4 Strategies to Seize SEO Traffic in a Mobile World
In the era of “mobile first” where the majority of searches now originate from mobile devices, much of the traditional canon of SEO knowledge has been dramatically flipped on its head. Smaller screen real estate, higher concentration of clicks on the top 1-3 search engine results, more geo-located results, and higher conversion rates are just some of the features of this brave, new, mobile world. Whereas most digital marketing agencies have already made the shift to mobile, small and mid-market businesses continue the now-antiquated practices of optimizing for desktop search while missing the vast opportunities that mobile presents. The subject of mSEO (or Mobile SEO) can be debated for hours on end but 5 specific tips jump out as critical starting points in the process of making your site fully optimized for mobile search.
Dedicated Mobile vs. Responsive site?
The first thing you need to decide is if you are going to develop a dedicated mobile site (m.yoursitenamehere.com) or a responsive site. A responsive site is one that is laid out on a fluid design grid and intelligently resizes to any browser or device the user is utilizing. A dedicated mobile site is an entirely new site that redirects mobile users to it. The answer to this question is predicated on the degree of complexity that your website contains. Responsive design, while much more affordable, is best developed for simple, informational websites. Any complex functionality such as ecommerce, trouble tickets, search algorithms, live customer support, and others are best accomplished by a dedicated mobile site. In SEO terms, both are equally valuable.
Page speed takes on an entirely new meaning in the mobile world as users are often passing through areas of constricted bandwidth on 3G or 4G networks. Carriers such as T-Mobile have had notorious difficulties serving up large websites. If your website is large and slow (get a free speed test at https://gtmetrix.com/ and/or http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/) consider developing a second mobile site with much less content, images and functionality then the utility oriented desktop site. That way the mobile site loads fast. Your goal should be for the site to load in under 3 seconds since, when bandwidth limitations are accounted for, that time frame could easily turn into 10,30, or even 60 seconds, enough to lose a potentially valuable customer.
Critical to page speed and mobile image search is the optimization of photographs and other image-based content on your site. Websites such as www.pushliving.com and other photo repositories have been groundbreaking in ensuring that their work is not only visually arresting but also formatted to work well on mobile screens. Size optimization, cropping images, and significant server-side solutions all act to capture Google Image traffic in a manner that is far more effective than just regular desktop search. Frequent browser and device testing through sites such as www.crossbrowsertesting.com will allow you to experience your site from other device and browser combinations to ensure optimization.
Local is Everything
Mobile searches are far more likely than desktop searches to be local in nature, people searching to fulfill an immediate need from a nearby vendor. In order to best serve its users, Google utilizes the location settings on the phone or tablet in order to determine where the search has originated from and serves up local results pages based on geographic proximity. Whereas in the past local SEO meant showing up in the “top 7 pack” of red pushpins for your area, it has now turned into an ever-shifting landscape which in fact benefits the little guy. Even a lesser known business can now more easily be found if the search originates in close proximity to it. But to utilize this advantage you must ensure that you have all of your GEO SEO ducks in a row. That means:
• Having a physical office location or presence in the municipality you wish to target. If you are a virtual business, get a virtual office service, which can be obtained for as little as $45/month from services such as https://cloudvo.com/
• Ensuring that your NAP (name, address, place) data is featured prominently on the website in multiple places.
• Getting a local phone number not an 800 number and featuring it on the site.
• Integrating Google Maps into your contact page and ordering a Google Places post card via https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778?hl=en
• Making sure that the Google Places page issued to you has plenty of local reviews, photographs and other rich data in order to further increase click through rate.
Lastly, be ready!
Numerous businesses I work with get so lost in the (sometimes) overwhelming amount of detail that goes into mSEO that they forget the underlining business principles that caused them to get passionate about their business in the first place: Just remember, you are selling to humans not robots! That means your site must fundamentally be optimized for a human user. If there is ever a debate that involves reducing UX (user experience) in order to realize mSEO benefit, always side with the user. Make sure that your phone line is operational and a real person picks up on the other end of it. If you are not able to do this, you can purchase an affordable virtual assistance for this task. Ensure that your business has regular hours where customers can reach you.
While starting on the path to full mSE optimization may seem daunting it is in fact just a new market opportunity for your business, no different than expanding into a new territory where thousands of new users readily await to become connected with your business. Good luck!