Inertia is always a problem when you’re starting something new. The start seems like a very tall wall, and we often make that wall taller by imposing a lot of requirements and parameters on what needs to be done.

Mobile marketing must seem that way to a lot of companies, and as a result, far too many of them are sitting on the sidelines. Fortunately, there are a few vendors out there offering a shortcut to the mobile Web:  a turnkey publishing platform that allows a marketer to quickly deploy mobile landing pages.

The question is: how effective are these pages in the context of mobile search?

The Case For Mobile Landing Pages

Turnkey landing pages are usually considered because of special circumstance:

  • Budget. When most dollars get spent to support desktop sites, the remainder may not actually be enough to support a full-blown mobile effort.
  • Direct response campaigns. Sometimes a media campaign concept drives the need for mobile landing pages to catch the resulting traffic. QR codes at trade show booths, mobile offers sent via text, and even plain-old PPC ads can drive the need for a quickly-built mobile site.

The systems available to deploy mobile landing pages change every month. So rather than single-out a single platform and dissect its features, let’s look at the factors you’ll want to keep in mind when evaluating and using these services.

Laying A Foundation

The first thing you’ll want to investigate is whether or not these landing pages can be read by a search engine. Here are a few features to look at closely:

  • Dynamic Pages. Some turnkey systems use dynamic pages to quickly create pages that can respond to campaigns or even individual ads. Dynamic pages include lots of parameters in their URLs, and can cause problems for mobile search, just as they do in the desktop world.
  • On-Page Coding. Mobile landing pages sometimes use special coding to create a seamless app-like experience. I’ve talked about JQuery Mobile in the past, and there are other frameworks such as XUI, JQTouch, not to mention plain-vanilla JavaScript. These schemes don’t get a 100% thumbs-up or thumbs-down – it depends on how they are used. The key is to ensure that your landing pages are actually composed of distinct pages, instead of a single downloadable page with a chameleon-like ability to alter its content.
  • Navigation. If your turnkey site is built to catch campaign traffic, it may just be a collection of free-standing landing pages, with links to connect them to each other. If that’s the case, you won’t benefit from the SEO support these pages would lend to each other. Furthermore, without nav links, you may lose a connection back to the home page, which typically has the strongest SEO scoring.
  • Flash. Flash is not usually employed on these sites (thank you Steve Jobs) so that’s one less thing to worry about.

Getting There From Here

Looking at all the points above, you might get the impression that optimizing your mobile landing pages will be an end in itself. And it partially is: you’ll be living with them for a while, so it’s worthwhile to see what sort of SEO performance can be extracted from it.

But you can also take a broader view. If the turnkey site and its campaigns are successful, it’s likely that more mobile projects will follow, including the creation of a more comprehensive “official” mobile website.

With that in mind, your turnkey site can be considered a precursor, one that can be used to lay a foundation for the construction of a future brand presence.

A bit of preparation can help to make that happen:

  • Domain Name.  Try to anticipate the URL that will be used for your future mobile site. If you can start using that URL today, you’ll create a footprint that will help search engines discover your next website more quickly. Conversely, you should talk to your vendor if they suggest a URL based on *their* domain name, because you may lose access to it when you transition to your next mobile website.
  • Recyclable URLs. What works at the site level also works at the page level. Choosing locations for landing pages that will echo the page locations of a future website will also help smooth the transition. Granted, it’s hard to predict what your future site will look like, but for basic pages like “About Us” or pages promoting on your bread-and-butter product lines, some predictions can be made.

Mobile landing pages should echo future site design

Your short-term mobile landing pages (left) may not have as much content as your future mobile website (right.) But the more they resemble each other in structure, the better your mobile SEO will be down the road.

Altogether, mobile landing pages are a great tactic for getting yourself into the mobile space. And with advance planning, that short-term success can be leveraged into an asset that can feed into successive projects, creating a win-win for both mobile search and your time-to-market.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | How To: Mobile Marketing | Mobile Search | Search Ads: Mobile Search | Search Engines: Mobile Search Engines | Search Marketing: Mobile | SEO: Mobile Search

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About The Author: runs Skypromote, an SEO agency in Boston and NYC, and has been doing search since 1998. You can follow him on Twitter @SherwoodSEO.

Connect with the author via: Email



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  • sebuhi

    Thank you for the post. In my opinion it is time to use responsive css and not to divide page ranking between a mobile site and desktop site.

  • http://twitter.com/Tag_Vu TAG.VU

    Check out http://www.tag.vu (go to http://www.tag.vu/TagVu/Tour-CaseStudy.html) Some great examples of using CSS to create a userfriendly mobile experience.

  • GLIIF

    We have created an Advanced 2D tag for branding purposes. http://www.gliif.com

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/LEEFVPRGCX4ZEVMUCROWEVFB44 Joe B

    ramp.com

  • Elena PiJnz

    As developers of piJnz enterprise mobile cms and landing page platform we see many pages in all shapes and forms.  You are absolutely right, Mobile requires the same attention to detail as would a traditional site.

    Sebuhi – responsive CSS is a great solution for dynamically transforming some desktop content into a mobile-optimized format, however the landing pages for mobile campaigns are probably not a good candidate to simply mirror the desktop content. A short and very focused mobile landing pages generally convert better, and hand-crafting a focused mobile experience for a mobile ad is worth it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1581720010 Donny Schell

    I hate when I see an article on Google on my phone, click on it, then be taken to the mobile landing page instead of the story I clicked on. And I’m not able to find the story I wanted even after trying to search for it from the landing page. That should be fixed.

  • http://uk.rankfirst.info/ Simone Luciani

    Comprehensive and very useful. Mobile marketing is growing rapidly and marketers should work hard on campaign landing pages. 

  • http://twitter.com/K_J_Designs Keith James Designs

    We use both adaptive and responsive designs. It really depends on the use case. If the site is content rich, a responsive design is a better choice. We typically use adaptive design for sites that are more suited for immediate decisions making such as a restaurant. We also tend to segment landing pages, it really depends on the call to action the page is trying to accomplish.

 

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