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Marketing In Transit: Selling To Mobile Searchers
Consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to connect with local businesses, yet many of these sites still aren't mobile-friendly. Columnist Chris Marentis offers his advice.
For local businesses, a strong mobile-specific SEO strategy is a must. Mobile searchers are very frequently local searchers and that brings big opportunities to the doorstep of any local brick-and-mortar operation.
For this reason, now is the time for SEOs to figure out how to get the most out of this opportunity and bring those mobile searches to their clients.
The Mobile Vs. Desktop Difference — Far More Than Just Size
For the most part, people do not use smartphones or tablets as replacements for PCs. They do different things on each.
Because of the small form factor of even the largest smartphone, browsing simply out of curiosity is not really practical. People generally conduct this type of “looky-loo” activity on their laptops and desktops, which are far more conducive to casual perusing.
In contrast, people search online via their phones when they really need or want something — and when they are ready to do something about it. Mobile searchers are not just shoppers; they are buyers.
How Does This Manifest?
To highlight the importance of mobile SEO, consider your own experiences. Following are some ways you might use your phone, but never your laptop.
- You’re in the car trying to find a particular store so that you can call for directions or input the address for turn-by-turn navigation.
- While out and about, you search for a retailer carrying a product that you need and call to check in-store availability before driving there.
- You are out on the town with a large group and want to find a restaurant nearby that can accommodate your entire group without an overly long wait.
When you consider situations like these, you must then consider the experience that corresponds to such searches and how they will naturally be different than any desktop search could ever be.
It is important to note that some of the important “search” elements here extend beyond your meta description and move into the realm of what happens once people actually click on your search listing.
The User Experience Matters
Taking into consideration that the user experience from this point is critical, this is where too many businesses fall short. At its essence, a good mobile strategy is one that ensures a truly useable and useful website experience on a smartphone or tablet. It’s that simple.
Following are some points to keep in mind when executing your plan:
- Make Sure It Fits. Okay, here’s your mobile SEO 101 tip: make sure you have a responsive site or a mobile-specific site so your content fits the screens appropriately. Don’t make users pinch and zoom or scroll from side-to-side or bury them in a sea of type so small that you’d need a microscope to actually be able to read it.
- Speed It Up. If “fit” is mobile SEO 101, then “speed” is mobile SEO 102. Watch your page loading time. It matters on desktops and it matters even more on smartphones. When your site is slow on mobile, Google’s crawlers may index less of it.
- Be Conversion Savvy. Remember that your goal is not just to get clicks, but to get conversions. You can help make that happen by displaying your phone number front and center so mobile viewers can not only find it easily but simply tap to call you. Beef up your landing pages so the most compelling messages or offers are at the top. Mobilize your reviews by providing short quotes that are quickly read on phone screens.
- Beware Of Mobile Apps. The apps that people really use offer true functionality and do something that a website simply cannot. App development isn’t cheap, and spending your money on this can sap your resources. Be honest with yourself about what you want to achieve before you go down this path.
Another important element that must be mentioned here is analytics. When setting up and reviewing your metrics, plan for offline and multi-device conversions.
The customer that calls you to check product availability and then buys in-store should count as a mobile-assisted conversion, but it’s not measured in the same way as the customer that buys online. Don’t sell your own efforts short by not accounting for these actions.
Mobile traffic growth has been the hype for some time, but merchants have yet to see exponential growth in conversions. That is due in large part to the fact that businesses have not put forth a truly functional mobile experience.
Instead of waiting for your customers to go first, you must provide the infrastructure for them to have the right experience; and then, they will follow your lead.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.