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Monday, July 18, 2011

Tablet SEO: Similar Algorithm, Different Search Intent

Many are calling an end to Mobile SEO with the introduction of smartphones and Tablets. Long gone are the days of SMS optimization & .mobi domain extensions, but one thing remains true, search intent is unique to the device.

Local Search Intent
Many of us that are using smartphones to access Google are still looking for local restaurants, bars, shopping & auto repair (to name a few). A customer may not want to buy a $1,000 Home Theater from Best Buy on their mobile phone but they do want to know the closest store that has that item in stock. We are still accessing Google search to find organic listings that help us with local tasks. Whether a first generation smartphone or iPhone 4, we still need to use SEO on our mobile website to fill a need that the mobile user wants to fill.

Mobile Search Intent
Many consider Desktops and Laptops as similar search intent when accessing Google search. The laptop is more mobile than a desktop and can be used at a local starbucks or at home on a wireless modem. Both are used in a similar fashion, the laptop giving more freedom to log on anywhere where as most desktops are in a fixed location. SEO for desktops and laptops is very similar in nature.

Tablet SEO
Tablets are starting to take over for Laptops, giving us even more flexibility to go about our business without a bulky laptop in tow. The tablet, being more like a smartphone, is more attractive to those using a smartphone but need a bigger interface similar to a laptop. This brings new challenges for SEO, more than just clicking the button in Google Adwords to include iPads for search campaign ads. The search intent and use is much different, and warrants a new SEO department, Tablet SEO.

The Tablet offers more freedom to use during work and play. It is not portable enough to replace the iPhone in your pocket but is easier to use than a laptop in your everyday life, especially if you are out and about a lot. Many people are using Tablets for purchasing & price comparison while performing inventory control. It is a much better interface for a salesperson to show off a web-based product on the showroom floor or at conventions. And many Tablet users are performing searches relevant to these tasks, and need a completely different set of search results.

The Tablet user doesn't want to research every option for a new $1,000 Home Theater (Desktop/Laptop), they may not be looking for the closest location (Smartphone), but they do want to compare prices, place bulk orders, control inventory or even show off cool videos to potential customers. Tablet SEO brings with it a new search funnel and set of keywords, while still utilizing the same old algorithm that Google offers to Desktop & Laptop users.

The Bottom Line
Figure out the search intent of your Tablet users, how they find your website, and why they use your website; then use your SEO knowledge to harvest this search opportunity. If nothing else, start thinking differently about smartphone, tablet, laptop & desktop users. They may use the same search keywords but they all have different search intent. The trick is to serve all four intents at the same time with similar Google search results.

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