Search on Mobile Devices is Growing - Mobile SEO will help you be foundIt’s no secret that the use of mobile devices is growing at a staggering rate. Mobile SEO is on the mind of many businesses and website owners.In fact, Google recently said that mobile searches may exceed desktop searches by the end of 2014.

That’s the kind of news that may have you running to your web developer in a panic if your website doesn’t provide a good mobile experience. Let’s take a step back and talk about some of the nuances around this prediction and how to think about your mobile seo strategy for 2014 and beyond.

Part of what is driving this statistic is the fact that many people in underdeveloped parts of the world such as parts of Southeast Asia, the Mid-East, Africa, South America, underdeveloped parts of North America only have access to mobile devices. There’s also an increase in the use of mobile among young people long before they enter the work world and become paying consumers.

Is Mobile Important for my Business?

Before you decide how important mobile is to your business you’ll want to take a step back and do a little research using Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to answer the following questions:

  • What % of traffic to the website on a mobile device, and how much of that is from organic search?
  • What pages are being served for mobile searches?
  • What are the engagement statistics for mobile visitors?
  • How do the engagement metrics for mobile compare to the desktop visits?

You may have a low volume of mobile traffic because your demographic doesn’t use mobile devices to search or it could be that your products and services aren’t something people conduct mobile searches for.

Don’t jump to conclusions about the traffic and write off the need to optimize your mobile web presence, take a look at the mobile experience. If it’s bad, you may have simply trained your customers not to visit you on a smart phone or tablet. If your download speeds are slow or Google sees a lot of pogo sticking (clicking on a search result and coming right back to the search page) your site may be downgraded and not showing up in mobile search results.

Mobile SEO is for non-Local Businesses Too

It’s true that a high percentage of mobile searches are local. People search on the go and they’re often looking for things like the closest Taco Bell or movie times. This doesn’t mean that businesses who aren’t focused on driving foot traffic should ignore mobile SEO. Tablets make it easy for people to do initial research and it’s not limited to researching local businesses.

I don’t know about you, but more and more I find myself grabbing my IPad instead of my laptop and I look for everything from articles about SEO to what’s the best kind of paper to use in a mixed media drawing. Often-times I find blog posts about things that interest me and before I know it I’m browsing products on their website.

Conversion rates aren’t nearly as high on mobile devices for a few reasons, but if you provide a great mobile experience there’s a good chance a person will visit your website from their desktop and convert into a customer.

7 Mobile SEO Tips for 2014 and Beyond

  1. Develop content that is geared toward the top of the funnel – answer questions that consumers have at the beginning of the purchase cycle. Give reason to remember you and visit you from their desktop device where conversion rates are likely to be much higher.
  2. Responsive DesignGoogle likes sites with a responsive design. This means that the website scales and displays nicely on all types of devices and monitors, it’s not limited to desktop vs. mobile. There may be some cases where a scaled down version of the website may be better than a responsive design.
  3. Limit choices – when it comes to mobile, less is more. Show people only what they need to know and give them the ability to look at the main website if needed.
  4. Make it easy to navigate – responsive design may not be the best answer for certain types of sites, for example online retailers may be better off implementing a mobile version of their website that has larger buttons, smaller images, and just the facts about products.
  5. Target the geography for your business – if you have a local brick and mortar presence be sure to include geographic terms and modifiers such as state, zip code, and town. You can even use things like local land marks to increase your chances of showing up in search results.
  6. Speed matters – download speed is a ranking factor. More importantly, if your pages don’t download quickly (especially on mobile) no one is going sit around and wait for them. They will quickly move on to the next link in the search results.
  7. Don’t force feed apps and limit pop ups – pop ups to capture email addresses are especially annoying on a mobile device. The screens are smaller and it can be almost impossible to figure out how to close the window and navigate to the website. Not everyone wants to download your latest app no matter how great it is. Give people the opportunity to sign up for newsletters or download your app, but don’t force it.

There’s a lot to mobile SEO, but hopefully this list of tips has given you some good ideas about how to get started and how to apply it to your website even if you’re not trying to drive local traffic.

You can read a few more mobile SEO tips and statistics here.

Until next time.