According to the 2013 Internet Trends report released in May of 2013, mobile now accounts for 15% of all global Internet traffic and, with nearly 1.5 billion global smartphone subscribers and over 5 billion mobile phone users, learning about the way that people search, consume and share media across mobile devices is at the forefront of the search marketer’s agenda.
Mobile, Search & Local Hit The Marketer’s Radar
Mobile phones have evolved into portable computers, with you wherever you go. Smartphone users are texting, tweeting, emailing and also shopping. According to comScore, there are more than 133 million registered smartphones in the United States.
The growth of local search and social media have fueled a need to optimize for mobile, and the increased production and usage of tablet devices has offered marketers more and more ways to utilize mobile search marketing.
We have reached a “tipping point.”
Currently, mobile commerce (m-commerce) accounts for over 1 in 10 e-commerce dollars. Smartphone users are also searching with GPS-enabled devices, which pinpoints their exact location. As such, users expect different search engine results that reflect their location, social signals and universal listings.
Mobile and tablet search optimization are increasingly becoming prominent features in enterprise SEO. The growth of mobile and its close relationship with local search further highlights the need for marketers to look at holistic search marketing strategies that incorporate mobile.
Facebook recently reported 819 million monthly active mobile users as of June 30, 2013. With so many Facebook users accessing the site from a mobile device and 92 percent of mobile video viewers sharing clips with others, search marketers have been working hard to integrate mobile into search, social and local strategies.
In a recent survey of more than 4,500 brands in 44 countries in 99 languages, more than 88 percent of marketers viewed mobile and tablet search as a key marketing priority.
Eric Papczun, President of Performics US, further highlights the importance and challenges with mobile search.
Mobile search is now almost 30% of our clients’ search volume and increasing every month. What’s less understood is how poor mobile experiences are hampering mobile conversion rates and mobile search rankings. This is really the largest opportunity in mobility today.
Mobile users expect a mobile experience. Case in point: on June 11, Google announced that mobile site optimization would be a factor in mobile rankings. The announcement from Google has further fueled the need for marketers to look at mobile and optimize their sites accordingly. Search Engine Land has added mobile to their Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors and even created The Definitive Guide to Technical Mobile SEO.
4 Steps To Prepare For Mobile Search: Build, Optimize, Measure & Track
Mobile technology has hit the mainstream with smartphones and tablets now driving one out of every three minutes spent with digital media. The growth of local search and increasing usage of smartphones and tablets has fueled the need for digital marketers to optimize for mobile search.
Below are four key steps you can take to prepare for mobile search.
Step 1: Build Your Sites For Mobile
Without a site that is fully optimized and built for mobile, it is impossible to take advantage of the mobile search opportunity. A mobile site strategy cannot be just a replicated and scaled version of the desktop website.
Mobile device searches use different keyword phrases compared to desktop search and are more short-tail than long-tail in nature. With a small screen, showing up on the screen becomes critical. Your site/device has to be optimized to serve the right type of result in the right format.
It is important to ensure you understand mobile factors such as the impact of design on SEO, the link between usability and SEO, effect of readability on SEO, the differences between content and information and technical architecture.
Responsive Web design is recommended by Google as it allows one website to provide a great user-experience across many devices and screen sizes; and, what is good for Google is good for SEO.
As Google states:
Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.
If responsive design is not the best option to serve your users, Google supports having your content being served using different HTML. The different HTML can be on the same URL or on different URLs, and Googlebot can handle both setups appropriately if you follow our recommendations.
Further information from Google on building mobile optimized websites can be found here.
Implementing flat, clean and simple design principles means that engaged visitors spend more time on your site because they enjoy it. Your site gives them the information they are looking for in a clear and concise manner. However, for many, that is not so easy; Bryson Meunier from Resolution Media talks about common SEO problems with responsive Web design in this excellent article.
Step 2: Produce Content For Mobile
There is an often misunderstood, difference between optimizing your site for mobile and producing content for mobile. (In this case, “content” can refer to website content as well as content for social media properties.)
When it comes to your website, it is important to not only build and optimize for mobile but also to create compelling content for mobile readers.
The same is true of social media. Social media sites such as Vine and Instagram focus on mobile content. If you can identify what social mobile applications your target audience uses, you can work out how, when and if you need to adapt your content strategy.
Social media plays a huge role in your website performance, but it is important to remember that producing website content involves far more than just adding buttons to your site. Make sure that you integrate and link search, social and mobile campaigns from Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn so that people engage more on your desktop, mobile and tablet devices.
Step 3: Understand & Measure Mobile Performance
Understanding where your competitors are positioned in SEO is an important aspect for meeting your organic search goals in today’s competitive landscape.
The same now applies to mobile search. As mobile results enter SERPs, it is important to understand and gain the deepest visibility into the mobile competitive landscape, and Share of Voice for your brand across mobile SEO.
New technologies such as Google “Now,” Google Voice Search and Google Glass have further altered the search landscape, and the rise of new mobile search technology means that mobile keyword research is very valuable.
Understand & Utilize Blended Rank & Mobile Rank: Make sure that you measure your true rank in mobile across devices, and are inclusive of Universal Results (image, video, social, and local results) to gain an accurate picture of your, and your competitors’, performance.
Analyze The Local & Mobile Relationship: Mobile search is sensitive to location. Ensure that you are utilizing your technology to gain in-depth visibility into local SEO performance by keywords and keyword groups across major cities.
Measure Mobile & Local Landing Pages: Set your location and/or mobile pages as Preferred Landing Pages (PLPs) to measure how your branded, local keywords, and location pages rank in local markets.
Build A Solid Mobile Campaign Management Dashboard Remember to measure the impact of off-page and on-page changes, and how they affect SEO performance of pages on mobile devices, while always optimizing mobile campaign performance for e-commerce.
Step 4: Track Your Mobile Rankings
SERPs on mobile vary dramatically from desktop and often feature as few as five listings on page one. As with any other search metric, it is important to measure your true rank in mobile across devices, and be inclusive of Universal Results (image, video, social, and local results) to gain an accurate picture of your performance.
In order to track mobile rankings, it is important to initially look at local rankings.
- As a first step, build local rankings to answer questions such as, “Where do I rank in San Francisco versus Chicago?”
- Answer that same question and pivot by device type, “Where do I rank in San Francisco on a mobile device versus a desktop in Chicago?”
- Look at how often does the phrase “starbucks in belmont” get entered versus “starbucks” without the location on a mobile device.
With tablet computers, there will be different conversion metrics, different keywords to optimize for, and other considerations related to design, experience and transaction and rank.
Mobile search has moved to the top of many a search marketer’s agenda. The growing importance of responsive Web design and Google’s renewed focus on the importance of adhering to new mobile SEO, content, and design strategies is part cause and part consequence of the growth, convergence and use of mobile, local, search and social media.
It is vital that search marketers now understand the differences between what a mobile user expects and what a desktop user expects, creating winning mobile search strategies around this.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.