The Mobile Opportunity
- By 2012, 20% of all search engine queries will be via a mobile device (source)
- 200 million Facebook users access the social network via their mobile (source)
- M-commerce spend is predicted to hit $119 billion by 2015 (source)
Quite simply, if you run a consumer facing business and you’re not at least exploring mobile then you are missing a beat.
1. Ensure a Mobile Optimized Website
- Prepare a mobile optimized version of your website – either create an XHTML simple version of your website or ensure that your CMS (Content Management System) platform can be optimized for mobile. Hosting on a subdomain e.g. m.yourdomain.com is preferable because it will be truly optimized for mobile users but the second option is easier, quicker and more than likely cheaper.
Serve up your mobile site to mobile users
– sounds pretty simple and it is if your website is hosted on a CMS that supports mobile optimization. However, if your CMS does not easily allow mobile optimization, you’ll need to get down and dirty with a bit of PHP to ensure you have correct user agent detection and page redirections in place (whilst we are on this subject, make sure you map all redirections to the corresponding page on the mobile/desktop site for maximum SEO effect and user experience, don’t just dump people on a mobile optimized homepage!).
This is a good tutorial on device detection but it isn’t for the faint-hearted so if coding isn’t your idea of fun (it’s not mine) then hire someone. Essentially what you are trying to do is serve up the right version of the website according to the type of device the user has – extra credit if you customise content according to type of user e.g. encourage iPhone users to download the iPhone app and Android users to download the Android app (see below).
Mobile apps probably provide the best experience for mobile users especially on the iPhone where developers utilise the features of the phone. This is why many of the eCommerce elite, for example Amazon, prompt users to download their iPhone or Android app when the user is recognised as viewing the site from one of these devices.
2. Optimize for Mobile Search Marketing
That being said, smartphone usage and ownership is massively increasing and pages render in pretty much the same format on a smartphone as they do on a desktop computer.
So whilst ‘mobile SEO’ doesn’t really exist at the moment because the search results are almost identical, a mobile optimized website will certainly perform better from a user experience and conversion point of view.
Since Google is monitoring user behavior and working this into the way it ranks websites, it makes perfect sense to create a better experience for your mobile users to help reduce things like bounce rates and to increase pages-per-visit.
Quite simply, a click-through from the mSERPS (mobile search engine results pages) which results in a mobile optimized web page is more likely to generate a conversion and could easily lead on to social engagement and will certainly lead to positive word of mouth rather than a regular web page which will more than likely result in user frustration and a lost sale.
I’m certain that we will see more and more differences between SERPS and mSERPS in the future as Google looks at how to better serve mobile users who will become an increasingly important part of their user base.
Mobile SEO is really part of your overall SEO campaign but if I were to suggest an area to focus on so that your SEO strategy is future-proof and mobile ready then I would look at developing your local SEO. This is because a lot of mobile search queries have local variables added to them e.g. “coffee shop Manchester” – in fact Google says 95% of mobile searches are for local products and services.
3. Expand Properly into Mobile Commere
Mobile commerce or mCommerce is huge; and we know it is only going to get even bigger. But making purchases on the move can be a tricky business and your job as the marketer is to remove those barriers in order to ease the customer frustration and more importantly improve conversion.
- Never make registration compulsory – if someone wants to make a purchase let them hand over the credit card details, don’t throw up a barrier. This is standard best practice in eCommerce anyway but it is particularly important for mCommerce because filling out details on a phone can be difficult.
- Don’t limit choice of products – don’t cut down the range of products they can buy just because they are on the move.
- Make it super simple for existing customers to make a purchase – UK retail giants Tesco and big name online retailers like Amazon, sell so much via their mobile channels because existing customers can make purchases in a matter of clicks. Try and make your website just as easy to buy from.
- Mobile users love to search – browsing is pretty rubbish on mobile devices, so include an easily accessible search bar on your mobile site (with auto suggest) to make the process leading up to a purchase completely hassle free.
- Take advantage of the phone’s capabilities – iPhone users expect to be able to pinch and flick the screen to zoom in and peruse images of the product they are interested in.
- Images – make them load fast but ensure users can still easily view the whole product.
- Never, ever, ever send users to a non-mobile-optimized checkout page – talk about increasing the likelihood of abandonment.
My favorite tip is to provide alternatives to a checkout via a mobile – some customers still have fears about data security or may just want reassurance so encourage a phone call, have store locator functionality, add a reserve and collect in-store option. This ensures you don’t lose a customer who doesn’t feel like making a purchase via their mobile.