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While I’ve written extensively about why you should have an optimized site for mobile, I’ve rarely directly mentioned the two most obvious points for why you should. Websites that aren’t mobile friendly annoy visitors and it’s bad business.

Mobile users have more immediate needs, and they look for content that is designed to fit their needs.

A recent Google survey of mobile users says that 72% emphasized the importance of websites that are mobile-friendly. However, as important as mobile optimized sites are to users, 96% said they have visited a site that doesn’t work properly on their device.

The survey had 1,088 US participants who own smarphones and use them for internet browsing, and the survey was performed by independant groups.

Roughly three-quarters of respondents said they are more likely to visit a mobile optimized site than one that isn’t mobile-friendly, and they are five times more likely to give up on their task if the site isn’t optimized for mobile needs.

Following with those numbers, most customers said they are more likely to buy online when the site they find meets their mobile needs. Unfortunately, 61% are more likely to leave if the site isn’t mobile friendly. Even worse, when visitors find sites that aren’t mobile friendly, they are disappointed in the company itself.

So what are the needs of mobile users? They want sites that load in less than 5 seconds, big finger-friendly buttons and quick access to business contact information. They also want the pages to be designed to fit their screen, and links to the company’s social media profiles.

Basically, they want pages that work easily on a mobile interface, with easily accessible information and efficient designs. Mobile users want to be able to act immediately and most aren’t doing research on their mobile devices. They want ways to make contact and take action.

If your page isn’t meeting these needs, you are probably losing customers.

If you want to read the actual list of what the survey says mobile-users want, read Miranda Miller’s article at Search Engine Watch.

We’ve talked quite a bit about the quickly growing use of mobile devices to search the web. The latest reports show between 10% to 20% of all traffic on the web, and some popular websites, claim that roughly a fourth of their traffic is coming from mobile devices, if you include tablets.

Of course, this all shows that ignoring mobile web use at this point is not a good decision. Those that are innovating in the field of mobile optimization will have a much brighter future than those that continue to resist the mobile shift. The sooner you optimize your site for mobile use, the better chances your company will do well in the future.

There are two factors that differentiate mobile devices from other traditional computing devices. They both are obvious, but both factors have undeniably huge effects on users’ web experiences. The first is portability. Since mobile users are accessing the web on the go, their current location and activities become important to what they are accessing online. The second factor is screen size. Mobile screens do seem to be getting larger, but they will never go anywhere near standard computer screen size. Take advantage of screen size limitations of mobile users, rather than fight it.

With between 15-20% of all searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. coming from mobile users, how does that change search behavior?

Search Behavior Due to Location

Microsoft’s research has found that 30% of all mobile searches are related to their location, and 61% of searches end in a phone call. Like I said, a person’s locations and activities are clearly important to mobile user’s.

Of course, the recent changes to search engines have made great strides to customize search results based on user’s locations, but you should still make an effort to specify your business’s location on search engines using their web master settings.

The major search engines also look for location signals from the title and text present on a website. If you own a local business, make it easy for them to find these signals. Emphasize the location on the site so search engines prioritize your website in search results around your area.

Can you still take advantage of mobile users’ locations even if your business has more than one location? Of course!

If your business has multiple locations, you should be creating internal pages for your different locations, with a present hierarchy starting from the homepage so that search engines will notice the location specific pages too. You will still have to deal with standard issues such as speed, relevance, and backlinks, but taking advantage of location will help get individual pages ranked based on where your users may be.

Search Behavior Due to Screen Size

Screen size contstraints are a more physical limitation, but it strongly effects how people search and visit pages. The clearest difference between mobile and desktop search is the number of paid results and advertisments. On most search engines, there are far less paid ads on mobile because of the screen size. That means organic results on mobile are more important than on desktop.

Screen size also limits the number of results you recieve at any given moment. On a typical smartphone you can only see a few results at a time. Desktops give users a broad range of results immediately, but on mobile the top three results are key. Mobile users are not prone to research, and they rarely go past the first page of results, so it is important to get your page as high in the rankings as possible.

Search behavior on mobiles are certainly unique from their desktop counterparts, and mobile requires a similarly unique SEO strategy. Of course, desktop is still important, so the best way to approach the issue is by creating a seperate mobile site that is optimized for mobile user experience. The longer you wait to optimize, the more trouble you will have later.

For more, read Paras Chopra’s article at Search Engine Land.

 

Want to know what features and capabilities consumers are wanting from mobile websites? Google has released the results of a recent survey and, while the findings aren’t anything earth shattering, they also included data that could be beneficial to you.

The results have reaffirmed that smartphone users want sites to be optimized for their smaller screen, and they will leave those that aren’t, but Google also took the time to collect data on what users want in their experiences with mobile sites. Google used two independent research firms to survey over 1,000 adults in the US, who were also involved in focus groups and required to keep journals of their mobile activites throughout the third quarter of this year.

So what are users wanting from mobile sites? According to Google, users expect websites to load in less than five seconds. They also want mobile websites to allow them to act immediately. Seventy-six percent of smartphone owners want to use their phones to get locations for businesses and sixty-one percent like businesses to allow customers to contact them at the time.

Most want information available within a few clicks, with buttons large enough for their fingers. Other widely desired features were conveniently placed search bars, “click to call” buttons, unidirectional scrolling (up-down or left-right), and interestingly many desire the ability to go to the full non-mobile site. Google even gathered data on what users are looking for in sites for specific industries. Greg Sterling at Marketing Land has a break-down for these individual industries, if you’re interested.

Most of these findings are inline with what you would expect, but they also show how the expectations of mobile users are quickly getting higher. If you don’t raise your own standards to meet those of your customers, your business will not fare well in the future.

 

It is becoming undeniable that responsive websites are becoming the norm. As more people use tablets and smartphones to browse the internet, responsive web designs that easily adapt to different devices are becoming the smartest way to design a site.

The problem, as with any new design method, is getting started when you don’t know much about making your site responsive. Luckily for anyone with this issue, we have a comprehensive infographic from Helen Bailey at Demortalz that covers all of the basics of responsive design, from basic vocabulary and suggested reading to free PDF books and a suggested toolkit. There is even a dynamic version available that is designed like a game.

No matter which version you prefer, this infographic will help you get started making responsive designs which are quickly becoming standard.

 

It should be pretty obvious by now that the shift to accessing the internet via mobile devices is not going to wane any time soon. Some have already recognized this and capitalized by integrating mobile into their overall marketing and media plans, but there are still many untapped ways to take advantage of the mobile market.

While one ROI firm recently suggested that marketers allocate 7 percent of the budget to mobile, leaving room for growth to 10 percent by 2016,  Bill Dinan at Search Engine Watch argues that there’s a high amount of opportunities for mobile minimization and you should be giving a higher percentage of your ad budgets.

Mobile consumers tend to be more ready to buy than others, and a study conducted by Nielson found that local mobile searchers are converting at much higher rates than desktop users.

Over 60 percent of those participating in the survey said they ultimately make the purchase. 20 percent even stated that when using mobile they are often looking to purchase immediately or within the hour, which shows a window of opportunity for marketers.

We have 3 tips to help you fully take advantage of the opportunities created by mobile.

  1. Know the Mobile Customer – Any good advertiser should be paying attention to customer motivations and the ways their intents are often connected with their methods. Mobile customers have different needs and desires, and a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t going to cut it.
  2. Contact Info is Essential – Calls and location information are always an important step in the path for mobile users to purchase. Most users will want to connect with a business before making a purchase, so make sure your phone numbers and location info are clearly displayed. If the customer can’t contact you when they want to make the purchase, they will likely move on to the next business.
  3. Understand the Differences Between Tablets and Smartphones – Consumers use smartphones and tablets for different things, and it is important for mobile marketers to keep this in mind. Most smartphone users are looking for and contacting local businesses, while smartphone users tend to do more research activities. Brand websites also tend to be more popular on tablets, while local directory apps are more popular on smartphones.

If your company is ready to leap into the mobile marketing world, and you should, remember these tips. They will help get you headed towards an effective marketing plan.

 

 

Just about everyone has a smart phone by now, so why is mobile SEO still a poor facsimile of desktop SEO? Even the most basic stats show that mobile SEO is worth paying attention to, as mobile devices accounted for 13% of all searches in June 2012 with 20% of clicks.

The problem is creating a mobile site isn’t easy, and effectively optimizing any given site for a mobile audience relies on several criteria.

SEO consultant Aleyda Solis at the BrightonSEO conference listed seven of the criteria you should consider when optimizing a site for mobile SEO, and we’re here to help you through it.

  1. How does your audience behave on your site? – Before you invest time and money into a mobile site, it’s first important to know if you even have enough of a mobile audience to make it worth your effort. Using Google Analytics, you can create a segment for organic mobile traffic, which will allow you to look at the volume of visits, devices used, and the landing pages they tend to hit, as well as what are the most popular keywords. If you know what type of content is most popular with mobile users, you can prioritize it when creating a mobile website.
  2. Where does your site appear in mobile search results? – Where your site appears in mobile search results is helpful in knowing what content you need to optimize for mobile use. Investigating these statistics, as well as what keywords and pages are already gaining visibility will help you prioritize.
  3. How does your audience use mobile search? – Knowing how your target audience uses mobile search allows you to make yourself more visible to them and increase your traffic. You can use Google’s Keyword Tool to find the keywords your audience are using, and Our Mobile Planet lets you check how consumers are using their mobile devices.
  4. How does your site render on mobile devices? – Testing your content on mobile devices is essential when designing a site because if your content doesn’t render correctly, visitors will promptly leave. Using Google’s Getmometer, PageSpeed Insights and the ‘Fetch as Google mobile bot’ in Webmaster tools, you can see how mobile users and bots see your website.
  5. What content and products are you offering to your mobile audience? – Mobile users are often looking for different content than your desktop visitors are. Identifying what your mobile customers are after, lets you know if you are catering to their needs. Often, mobile users focus more on localized content. If that is true for your audience, are you offering localized content? If you’re not, are you able to create some?
  6. Do you have the technical capacity to develop a mobile site? – If your website isn’t rendering correctly on mobile devices, you need to consider if you have enough of a budget to make it responsive, dynamically serve content or build a parallel mobile version. Each method has its pros and cons, but ideally you need to use responsive design. That’s not always possible though, depending on technical capacity, budget, and content needs.
  7. Based on these criteria, decide what type of mobile site you need – Depending on your site’s needs and abilities, you will know how you need to respond to creating a mobile site. David Moth at Econsultancy has a flowchart to use to make it easy for you.

There are different ways to handle mobile optimization, and hopefully this list has helped you identify the best route for you, but there is one thing that is true no matter what. Mobile SEO is becoming more important every day, and ignoring it is only hurting yourself.