Performics, the performance marketing agency, recently released astounding results from its 2011 Mobile Search Insights Study. The study, which focused on people who use the mobile Web at least weekly, found more than half (57 percent) use the mobile Web more than once/day, with more than three quarters (77 percent) using mobile search more than five times in the last month.
More than 60% of consumers searched for brands from mobile devices before purchasing, and another 49% of mobile searchers made a mobile purchase in the past six months. Year-over-year mobile paid-search impressions have grown 238% in 2010, compared to just 13% from computers. Users are turning more and more to mobile search to quickly compare products, check reviews and to check contact details and opening hours.
Overwhelmingly, satisfaction with and adoption of mobile search rang true throughout the study:
- 75 percent said mobile search makes their lives easier
- 63 percent said access to mobile search has changed the way they gather information
- 32 percent said they use mobile search more than search engines on their computers
Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt said that 78% of smartphone owners now use their phones while they shop. “This is the future and everyone will adapt,” Schmidt said. Mobile growth is occurring at a quicker rate than anyone expected. “We look at the charts internally and it’s happening faster than all of our predictions,” Schmidt noted.
As mobile increasingly becomes the primary local search gateway, it is crucial for companies to incorporate optimum SEO practices into their mobile strategy to ensure their mobile sites are easily detected by search engines and are found and can be used by mobile consumers.
Remember don’t just shrink your existing website, create a great experience for mobile users focused around just the one or two things they really need while mobile.
Mobile SEO optimization
In general SEO for mobile sites/devices is no different compared to desktop browser-based websites. To rank well in the search results websites need to:
- Have the main keyword(s) at beginning of title
- Use the keyword/phrase in H1 / H2 tags,
- Keep navigation clean and simple
- Focus on good – well written content
- Have a good link structure (internal links and incoming links)
Remember that mobile search is much more focused on local/regional results, so be sure to include these terms in your keyword combinations where appropriate.
Mobile Website Performance
Google has recently been emphasizing website performance as a major factor in ranking. According to a recent Tealeaf market-study, for mobile performance is doubly important as:
- 85% of mobile users expect the mobile experience to be better than or equal to online using a laptop or desktop computer.
- 63% of all online adults said they would be less likely to buy from the same company via other purchase channels if they experienced a problem conducting a mobile transaction.
Currently the average mobile e-commerce website page takes almost 10 seconds to load the homepage and the trend is for even slower websites! Surprise and please your customers – produce a FAST website.
Make sure you DON’T use Flash, Ajax or frames and keep navigation clean and simple.
One of the best ways to eliminate frustration and improve the potential for conversion from your mobile site is to prevent left-to-right scrolling. Make sure you never use the “PRE” tag (which stops browser reformatting the text) in HTML code and use relative positioning and percents in the code, rather than absolute positioning and fixed font sizing.
There are also plugins for all major CMS systems to let you have automatically have different pages / themes for mobile devices, or you can manually customize HTML pages using the “HandheldFriendly” meta-tag. If you are using WordPress, check out the free WPtouch mobile plugin which will in most cases automatically optimize your content for mobile devices.
Mobile Website Marketing
Add benefit for mobile users – coupons and daily specials are great reasons for mobile users to visit or return to your site and for users to create links to your mobile website.
Don’t forget to add QR codes to your printed marketing materials (business card, flyers, posters) so that mobile users can quickly access your website.
Take advantage of Social Networking tools such as Foursquare and Gowalla. Offer benefits for check-ins in your shop/restaurant or organize an event (Swarm for example) to attract lots of people. This is a great way to attract new customers and build recognition.
Owning your own mobile domain “.mobi” is a great tip and one that is overlooked by a huge number of companies. This has more value than ‘yourdomain.com/mobile’ or ‘m.yourdomain.com’ and should make it easier for the search engines to understand that it is not duplicate content, or know when to rank the different versions of the page.
When you are finished, build an XML sitemap (see here for new mobile sitemap format) for your mobile site and submit it to Google Webmaster Tools under sitemap section.
Another level of complexity for mobile design is the new entry of tablet devices, which are also touch screen devices, and moderately mobile, but much bigger than phones. In most cases, I recommend simply serving your traditional website to devices like these. One caveat though – check the load times of your traditional website, as tablet users will sometimes be accessing your website over a slower wireless network at 3G speeds.
When you are finished you can test if your Web site is really mobile-friendly using the W3C mobile website validator and with as many real devices as you and your friends can get your hands on!