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Perhaps the most underappreciated form of writing is the simple list. We all make them. We attach them to our refrigerators to remind us to buy milk and we use them as references to track our day. What many people may not realize is that lists can be used for much more.
In her book, Approaches to Discourse Georgetown University professor, Deborah Schiffrin notes that when speakers tell a story, they often use list structures along with or, even in place of, standard narrative structures. For example:
We went to the store to buy some fruit.
There were so many kinds of fruit that we couldn’t decide between them, so we didn’t buy any at all.
If lists can be used to tell a story, it should be no surprise that lists can also be natural choices for structuring all kinds of web content, including marketing copy.
In fact, the list can be a valuable tool for composing web content. Lists add visual and semantic structure that can make any writing easier to follow and research in reading comprehension has found that students do better when presented with well-structured content in their classroom materials. These findings also carry over to the kind of writing found on commercial web sites. Studies in web usability show that structuring content with lists enhances the readability of standard promotional writing, too. When combined with concise, objective styles, content written using unordered lists improves by as much as 124%.
All this may explain why search engines place a higher value on keywords found in ordered and unordered lists. A web page containing a list of items all related to the main keyword targeted for the page is more likely to actually be relevant to that keyword. It’s just the nature of a well-structured list and something that is fairly easy for search engines to detect.
We often see lists used to describe a range of products or services. What else could we use a list for? What else can you do with a list?
Many web site owners would really love to have a mobile version of their web site available. Not only is it just cool and convenient to browse for the latest information while on the go, it is also becoming very popular. Soon most web sites will have a mobile version. If you can’t offer this service you may lose visitors in the future.Now is a good time to start learning about the technologies involved and the issues you may run into while deploying a mobile web site.
Most mobile enabled sites are using syndicated versions of their standard site. This could create some duplicate content issues which should be avoided. I’m in the process of learning new ways to fix this issue right now. One way is to make sure that your site is being crawled by the engines correctly. The standard SERPs should only index your standard content and the Mobile SERPs should only index your mobile content.
You have probably noticed that the big players in search are all starting to offer mobile versions of their search engines which are designed to index mobile content, this means that there will probably be a mobile SERP for each engine.
With a bit of research on Google’s site, I found a list of their user-agents which can be used in your sites robots.txt file. If I had my mobile content serving out of www.mysite.com/mobile and wanted the site to get indexed correctly I would add something like this to my robots.txt
This would tell the standard Google SERP to not index the content in “/mobile” or any of it’s sub-directories. Then the next two rules would tell the mobile Google SERP to index everything in the “/mobile” directory and ignore everything else.
This is just one way to avoid the issue, There is also the .mobi domain which is to be used only for mobile content. I will discuss this more on another day. For further reading on mobile site development and the DotMobi domain, I would recommend this awesome guide which is in PDF format.
A basic rule of website design is that the site should provide a positive user experience to its visitors. While it’s true that a site that’s invisible to search engine robots might not get many visitors, it’s also true that a site that fails to consider humans is unlikely to keep those visitors – much less sell them anything. Search engine optimization and user experience are both crucial for a successful site and, much as I hate to say it, user experience, like content, is king. Unfortunately, traditional web design often misses the mark on both fronts.