It’s no secret that the mobile web is getting a lot of focus and attention from tech giants like Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Apple. Google is reinventing how search is done (think Google Glass and Android Wearable), Yahoo! is on a mad rush for mobile acquisitions, and Apple is ever pushing the limits on our mobile devices.
“Mobile is growing “faster than expected.” Eric Schmidt, Google Chairman.
Different sources have pointed to the year 2014 as the year when we may just see the majority of searches taking place on mobile devices. Desktop search is quickly fading away and mobile search is replacing it in a big way. Your next list of customers will very likely find you on their mobile devices, if they can find you in the first place.
What should you be doing now on the mobile front to ensure you are visible on mobile search in 2014 and beyond?
1. Have a Responsive Website
It used to be that if you wanted to be discovered on mobile devices, you needed two websites, one optimized for desktops and another for mobile.
Not anymore. Times have changed and so has mobile technology.
Responsive web design layouts now offer a consistent experience across a range of screen sizes. Your website no longer needs to degrade when viewed on a smartphone. Some designs even allow you to add mobile-centric features to your website to make it easy for your customers to reach out to you and navigate your website easily via pinch, touch, zoom and other functionalities.
A responsive web design is one way to optimize your mobile presence and offer a superior mobile experience.
2. Implement a Mobile SEO Strategy
Google cares about the mobile user experience and will only rank you well on mobile search engine results pages (SERPs) if the experience is fast, reliable, and includes relevant results for mobile users. Anything less than this will result in lower search rankings. There is already a high correlation between a mobile-friendly website and top ranking Google smartphone searches.
A mobile SEO audit takes into account the mobile keyword searches that customers are likely to type in on their mobile devices. With many of these devices offering more ways than one to do a search, it is equally important to determine how a mobile search is different from a desktop search on the same kind of information.
– Image results on mobile search often appear higher than on desktops.
– Local results appear higher on mobile searches.
– Autocomplete results appear before your search results.
– “Download” and “App” queries are more likely to show related apps.
From the above, your desktop SEO efforts cannot be used on mobile. A mobile SEO strategy is thus necessary if you are to reap the full benefits of mobile search.
3. Include Location-focused Content
Mobile devices offer a different experience than desktops. They come with GPS, a gyroscope and an accelerometer. All these features can easily be leveraged when doing a mobile search to offer a more positive user experience.
A mobile device is thus more convenient and practical when doing a location search for nearby businesses and places. Google is able to use your mobile device’s GPS location to enable location-aware features and display them on search results. Google has integrated Google Maps into search allowing you to embed and add your business location and other information directly onto Google Maps and have these displayed on mobile search results.
On mobile devices, location information becomes alive and users can determine your business premise, hours you are open for business, and how far you are right from the search results. Google continues to enhance this feature-set to make mobile search more useful. Of course, to take advantage of these features, you need to have location-focused information about your business from where Google can pull up and display it to mobile users.
4. Have a Click-to-Call Feature
Implementing a click-to-call feature on search results has been shown to generate a wide variety of responses.
According to a research conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Google, people accomplish a wide variety of tasks via phone calls. The study listed the percentage of people who call a business directly from a search for each task:
– 52% call to check for business hours.
– 51% call to schedule an appointment or make a reservation.
– 47% call to inquire about inventory, availability, or booking information.
– 43% call to inquire about or compare pricing.
– 39% call to inquire about or check for promotions, incentives or deals.
– 39% call to get directions or local information.
It was also discovered that the click-to-call functionality is most important during the purchase and research phases with 61% finding it extremely important to be able to call the business at the time of purchase. 52% were also very likely to call when actively looking to make a purchase and 40% considered the click-to-call very important after a purchase.
It is clear that a click-to-call functionality can greatly influence the purchasing decision, the time of purchase, and post-purchase behavior. As you can imagine, a lack of this functionality will result in the customer migrating to a competitor with this functionality in place.
By optimizing the mobile experience that your customers get, you can expect increased engagement and a faster ROI on your investment.
David Gitonga is a full-time Web content creator and strategist working with various companies in developing and executing online marketing campaigns on social networks and search engines. He mostly works with small and medium-sized businesses looking to leverage the Internet to drive sales, innovation, and engagement online. Connect with David on Twitter and Google+ or through his website.