Consumers searching for information about local businesses increasingly turn to their smartphones for answers. According to Google’s Mobile Search Moment Study, 77 percent of mobile searches take place at home or work, where a PC or other device is available to the searcher and now over 1 out of every 3 searches is done on a mobile device.
Local search has become an almost-daily ritual for consumers, two-thirds of whom use local search three to four times a week. Four in ten of those consumers use local search every day.
When it comes to mobile devices, local search is provided by multiple search engines, data aggregators, social networks, and review sites, including:
- Voice search with Siri, Google Now, and Windows Cortana.
- Map applications like Google Maps, Apple Maps, and MapQuest.
- Various search engines used by mobile browsers, such as Chrome, Safari, IE, Firefox, Dolphin, and Opera.
- Aggregator and search-powered location-based apps like FourSquare, Yelp, Google Now, YouTube, and eBay.
- Email search powered by such native email apps as Gmail and Yahoo Mail.
Consumers crave accurate, relevant local business information; almost three-quarters of U.S. consumers use location-based services on their smartphones. Further, these on-the-go local consumers are highly motivated and display great intent. Recent research from Google shows that nine in ten consumers take action after performing a local search, and 70 percent of them call local businesses directly from their smartphone search results.
In addition, new research from comScore and Neustar Localeze shows that the top reason for a local search is to help a consumer find a specific business. However, the second most common reason is to find a product or service in a specific geographic area. According to comScore, “Nearly half of all service, restaurant, and travel searchers were looking for a business they have never made a purchase from before.”
They’re not just kicking the tires either. Google and Nielsen also report that 55 percent of mobile search conversions happen within the hour.
The accuracy, comprehensiveness, and perceived trustworthiness of local business information are of great concern for mobile consumers. Seeing a business show up in multiple places online increases its perceived credibility.
Mobile search optimization is not the mere act of search and syndication; rather, it is all important multi-location, multi-aggregator management of your local business data to the device user’s intent. Local business content management calls for a complete solution, enabling multi-location businesses to provide mobile searchers the type of cohesive, accurate experience that instills trust and encourages action.
Marketers who power their local search optimization with automation solutions from Rio SEO and other software providers will find it easier to define and manage Web content disseminated through search engines and on local websites in areas where they do business.
Mobile-optimized websites are no longer a luxury, but a necessity. If you want to stay relevant and attractive to your visitors, you need to provide them with easier access through their various devices.
If you have a website, the good news is that your business is accessible from any device. The problem is that your site may look very bad if it’s not mobile-optimized, which will create poor user experience and lead to low CRO. While over 50% of people surfing the Internet use their mobile devices to do so, only 21% of all website are mobile-friendly.
The trend to mobile is unstoppable, and Google is constantly pushing the creation of mobile websites. It won’t be surprising if this friendly graphic turns into a ranking factor in the near future.
It is obvious that the growing trend is to think of mobile first and desktop second. This is a hard thing to accept, but all programmers can already see the trend and thus are beginning to apply the change to their work.
“Google programmers are doing work on mobile application first because they are better apps and that’s what top programmers what to develop” –Eric Schmidt. Google Chairman
We really need to shift now to start thinking about building mobile first. This is an even bigger shift than the PC revolution” – Kevin Lynch CTO Adobe
The future of the web is mobile design. There is new device every day, and more and more we find ourselves reaching out to our mobile devices to use the internet.
The Importance of a Mobile-Optimized Website
Wherever you go, you undoubtedly see people on all kinds of mobile devices surfing the web. Over half of Americans who have cell phones use their phone to surf the web, so there are clear benefits that highlight the importance of these features. One of the greatest benefits is that mobile-optimized websites provide a better user experience and increase usability, which should be the ultimate end goal aside from increasing a company’s ROI.
It has been deemed a best practice to have a mobile-optimized website, and Google itself recommends the practice of using responsive web design. New websites that are in development should design with mobile in mind, and existing websites should seriously consider optimizing for mobile use. Here’s an inside look at each type of mobile website optimization:
There are two types of mobile design. The first type consists of an original website and a sub domain dedicated for the mobile version: www.example.com and m.example.com. Can you guess which one is the mobile version? In this form of mobile design, “m.” prefaces the original URL and visitors are redirected to the mobile version when they access the website from a tablet or smartphone. The mobile website is a sub domain, which makes it completely different website than the main one. The mobile version of the website is created specifically to be used on mobile devices, and it usually offers a link with the option to use the regular site instead. This is the old way of doing mobile design and is not the best option available today. Some downfalls include the risk of duplicate content, multiple URLs, and updates have to be done both on the regular and mobile version.
The second form of mobile design is a website that has multiple CSS files (or only one with multiple options for screen size). In this situation, the server determines which type of device is being used, and then it can pull up the specific CSS for a computer, a smartphone, or a tablet. This is the best way to do mobile design. It requires a little more work but it is well worth it.
The difference between the two is that in the first one, there are two completely different websites with different CSS, template, and layout, and in the second, it is the same website but just with three different templates to respond to three types of devices. Both styles of mobile design exist specifically for the purpose of simplifying and enhancing website access on mobile devices.
- The most aesthetically pleasing
- More user friendly
- Only one URL
- Easy to maintain
Responsive Template Design
Responsive template design is the most common approach, although it is not necessarily the best. It is popular because it is often the easiest. It allows a website to be accessible on all devices, regardless of screen size, without CCS changes or additions. Responsive design uses a single template, and the CSS can “sense” the size of the screen so that it can adjust the elements of the page to fit in a cascading manor. It takes the modules with the highest priority and places them first, with the rest of the modules following in order of priority. By default, the modules on the top left are the most important while those on the bottom right are the least important. That way, when a user is scrolling down on a responsive design website, they will see the most important features of the website first. In this sense, responsive design is a “one size fits all” solution, but that doesn’t mean that it is the best solution. Here are the pros and cons:
- High user experience and navigation from mobile to desktop.
- Consistent content and easier to update the website.
- Easier with stats – no need to split traffic between two versions of your website.
- Only one URL.
- New to SEO and might need some fine tuning before we see the optimal result on responsive templates.
- Responsive design could make a website load slower as it adjusts to the appropriate screen size.
- Responsive websites are more complex to code.
- Responsive design is one size fits all, which is usually reflected in the final look of your website.
Successful Brands that Optimized
There are many brands that have successfully employed one of the above options.
Sun Maid, Gateway Bank, and Caribou Coffee have all implemented interactive, interesting, and appealing designs for mobile use. Each of them is different in the features offered. For example, the Sun Maid and Caribou Coffee websites look similar with the menu options, but Caribou Coffee’s website has a convenient slider that switches between pictures on the home page, revealing their latest specials and offers.
Overall, a website that has been optimized for mobile use is the best option for increasing brand awareness. Mobile-optimized websites are designed to deliver faster downloading and browsing speeds, plus they are more cost effective than developing an app. In addition, companies that optimize their websites for mobile use have a competitive advantage when compared to their competitors who do not optimize.
You wake up to the alarm on your phone. Then you quickly check the weather forecast for the day from your weather app. While standing in line for the elevator at work, you get caught up on world news through Twitter. When it’s time for lunch, you don’t feel like walking down the street, so you order takeout from your favorite restaurant through their app. As you are about to leave work, you get an alert about a traffic accident. Now you know to take an alternate route. After a long day, you’re not sure what to eat for dinner, so you find a new recipe with a quick search. All in a day’s work for your mobile device.
If this is how you are using your mobile device, you better believe your customers are using it the same way.
Mobile is no longer an option; it is a way of life. According to StatCounter, mobile devices now drive almost 20% of all global internet traffic. Google recently confirmed that sites without optimized mobile experiences won’t rank as high in their search results. And if you want Google to like your business, you better start with some mobile initiatives.
Most consumers are not only using mobile devices for search but they are starting with mobile devices for search. 50% of all local searches are performed on mobile devices. This isn’t just when they don’t have access to a computer; this is when consumers are at home, on the couch, with friends, or travelling. To be straightforward, if you don’t have a mobile strategy, you are losing out.
Here are 4 tips to develop a robust mobile strategy:
1. Know Your Business and Know Your Consumers
It may seem like a no brainer, but the first step in developing a mobile strategy is starting with self-reflection. Determine the key aspects of your business and what consumers need from your brand. For instance, analyze the mobile visitor’s behavior on the current site. What pages are they requesting? Where are most of the mobile visitors dropping? Once you know what they need and what you want to get across, you can begin to cultivate a plan of action.
2. Create a Mobile Website
Consumers expect to easily be able to view a company website through their mobile device. One of the best options recommended by Google for a mobile-optimized website is responsive web design in which the website responds to the device your customer uses. This means one website with a layout that varies depending on whether your customer is on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone. Without a mobile-optimized website, customers can become frustrated and annoyed by the enlarging, scrolling, and unnecessary clicking they may have to do. A mobile-optimized website allows consumers to find the information they need quickly. Create a layout that highlights key points your consumers will want to find – location, phone number, hours, sales, or specials.
You will also want to optimize your mobile pages for organic search. Google recommends focusing on rendering above-the-fold content to users in one second or less while the rest of the page continues to load and render in the background. Web pages that render quickly will rank better than those that have a long load time. Another consideration for the web developer is to avoid common configuration mistakes that affect rankings in a Google search. These mistakes include unplayable videos, faulty redirects, and app download interstitials.
3. Understand and Develop PPC ads
Mobile PPC ads are based on four main factors:
Position – Because screen sizes on smartphones are smaller than desktops, it is extremely important for advertisers to bid more aggressively for the first two positions on the search page results. If you don’t come up in the first 2 positions, your ads will be shown at the bottom of the first screen, or worst, pushed to the second page, increasing the chance of not being seen.
Keywords – Generally, mobile searches include more misspellings and shorter phrases than those performed on desktop computers. If budget allows, keep this in mind and bid on commonly misspelled brand and related terms.
Individuality – Write ads that are tailored specifically for mobile users. Potential customers performing searches on mobile devices want to find information quickly and be able to navigate the site easily as possible. Mobile accessible discounts, promotional codes, or sales alerts that are triggered by location encourage users to utilize a business’ mobile site or app.
Extensions – When possible, ads should take advantage of call extensions. If your business has a phone number, you can easily include a “Call” button in your ad or on your website that allows the searcher the option to call your business right then and there. Remember, 52% of users have called a business after searching.
4. Incorporate Social Media
Social media and a mobile strategy go together like peanut butter and jelly. This is where you can really engage your consumers to use all the mobile strategies you’ve been working on. Offer mobile-friendly coupons, start a loyalty program that requires customers to “check-in” to earn rewards, or go big and create an app designed precisely for the needs of your customers. Encourage your customers to continue to use the app/mobile device to drive engagement and build brand loyalty.
70% of mobile searches lead to action within an hour. Can you imagine what that number will be like in the next year? The next two years? Consumers expect a mobile strategy. However, don’t jump into creating it without a plan. It’s important to make your mobile strategy memorable and creative but most importantly useful. Don’t forget about the “real world” aspects and how mobile will be incorporated. Developing a strategy to serve your customers, creating a mobile-optimized website, utilizing mobile ads, and incorporating social media are four main ways to ensure your business will be ready for 2014 and most importantly, ready to serve your customers.
According to comScore, one in every three minutes spent online is spent on devices other than a PC. With the increase in usage of mobile and tablets, businesses need a mobile strategy to compete and meet customer needs, regardless how big or small the company is.
Mobile devices are extensions of the people who use them. According to research done by Morgan Stanley, 91% of all Americans have their mobile devices within reach of them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Given the growth of the industry, Internet availability, and the number of consumers using mobile devices, there should be no question as to whether or not a business should develop a mobile strategy to reach local consumers.
Let’s talk about the keys to an effective mobile strategy:
A Mobile-Optimized Website
A mobile-optimized website is essential for an effective mobile strategy. According to Google, 67% of mobile users say they are more likely to buy a product or service from a site that is mobile-friendly because a well-designed mobile experience allows users to easily find the information they are looking for without frustration. When designed correctly, mobile sites can make a sale available at the touch of a button.
On the other hand, 52% of users say a poor mobile experience will make them less likely to engage with that brand in the future. So you can see how critical a mobile-optimized website is to conversions and your company’s brand and reputation.
A Local Search Strategy
Approximately 40% of all mobile searches on Google are for local purposes and that number will continue to grow. In today’s world, consumers are relying on their mobile devices for information on everything, including local products and services. This is a big opportunity for local businesses to be found.
An SEO campaign that targets a specific location is the most effective way to ensure potential customers can find you. A well-executed local SEO strategy means your website is optimized for location-specific keywords as well as for local business directories like Google+ Local and Bing Local. These directories are important because Google and Bing have assigned the top of their search results pages to local businesses for local searches. Being listed at the top of the search results page is important; 92% of traffic comes from first page search results.
In addition to organic search, consider using paid search to increase mobile traffic. The key is creating a PPC campaign that targets the specific location you serve. This includes adding the business phone number and address in the PPC ad. This will allow mobile users to quickly find you or easily click to call you. It is important to test and monitor your ad ranking to make sure it is being shown at the top of the first page of results, as traffic drops by 95% when you move to page two.
As consumer behaviors and attitudes change, marketers will need to quickly adapt to stay ahead of the competition. According to Collin Cornwell, Vice President, Natural Search, iCrossing, “In order to compete for today’s sophisticated online consumers, brands must have a deep understanding of how users arrive at their website, and the tools and know-how to optimize their site to stay in front of the consumer at every step of the purchase cycle.”
Multi-channel customer care options including a mobile-optimized website and paid search advertising are becoming a must for businesses. By developing an effective mobile strategy, your business will strengthen customer relationships, build brand loyalty, and increase its bottom line.
Are you fine-tuning your mobile strategy? Share your ideas in the comments below:
The Smartphone has changed society and has become an “Always-on-you” device. Smartphones have passed the 50% mark in the U.S. and will continue to gain adoption and marketers should adapt and seize this opportunity.
Consumer Mobile Adoption Soars
Consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets is the baseline indication that Mobile is a huge part of consumer behavior. The world’s consumer behaviors have shifted as we wake up and look at our phones (sometimes before our spouses); we shop, eat, drive, work out and sleep with our phones. While this seems excessive, it is the truth. Forrester calls it the “always addressable customer” since mobile phones are typically within hands reach all day long.
Source: Millennial Media
Mobile Advertising Spend Still Lags
While consumers are accessible in most daily activities, agencies and companies are still behind the curve in terms of marketing spend. In 2012, it is reported that mobile search spends have nearly doubled year over year which shows signs of progress but the gaps are still wide.
Paid Search Mobile Click Trends
Over the last five quarters, eMarketer shows a strong trend of Paid Search click share for desktops decreasing. Smartphone and Tablet devices are gaining more traffic (impressions and clicks) as consumers gain comfort in searching via mobile devices.
Just being present in Paid Search on mobile and tablet devices is not enough. AdWeek wrote that 72% of Consumers Expect Brands to Have Mobile-Friendly Sites. But 96% have been to sites that weren’t mobile-ready. Companies must invest in mobile experiences and advertising as consumers demand it.
Are you ready for the year of mobile? Are your mobile budgets increasing compared to last year?
SEMPO Board Member