How Google Might Decide to Index Your Site for Mobile Search

People who use phones and PDAs to access web sites are often shown web pages in a WML (Wireless Markup Language) format instead of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), or in other formats specifically for handheld devices. A service like Google Mobile is one way to see pages in that WML format, and a few other formats.

If you’re a web designer, or an consultant who is asked to help make a site more likely to appear on a service like that, it doesn’t hurt to know what to look for and to do, to make the pages of that site more likely to show up through that service.

An Official Google Blog post from Steven Schirripa, The World in Your Pocket, appeared this past June and mentioned that people visiting Google on their mobile devices will be asked if they would like to search the “Mobile Web.”

Steven Schirripa is one of the co-inventors listed on patent application published this week from Google, which talks about how they might determine if a web page is one that they would index for their Mobile Search.

Electronic content classification
Invented by Steven R. Schirripa, Masanori Harada
US Patent Application 20060288015
Published December 21, 2006
Filed: June 15, 2005

Abstract

A method for classifying electronic content is discussed. The method includes obtaining an electronic document from a computing system, identifying one or more document features of the electronic document, analyzing the identified document features to determine a format of electronic content contained in the electronic document (the determined format being implied by one or more indicators provided by the identified document features), and specifying whether the electronic content contained in the electronic document may be displayed on an identified type of computing device, based on the determined format.

This patent isn’t describing a process that determines how your site might appear on a PDA or phone, but rather whether or not a site should be included in their mobile search, depending upon how mobile friendly the page may be. Some simple things that would be looked at may include:

1. File size of the page
2. Extension type of the page file.
3. The Document Type Declaration listed at the top of the page.

In addition, a more detailed examination of pages would take place, looking at things such as:

1. The presence and number of images,
2. The use of tables, and;
3. The language the page is written in.

Of course, that’s not a full list, and the document names some of the other things that they may look at, and try to find. The patent application is worth a look if you are planning on being proactive when it comes to helping sites be found on the mobile web.

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5 thoughts on “How Google Might Decide to Index Your Site for Mobile Search”

  1. Any thoughts on how the .mobi TLD might play into this (esp. since .mobi was backed by Google and Microsoft, among others)? .mobi was really hyped when the domains were released for sale, but you don’t seem to hear much about it anymore.

  2. Hi Rett

    The patent application is silent on the mobi top level domain.

    I think that it’s focus is more on pages that aren’t necessarily designed specifically for mobile devices only, as one on a mobi tld might be.

  3. Really interesting post. I’m just about to start working in a mobile project and everything is quite confusing.

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