009. According to a new study from TechWeb’s Light Reading, mobile subscriptions in Latin America have serious growth potential. The Market Spotlight, which ranks the top 10 Latin American markets by service revenues and per-population service penetrations found that the region’s two largest markets, Brazil and Mexico, still have plenty of room for expansion for mobile service providers. So while China and even Africa are using mobile phones heavily, the Latin America market trails, which means opportunity.