In November 2014, Forrester Research released a report entitled Predictions 2015: Most Brands Will Underinvest in Mobile. The report touched upon budgeting and leadership problems for many companies. This is particularly concerning in light of the recent Google mobile algorithm update of April 2015. A marketing strategy based only on responding to algorithm updates is a poor one. Your strategy should be focused on creating an ideal customer experience on your site. In today’s increasingly mobile world, that includes having a viable strategy in place to handle all devices - desktops, tablets, and smartphones. If your organization’s not already aggressively focused on mobile user experiences, the info below will help you play a role in developing a strong mobile strategy for your brand.
The Importance of mobile growth
According to the Measuring the Information Society Report, “mobile-cellular population coverage has reached 93 percent globally: in other words, almost every person on the globe lives within reach of a mobile-cellular signal and, at least theoretically, has access to mobile communication services.” This means that the vast majority of the global population can potentially access mobile networks. This is particularly significant in developing countries, where populations may have better access to mobile than they do to landlines. The numbers are equally significant in the United States. According to Pew Research:
- 90 percent of American adults have a cell phone
- 64 percent of American adults have a smartphone
- 42 percent of American adults own a tablet computer
- 32 percent of American adults own an e-reader
Mobile also now exceeds desktop internet use, demonstrating how powerful the mobile market has become in just a few short years. Companies that do not have a viable mobile marketing strategy are losing customers each day since people cannot access their sites easily on the go.
Designing a mobile-friendly site
Let’s start with some common sense – mobile devices and search engine bots should have access to pages that are easily read on mobile devices. Consider the example of Metrarail, the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation. The system serves more than 300,000 passengers a day throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. They know that people accessing their website from handheld devices are also struggling to hold onto a briefcase, bags or a child’s hand, so they made an easy to navigate site that focuses on crucial passenger information, such as train schedules and weather advisories. Take a look at the screenshot below:
The desktop version of www.metrarail.com, however, is designed more for customers who are ready to read leisurely and learn about helpful information and promotions.
Look at the below Metra desktop screenshot for contrast.
This example shows perfectly why designing a mobile site is about more than just making a screen fit a mobile device. In a recent article on CickZ I talked through how best to implement a mobile web strategy. There are three main techniques you can use to create your mobile site.
Responsive Web Design
This means that your site will automatically detect the screen size upon which it is displayed and resize to fit. Google specifically states that they prefer responsive design. You are at a disadvantage, however, with older devices that do not support the necessary CSS code. There are also occasional problems with slower page load times.
Dynamic Serving allows you to have separate HTML pages that can be optimized for load time on varying devices. The ability to have mobile-specific content on a separate HTML pages can be a big plus. You can also leverage keywords that can be context- and location-specific. The downside is the bandwidth & logistics needed to manage two sites – full of potential problems.
Separate or Dedicated URLs
With this system, both the HTML pages and the URLs are separate for desktop and mobile versions. This provides maximum flexibility across the various platforms in terms of content, page loading, and navigation. You again have to consider the financial & time costs to run two sites. Those interested can read an additional case study on mobile SEO strategies.
No discussion on mobile would be complete without including mobile apps. Apps can help customers access your site and content faster and easier while increasing engagement. Competition is fierce though. There are roughly 60K apps added on iTunes each month and 50K on Google Play. And an estimated 23 percent of iOS apps are used only once. For your app to be successful, it has to stand out from this crowd.
- It has to be a high-quality app that is engaging and easy to use
- It has to align with your organization and brand message
- The focus should always be on the customer experience
- You should leverage relevant and opportunistic keywords along with engaging descriptions
- All images, including the icons, should be visually pleasing and useful
- Keep an eye on ratings and reviews
Keep in mind that optimizing your apps is not a one-and-done approach. It’s best to continually refine your apps and implement best practices whenever possible. App store optimization, like all optimization activities, is ultimately about improving the user experience, not just search results. Mobile is now a dominant force in the world of digital optimization. Not only do you need to factor in the Google update, but your marketing strategy should account for the growing popularity of smart devices and the consumer base who uses them.
About Dave Lloyd
Dave is a veteran in the search marketing space and this will be his 3rd year speaking at Share15. A valued customer, and partner, Dave also writes for Adobe.com and ClickZ. We look forward to continuing the conversation at Share15 in just a few weeks.
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Conference Details September 21-23 Westin St. Francis San Francisco, CA